A few days ago, I went to a friend’s birthday party at a local bar. Those of you who know me know that I’m not much on drinking. I’ll drink wine, or sake, or even some harder stuff in moderation, but I don’t got drunk, because I don’t have, nor have I ever had, any desire to get drunk. I had also never been to a party at a bar, so I knew from the beginning that this was going to be an informative experience. It was a fun party, and while I did drink a good third of a mixed vodka drink out of a small bucket and I was convinced, at length, to try the mechanical bull, I left the bar with my pride it tact and completely sober.

While I’m sure you’re all fascinated to hear about my party going experiences, that’s not what I want to talk about today. What I want to talk about is the reason I don’t want to get drunk. When I tell people that I don’t like to get drunk, the most common response is, “Ah, you don’t like to lose control,” as if my not wanting to get drunk were some kind of bizarre “control issue.” I’m going to tell you right now: it has nothing to do with control.

The first issue is that I simply do not see the appeal in getting drunk. So you went out, drank enormous amounts of beer and shots, made out with your best friend, puked all over yourself, wet yourself, and you don’t remember any of it, but you have a terrible hangover this morning… and you enjoy this? I realize that not all of those things happen every time people get drunk, but at the very least, drunk people are not their usual selves. Is your usual self or usual life so bad that you have to change it by getting trashed on Saturday night? Or is this what you consider to be “a good time?” (Note: that’s a figurative “you,” not you the reader.) Maybe I’m weird, but I like to do other things with my time. We each get a limited amount of time on this Earth, and I’d like to remember as much of mine as possible. And if I want to alter myself or my personality in any way, I don’t need alcohol to do it.

I’ve also heard the argument, “If you never try it, then how do you know you don’t like it?” People who say this weren’t listening carefully enough to me when I said, “I have no desire to get drunk.” I didn’t say, “I don’t like it,” I said that I simply don’t want to get drunk. I’m not saying that being drunk wouldn’t be fun, or that I wouldn’t like it – I’m saying that I don’t find the idea of getting or being drunk appealing. There’s a difference. For those who think I’m just being pedantic: have you ever tried touching a piece of metal in an electrical socket? No? Then how do you know you won’t enjoy it? (Note that I’m using this example to illustrate a point; don’t go stick you finger in a electrical socket. Having done it accidentally, I can tell you that it’s not pleasant.) Even if you have stuck your finger in an electrical socket (and even if, for some bizarre reason, you actually enjoyed it,) that’s not the point. The point is that there are some things we all avoid doing because they don’t seem appealing to us, and even though those things may be perfectly safe, and other people enjoy them, we don’t want to. Well that’s how I am with getting drunk.

Some of you may see where I’m coming from, and some of you might think I’m just a massive prude, but that’s my choice to make. I don’t mind if anyone else drinks themselves into a stupor, and I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with it, provided that it doesn’t become a problem, but I just don’t really want to try it, and what I do have a problem with is people who try to force me to try it. I don’t judge people for getting drunk, and I’ll even go to parties and be the sober guy, but at this point in my life I choose to drink for nourishment, water, and pleasure, not for getting shit-faced. It’s not a control issue, it’s a matter of choice.


7 thoughts on “Drinking

  1. Anyone who interrogates you on your personal choices is insecure about the choices they make. You are welcome to drink or not drink as you choose, especially since you are mature enough to go to a bar, let everyone else drink however much they want, and are able to have a good time without needing everyone else to make the same choice as you. You rock, and don’t forget it.

    • I’ve been trying to think why anyone would pressure anyone else to drink, and I think you’re right: their own insecurities about drinking must make them feel uncomfortable around someone who is completely secure with their decisions about it, so they feel they need to validate their own behavior by making other people conform. Thanks!

  2. I hope you didn’t feel as if I was forcing you to try it, if you did I am really sorry. Really really sorry, and I’m sorry about Andrew as well. Good for you that you don’t want to drink heavily, and that you don’t feel the need to, I do think that it’s great. I might sometimes be over defensive because I worry that you might be judging me, or think poorly of me. I do see where you are coming from. Often I also leave parties sober.

    Probably many people who drink do it because they are unhappy with their lives, or unhappy with themselves, but another reason is a drink or two helps some people loosen up, it takes away stress and tension that one might feel after a bad day at the office, or that one may feel at a social gathering. So while I am not (in any way!) advocating drinking to solve ones problems (because it doesn’t, though it can temporarily make you forget them.) I’m saying there are many reasons. There are probably other subconscious factors as well. Also when I’m talking about drinking, I am not talking about getting drunk, I am talking about having a few beers, or a few shots or a few glasses of wine (depending on individual tolerance). So I am not saying you should go drink, don’t, but a few drinks do make one feel good, drinking (again moderately, not drinking oneself into a stupor) makes people feel good, happier, less stressed, etc. people have fun while drinking. Yes if you take it too far it sucks, but if you just get tipsy, or a even a little bit drunk, (not lose all inhibitions and short-term memory drunk) there are pleasant effects that alcohol has(obviously or people wouldn’t drink at all) . I don’t drink with the intention of getting shitfaced (what an awful word) or with the goal of forgetting the evening; I don’t drink to get drunk. I drink because I like the taste of alcohol, (Guinness!) I like shots, and I like that it allows me to be a bit less stressed/worried/tense, and loosen up, (obviously it’s called liquid courage for a reason, it raises ones self-confidence). Drinking can make me happy and I have fun, and most of the time I don’t get smashed when I drink, (I have had maybe two hangovers). I’ll go to a party and drink yes, but I won’t get drunk. So this I suppose is my defense of my own drinking, and an effort at trying to explain a few more of the reasons why people drink. NB I am not defending or encouraging getting drunk.

    A side note, binge drinking can be a symptom of depression, and alcoholism is a true disease.

    • No worries! I don’t blame you at all; you didn’t make me feel uncomfortable, and in fact you supported my decision, and I respect and thank you for that! I agree that alcohol can help ease tension a little, and I think that’s a good thing. After all, there is a reason that alcohol is consumed at most social gatherings (other than the fact that back in the day the water was tainted and therefore undrinkable except in the form of tea or alcoholic beverages.)

      Also, I don’t judge you for drinking casually. I think you’re responsible and mature about it, and that’s great. Just as I don’t care to be judged for my desire not to drink much, neither I nor anyone else should judge you for your activities (assuming, of course, that you’re not endangering yourself or anyone else, which you’re not.)

  3. Good on ya. Stick to your guns, Peter.
    Boozing, especially in your late teens/early 20’s is very much a pack mentality thing. There’s this notion that alcohol as social lubricant loosens your inhibitions and allows you to see your friends as they really are, when in reality, what you see is their inability to know/respect their own limits. Passed-out over a toiletbowl is not who anyone really is.
    When faced with someone of their age group who isn’t interested in following the pack, some will feel threatened. And that’s where the acusations of control issues, prudishness, and attempts to spike your sodapop come in. Because if Peter won’t drink, maybe there’s something wrong with my drinking. Same thing happens to vegetarians, oddly.
    Keep it up. Leave the party while it’s still fun for everyone so as not to be the guy stuck taking care of all the sloppy drunks. And worse comes to worse, you can always play the “I can’t, I’m diabetic, I might die of it” card when the pressure is on. Few would be the wiser.

    • Thanks! It’s fascinating how we think we’re so “advanced,” but in many ways we really aren’t. It sort of reminds me of the way dogs that are off lead will attack dogs on a lead for apparently no reason at all. I guess it’s a similar thing in people with drinking. And it’s interesting that the same thing happens with vegetarians! So people harass them about their choice not to eat meat, I assume?

      • That’s exactly it.
        People are threatened when others make choices that are different from the ones they make. Vegetarians/Vegans often have to deal with people getting overly defensive around them about their choices to eat meat, dismissive of one’s choice not to, and I’ve heard all sorts of stories about people trying to sneak meat/butter/dairy into people’s food for a “gotcha.” It happens with food, it happens with religion (look up stories of what atheists in the US military have to put up with) it even happens about sexual and musical preferences.

        Other commenters hit the nail on the head. It’s all about insecurity. As advanced as we are, we’re all very, very frightened creatures seeking validation. It takes maturity to realize that other people’s choices, or differences of opinion don’t invalidate your own.

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