Do you like broccoli? Let’s say you don’t. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. You just don’t like the taste, nor do you like the way it makes your stomach feel afterwards. But what happens if everyone around you eats broccoli – and many of those people think you’re crazy for not doing so?
You now know my big secret from the title. I don’t drink, save for maybe a drink or two per year out of sheer politeness to a friend, and have never been a big drinker. In other words, if you replace every above instance of the word “broccoli” with “alcohol”, you have my life.
Well, sometimes. This doesn’t usually cause me problems, especially since I’m rarely in a situation where I am truly pressured to drink. Even if I am, I give less of a crap each time it happens. Plus, the people I surround myself with, whether they drink or not, are completely understanding of the fact that I don’t drink. For them, it’s no weirder of a fact about me than the fact that I have freckles, or painted my toenails blue the other day.
Still, I do occasionally have to justify my “No, thanks, I’m good”s and “Just water, please”s with surprising persistence. Working against me is the fact that I’m neither religiously prohibited from drinking nor a former alcoholic. For some reason, this really leaves people scratching their heads.
Charming excerpts I’ve heard both to my face and behind my back run the gamut:
“Wait, you’re NOT Mormon?” (“No, but do go on about everything you know about the LDS church.”)
“I don’t see what’s wrong with having one drink. (“Neither do I – go right ahead!”)
“Are you sure you just want water?” (“Well, I figured you didn’t have bromide or mercury, sooo…”)
“How do you have fun at parties?” (“Talking to people? Oh, and playing with the pets. Pets at parties are the best.”)
“Is this part of your 12-step program?” (“No, I only have two steps: 1] Don’t get a drink and 2] Do whatever I was going to do next.”)
“I just find it weird that she doesn’t drink, like, at all.” (“Really? I write songs about overweight unicorns, eat raw octopus, and call every human being in my vicinity a made-up word and that is ALL you can think of as fuel to call me ‘weird’?”)
“Do you at least smoke or do drugs or something?” (“No, but I do play old video games and pole dance. Are those things as cool as drugs?”)
There truly are some real winners out there.
Before I move on and everyone mistakenly thinks of me as some “gold star teetotaler”, I should clarify that there have been a couple times in recent years where I not only drank, but got fairly drunk. It’s not like I’ve never drank or been drunk, it’s just that I don’t like doing it and I don’t anticipate it happening again any time soon.
“So really, Haley, why don’t you drink?”
If I can sum up why I don’t drink in just a few key points, here they are:
I sincerely do not like the taste of alcohol. Any alcohol (sorry, tequila-lovers and wine enthusiasts). The “acquired” taste was never acquired by me, unfortunately.
I get a headache and feel dehydrated when I drink even one drink. As you can imagine, hangovers completely eliminate an otherwise productive day for me and make me feel incredibly depressed.
I like cake. I like bread. And I looooooooooove pizza. These things are (usually) high in calories. I would like to save my calories for these glorious things, not unpalatable liquids that make me throw up.
Bill Gates I am not; my funds are limited. Alcohol is a sure-fire way to spend money on something that is neither going to nourish you nor provide you with any long-term benefits.
But again, this is why I don’t drink, not why you shouldn’t drink. For some people, they love the taste, feel fine after drinking, would much rather kick back with a glass of wine than dig into a piece of apple pie, and can totally afford to do so. And guess what? That is awesome.
“Do you judge people who do drink?”
I find this to be a genuinely humorous question. Mostly because of how resounding my answer of “No!” is to it.
All of my favorite people in the world drink. My fathers, my mom, my partner, my best friends, my siblings, my boss, Anthony Bourdain, most drag queens, and plenty of others. Whether they drink or not is inconsequential to me. In fact, other people drinking, whether I know them or not, is completely inconsequential to me 99% of the time. Similarly, it should be just as inconsequential to other people that I don’t drink.
What I don’t appreciate (and I think this goes for everyone) is when people use alcohol as an excuse to do something harmful, irresponsible, and/or selfish. Getting too drunk and throwing up in the car happens, but getting drunk and telling someone you hate them and kicking their car shouldn’t happen.
Honestly, I tell my friends to go nuts when they drink. I go out with them or invite them to drink at my home all the time. I trust them; they’re adults after all. Live and let live, dude – we’re all here to have fun.
“OMG!! I can’t believe other people like me exist! I actually don’t drink either. How do I deal?”
I wish I could say that it’s as easy as not giving a crap, but it’s not. I still give a crap sometimes. It’s even harder when you’re in college and your whole dorm floor drinks (speaking from experience), but anyone who is of the drinking age should understand your choice.
The way I see it, there are two primary ways to go about it:
The passive method: Refuse drinks by claiming you “have to drive” or are “allergic to alcohol” even if you’re not. It’s not good to lie, but people will get the hint and stop asking without questioning your motives.
The active method (which I much prefer): Say no without explaining yourself until someone asks. When they do, simply tell them that you don’t drink for whatever reason you don’t drink. I usually go with “Eh, I’m not a big fan of the taste and I usually don’t feel too well if I drink.” You don’t have to justify yourself further. Again, only give more information if they ask.
A Toast To Drinkers
I don’t care if you drink. I’ll still go out with you, I’ll still have fun and I’ll take care of you if you have a little too much fun. I don’t assume you’re less of a person or that you need alcohol to have fun. Do your thing and I’ll do mine.
Just promise me we can stop for burgers after the bars.