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Inebriation

I am not a drinker. And I don’t mean I am not a heavy drinker or even that I drink in moderation. I mean I don’t drink. Ever. When people hear this they’re surprised dumbfounded because really, how many 20-somethings say this when offered a beer? When I go out with my friends, mine is the only Schweppes or Perrier (with lemon, please) among the beers at the table.

When I lived in the UK my boss was quite taken aback at the fact that after five years in France I wasn’t hooked on champagne intravenously. I actually like the idea of champagne. It’s pretty, bubbly, it feels funny on your tongue and the golden hued liquid looks so chic in those skinny flûtes. So very glam! But taste-wise, my taste buds are not impressed. Nor are they by Merlot, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. A rough, unpolished lump of coal I am, yes, and I fear I shall never turn into a diamond as far as my taste in wine goes. But I am perfectly at peace with this because much as I love Paris, the French joie de vivre and bohemian lifestyle, my honest opinion is that nothing good ever comes from drinking. Unless you consider making a fool of yourself, questionable one night stands, peeing in the kitty litter box (I actually know somebody who did this under the influence, you can’t make this up) driving recklessly and vomiting for 24 hours afterwards something good.

Much as I may respect and like you, when you’re drunk that admiration takes a nose dive and you’d better hope I don’t see you hung over with your head over a toilet, reeking of putrid metabolized ethanol because to me you could not sink any lower.
Seriously. Nothing good can come of drinking. You may think that the few hours of exhilaration and inhibition-free partying are worth the whole morning-after nastiness and long term effects, but really, what does that say about you? The sans alcohol you. Something might be amiss if you find you cannot enjoy yourself without being inebriated.

You may also think that getting drunk every once in a while never hurt anybody. Everybody does it, right? Nobody’s getting sick. Well here’s where knowing just a little bit about how our bodies work will tell you otherwise. Yes, you recover quickly after a night of heavy booze especially if you’re in your (roaring) 20s. But even if your liver gets the job done, it doesn’t mean it’s doing it happily. Your liver is working in a cubicle, sorting out the piles of papers you’re constantly shoving on its desk, getting grumpier with every ounce of liquor you ingest. Then in your 30s you begin struggling after every hangover and start telling yourself “man, I’m getting old”. I know people my age who by now are downright alcoholics. The saddest part is that they’re actually proud of it. You probably know their sort too, the ones you crossed in the dorm hallway and who told you with a sense of weird satisfaction and pride “man, last night was wicked! We got sooo wasted!”. Fast forward 7 years and they’ve got DRUNK spelled in big bold letters on their foreheads.

Here’s where you tell me that drinking in moderation is not the same as being an alcoholic. And I agree. I am not a drinking Nazi. The choice I’ve made is my own, and I’m not trying to impose it on anybody. But I am really not fooled by the argument that a glass of wine with a meal is good for you, that it contains antioxidants, blah, blah. No, that shit won’t fly. Yes, wine might contain antioxidants but it’s still alcohol. A drug which has no beneficial effect no matter which way you look at it. So why not drink berry juice instead  – more antioxidants, no alcohol. Because people like the numbness in their brain afterwards, that’s why.

The thing with me is that I don’t like the taste of any alcoholic drink I’ve tasted so far. So why pretend I like beer when I think it tastes like crap? Why pretend I’m fancy and order wine with my salmon en croute when really, I would rather have just water? Why endure the burning of my throat with vodka-based cocktails when I know they’re not doing me any good whatsoever? I don’t need to shed my inhibitions and start shouting when I’m out with my friends – our inhibitions are there for a reason: to stop us from acting like idiots. I don’t need alcohol to enjoy myself and I want to be able to remember clearly every moment worth remembering. How else would I get material for this blog? Ha!
A brilliant artist I know once said this regarding drugs: “I like how my brain works. I don’t need a bias in perception”. Word!

Comments (7)

  • I could have written this myself. I’m never going to understand the appeal of spending an awful lot of money in one night to be sick and feel like crap the next day. I vaguely get having a couple, maybe, but people who go out determined to ‘get totally wasted’ are bizarre to me. But then I’ve never been a drinker. I don’t like the taste or what it does to people either.

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  • I really appreciate this post! I gave up alcohol entirely when my husband admitted to me (when we were still dating) that he had a drinking problem and ended up in detox. He’s sober 3 1/2 years now and it’s something I do to support him. It’s not a hard sacrifice for me however, because I rarely drank before that. I, too, dislike the taste of alcohol. I’d only drink beverages that didn’t taste like alcohol, and never enough to even feel the effects of it. Why not just have a smoothie instead?

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  • I don’t like to get drunk, but I do like to have a drink of liqueur during the evenings or nights sometimes. It makes me relax. Right now, it’s 11pm on a Friday night, and I’m sitting down to do some maths with a gin and tonic (with a twist of lime).

    There are lots of studies out there about whether alcohol can have a negative or positive effect on creativity (whatever that means or however it’s measured). But I think the bottom line is that it’s mostly inconclusive (or if there are positive effects, it’s close to negligible, and you might as well drink a cup of coffee instead).

    Anyways, Alex, the thing about your argument is that drinking alcohol constitutes a spectrum, but you’ve mostly made examples of the bad cases—drunken antics of college buffoons or whatever. The trick to alcohol (for some people) is to drink just enough so you benefit from the positive buzz, and not enough so you make a buffoon of yourself. And then some people like the taste—nothing wrong with that.

    As you know in the UK, the culture is very much different. After our weekly applied maths seminar, our entire department would take the speaker to the pub for a drink.

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  • Like Carrie, I could have written this myself.

    I don’t drink. I sip to taste wines, but I’m always befuddled at how much I don’t like the taste. I only like super sweet wines like Port or ice wines, but that’s because I am not into wine…

    I like eating the wine though (cooked in foods), although I dislike red wine and alcohol.

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  • *alcohol in general.

    Reply
  • ugh. i totally agree with you.

    I myself, am a casual drinker. i used to not drink at all, then moved to london and became a mild alcoholic.

    I always accidentally drink to much if it tastes yummy then feel like crap and it’s totally not worth it.

    i agree, i don’t like the “finer” wines or drinks… my taste is cheap and yummy. give me some moscato for $4 a bottle and i’m good 😉

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  • I guess as that saying goes: “Everything in moderation”..and for me, it doesn’t mean, get really drunk only once in a while…it means, know your limit and be responsible ~ each time you drink, smoke, etc. If exercised in this fashion, one glass of wine here and there, to calm nerves, toast to a tradition, partake in one of life’s grandest social pleasures – why not? (and why has it become a social pleasure? It’s induces happiness when not abused, smiles, laughter) It’s like buying a pair of jeans, that you don’t need because you have other options hanging in your closet or really is a little bit over your budget – but you do it anyways because you have that human craving for something a little more sweet, a little more comfortable – a guilty pleasure to “treat” yourself when you feel you deserve it.
    Now, if you don’t like the taste – that’s an entirely different matter. Obviously no temptation there (and as for me, even the stench of beer makes me want to jump from a building), but a good wine is historical.

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