Posted on April 4th, 2012
When one is undergoing a ‘break’ from alcohol, be it voluntary or prescribed, opinions such as the above become intensely irritating. One doesn’t want to listen to such self-justificatory statements from friends and acquaintances. Abstaining is not a critique of another’s indulgence. Having said this, it never fails to put the drinking party on the defensive.
Such a reaction tends to be much worse if you were regarded as somewhat of a big drinker or ‘massive lush’ before, at which point you can expect smug retorts such as ‘how’s that working out for you?’ when what they’re really thinking is how their nights out just got far less interesting with you on the San Pellegrino. Alcoholism and religion aside, non-drinking seems to be a concept that people struggle to get their heads around. ‘But why?!’ they say raising their hands to the heavens looking at you in disbelief. That is unless you can give them a medically acceptable reason at which point they soon pipe down and feel slightly stupid/sheepish for trying to pressure you into a round of Jäegermeister shots.
I have not had so much as a sip of alcohol for the last three months, although soon I shall be rationing myself the odd glass of wine and half pint of Guinness (no prizes for guessing why). During these 12 weeks I have found myself looking longingly at girls casually sipping a cocktail and had to restrain myself from sniffing the wine glasses of friends just to remind myself of what I’m missing. And miss it I do, but not in volume, in taste.
The drink that, so to speak, ‘got me’ this week was sake, after I caught up with a friend who had been to Zuma the night before. ‘Was it a heavy one?’ I asked her. ‘No, a glass of prosecco, a margarita and then a cup of sake at the end,’ she replied. Sake! Oh Sake! The thought of a cup of sake, slipping down my throat as cold as granite was enough to make me clasp my hands to my head. In this way, I may not be drinking, but I’m certainly thinking.
What really irks me since my bout of non-drinking is not the non-drinking itself, but the apologetic drinker. It’s all very middle class to prattle on about your mid-week drinking habit and how you need to cut down, but really why bother? Please don’t pooh-pooh it on my account. Have courage in your convictions! If drinking a glass of wine or a tumbler of scotch at the end of a work day makes you feel good or helps you relax, why deny yourself such a pleasure out of some repentant puritanical impulse? This kind of chat, when friends start to converse about how they need to ‘cut down’ becomes incredibly tedious. It’s a bit like telling a child chocolate bars are overrated. What’s the harm in a glass of wine every night? Drink it, enjoy it and then shut up about it. Or else convert to an alternative form of spiritual belief and bingo! Your problem is solved. And you might find it does wonders for your will power and your boring middle class drinking habit.