Thought Catalog

The Things You Notice When You're Not Drinking

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To make my complicated medical history short, within the past year I’ve developed chronic migraines and had to go on a preventive migraine medication, and it’s the type of medicine you can’t mix with alcohol. Of course, drinking makes headaches worse in general so I had been recommended by my doctor to stop drinking anyway.

These are the things I’ve learned after taking off the beer goggles that have been comfortably clouding my vision since I first got wasted off Smirnoff Green Apple Twist freshman year of high school.

Not drinking is the best diet

Since I stopped drinking I’ve lost twenty pounds. Gone are the late night empanadas drowning in tequila and spicy mayonnaise, the stale Papa John’s deliveries in my fridge, the frothy and caloric Yuengling, the dark and sugary Captain and Coke, and the intriguing “Buttery Nipple” shots. Though I’ll admit I’m aided by my migraine medication since it reduces appetite, every morning my body thanks me for refraining from shoveling late night food into my mouth and funneling alcohol into my liver.

Drunk people are ugly

I blatantly stare at the drunk people who stumble into me on the sidewalk and push me out of the way at the bar, eyeing their smeared makeup, ripped tights, sweaty foreheads, splotchy skin, armpit sweat marks, chapped lips, red puffy eyes, spittle, bad posture, wrinkled shirts, lost expressions, and flushed cheeks. Their bad breath wafts into my mouth and nose as they shout nonsensical sentences at my face, along with the stench of their vomit, sweat, and piss. And the whole time they’re thinking they look damn good.

Not drinking equals not wasting all your money

For some reason when I drank I was the friendliest girl at the bar. This meant bonding with random girls in the bathroom about borrowing lip gloss and how much our shoes hurt, and then proceeding to buy a round of shots for everyone and shrugging off their offer to pay and shouting “You’ll get the next one!” and then never seeing them again. Or getting sixty bucks out at the ATM for no reason and realizing I have cash when my friends don’t and giving them money for a cab and shouting, “We’ll figure it out in the morning!” and then not. But when I’m sober the water is free, I’m the one driving, and I remember everything.

No one wants to have sex with the girl drinking water

Men simply avoid talking to women who are drinking water at bars. Apparently drinking water equals unattractive bitch, or possibly anti-fun Debbie Downer, or just she’s-the-designated-driver-therefore-I-can’t-bang-her-tonight-so-why-waste-my-time. In a fun little experiment I played with myself, I ordered a cranberry-seltzer with lime at the bar one night instead of my usual ice water (since cold water helps keep my headaches at bay) and — voila! — I was suddenly infinitely more attractive to every man in the periphery. I had gotten so used to men ignoring me that the deluge of pick-up artists was flustering, especially once I realized I have no sober flirting skills.

Dating is nonexistent for the sober you

See above. Since the 20-something social scene generally revolves around alcohol and the consumption of mind-altering substances, it’s hard for a sober girl to get her footing. Where do most people usually go for first dates? To get a drink. What do new young couples usually order to dissolve some first date jitters? Wine, beer, or a cocktail. When was the last time you kissed someone for the first time sober or had sex with someone for the first time sober? My subconscious reliance on alcohol as a social lubricant has become extremely detrimental to my post-drinking social life. Everything I learned about meeting people and “going out” in high school and college revolved around drinking, and now I have to rewrite the framework for my life while my friends and social circle are still partying within the former binge drinking structure.

I miss drinking

I definitely don’t miss the hangovers, the blackouts, and the mistakes. What I do miss is casually sipping wine with my friends while watching the latest episode of American Horror Story, or ordering a microbrew I’ve never heard of at lunch with a grilled cheese and salt and vinegar chips. I miss having a light buzz while doing my makeup with three other girls squeezed in front of the same mirror on a Friday night. I miss having just enough liquid courage to flirt. Or date. Or have sex. But for now I’ll keep sipping my ice water until my friends tell me they’re ready for me to drive them home. TC mark

image – Janine
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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    i miss the drunk heart-to-heart talks, idk about you~~~

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steven-Timberman/922794 Steven Timberman

    Amen to so much of this. There was a period of time where I was drinking Carlsberg super – 9% beer and the fattiest thing in the history of fatties. Stopped drinking it and voila, my beer belly became a… well it’s still there, just not so distended and bulbous.

    But the best part is your observation that guys won’t hit on the girl with water. Because it costs so much to drink at clubs, I’ll often mix up my intake – one beer, than a glass of water, than whiskey, than water… etc. People give you the STRANGEST LOOKs when drinking water. Its like they just saw a unicorn doing the robot on the dancefloor.

    • Bagel712

       Actually, it’s a common misconception that alcohol itself causes you to gain weight. It doesn’t; however, the fatty foods that drunk people often ingest DO definitely cause weight gain.

      • SisterRay

        Alcohol – straight alcohol-  itself may not cause weight gain, but EVERY beverage it is in has calories, from gin and vodka on the lower end of the spectrum, to beer on the higher end, and all the infinitely sugary juice drinks and sodas mixed with the lower-calorie hard liquor, so…yeah, it’s not so great for your body, in so, so many ways.

      • Nat

        When you mix food and alcohol, your body’s priority is to burn off the alcohol first. So your metabolism is very very slow. Eating, say, a burger after having a beer is a lot worse than just eating the burger

      • G&T

        1 gram of fat has 9 calories. 1 gram of protein has 4 calories. 1 gram of carbohydrates have 4 calories. 1 gram of alcohol? 7 mothaeffin calories. Myep. Mind you that’s pure alcohol. But I’m just saying. Consume more calories than you burn and you’ll gain weight. Simple math.

      • this

        alcohol contains a good amount of calories, you might have missed nutrition class in high school or something.

  • guest

    T R U T H !

  • Hjlv

    funny :)

  • Dananay

    So reliant on alcohol we are! Maybe we’re all addicts… 

  • Guest

    Sounds like you lived a fairly pathetic alcoholic existence before your forced sobriety! Not everyone deals with liquor in this way, that’s for sure.

    • Joanna Buffum

      I had fun in college. 

    • KC

      Not everyone stalks the internet to post judgmental comments on well-written articles, THAT’S for sure. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=707272007 Alex Thayer

    this website has become weezer, post-pinkerton

  • Sara

    The Yuengling reference makes me automatically assume you’re from my hometown, and that automatically makes you my favorite. 

    • http://twitter.com/tannnyaya Tanya Salyers

      We just got Yuengling in Ohio…it was like the second coming.

      • Sara

        I have a friend who moved to Ohio and bought a keg when it was available out there! 

  • GUEST

    lame

  • Age

    “Drunk people are ugly” is probably the one I most agree with. I recently got rear-ended by a drunk chick on my way home from work one night. When she stumbled out of the car and I noticed it was a girl, part of me was worried that my weakness for beautiful women would downplay the accident and I wouldn’t be as pissed off as I should have been. Luckily, I was sober and able to shrug off  her sloppy proclamation that “it’s not that bad.”

  • guest

    I’m graduating college in a couple of months and really have started to become concerned with how reliant I am on drinking before going out, almost as if it’s a habit, and this was really inspiring. I take medication that is “insisted” to not mix with alcohol, so I stopped taking it and have never felt worse. So, in hopes to officially wean off of the wasted lifestyle and to take my medication again, I am seriously contemplating giving up alcohol for lent….I know how hard it will be, but I think it is for the best. Thank you for this post, it was the perfect time for me to read this!

  • Anonymous

    I love how balanced this article is. Definitely pros and cons to drinking. Contemplating giving up alcohol for lent actually…

  • Stu

    Good job, great article. Definitely missed a few pro’s of drinking in there, but overall made some fantastic points. 

  • Chloe

    I love how objective you are, and not sound like you’re on a moral high horse. There’s plenty to agree with in this article. :)

  • Wawa

    oh wow, good for you! not everyone can be the bigger person and hold their ice water at the same time.

  • spittle

    “I blatantly stare at the drunk people who stumble into me on the sidewalk and push me out of the way at the bar, eyeing their smeared makeup, ripped tights, sweaty foreheads, splotchy skin, armpit sweat marks, chapped lips, red puffy eyes, spittle, bad posture, wrinkled shirts, lost expressions, and flushed cheeks. Their bad breath wafts into my mouth and nose as they shout nonsensical sentences at my face, along with the stench of their vomit, sweat, and piss. And the whole time they’re thinking they look damn good.”

    sooooooo sorry you have to witness this, we’ll make sure we adhere to your standards next time *sigh*

  • r.

    “dating is nonexistant…”

    that entire passage is exactly what ive gone through in the last two months. 
    its a scary reminder of how quickly im growing up. 
    it was mostly the result of getting too drunk and making some very poor decisions.
    i still want to party, get drunk, and… “stay 18 forever”.
    but im worried about reaching the point where getting wasted ONLY means making very poor decisions.

  • Rj4

    Im just thankful for rice crispy treats ;)

  • BoogieDown

    If dating is hard for you sober, then you’re probably a very poor date. I’m a fan of drinking during dating, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t cringe at the thought of a coffee instead of a cocktail. If you can’t interest or be interesting without liquid courage, it’s time to look beyond the glass and into the mirror.

    • Joanna Buffum

      It’s not that I can’t get a date and I’m not dating at all, but it does add another layer of complication to  an already socially awkward pastime. When a guy suggests we grab a drink sometime, and I have to say, “Well actually, I’m not drinking right now” or “I’ve stopped drinking” it usually is met with some kind of judgement. I’ve noticed people who do drink feel strange around people who don’t. Sometimes I say “I’m not drinking right now because of this medication I’m on,” but its just a conversation I’d rather not have. Most guys usually suggest getting a drink before getting coffee, regardless. I suppose the real trouble is finding a guy who doesn’t mind going on sober dates and having sober sex. 

  • http://twitter.com/LaurensJam Lauren

    you had me at ‘not drinking is the best diet’

  • Alicedanslalune

    i miss drinking too. i have no sober flirting moves either. ugh.

  • http://joannabuffum.com/2012/02/20/drunk-people-are-ugly/ Drunk people are ugly « JOANNA BUFFUM

    […] from “The Things You Notice When You’re Not Drinking” on Thought Catalog Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  • http://joannabuffum.com/2012/11/27/about-joanna/ about joanna | JOANNA BUFFUM

    […] a degree in English, and her work has appeared in MTV World, Her Campus Magazine, NYC-Concerts, Thought Catalog, and Morristown Patch. She is currently working at New Jersey Monthly Magazine while continuing […]

  • http://murphystarget.wordpress.com MurphysTarget

    Reblogged this on Notes From The Abyss and commented:
    I can relate to this. Alcohol is not off limits to me, but I don’t drink very often or very much anymore. Especially not like I used to in my crazy party days.

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