Social And Drinking

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I was in a situation last night that I encounter rarely. My wife and I went out with another couple. (That alone is something I rarely encounter, much to the chagrin of my wife, but not the point of the story.) I had been briefly introduced to the wife and had not met the husband though I knew we shared a love of biking.

We arrived at their home where we were to spend some time before heading to a restaurant. The first question I was asked was whether I wanted a Scotch.

Let me acknowledge that the couple was clearly being gracious. It is just that it has been well over a decade since I have consumed any significant alcohol. It takes two drinks these days to make me tipsy and with 3 I may not be sharp enough to drive. (As a complete aside I now take antihistamines twice a day which when mixed with alcohol make me very drowsy. This will become relevant to the story a bit later.)

This is by no means a moral statement. From 18-35 I would drink to excess whenever the occasion called for it. One of my favorite nights included 10 gin and tonics on an empty stomach, a minor blackout and waking up the next day dressed in most of my suit with all the lights on in the apartment and the door to my apartment open. Fortunately I managed to close the door to the building of the three flat so no one walked in on me.

I also begrudge no one as much alcohol as they want to consume.  As long as they drink no more than allows them to drive safely or not throw up on me, lets party on Garth.

But here I am in a social situation with my wife’s friends. I want them to be comfortable. I do not particularly want to share what drugs I am on. So how should I answer the question, “Would you like a Scotch?” In my case I respond, “No thanks but can I have a glass of water?” After a puzzled look and a polite inquiry of whether I drink at all, I say that I do and leave it at that, we sit. I, being socially retarded, begin to worry whether I should have just taken a drink. My gut says be yourself. My gut however is also socially retarded.

I do have a glass of the sparkling wine we brought over. But at dinner here I am again. After perusing the menu I am queried as to what I am going to order to drink. I have been busy trying to decide between the fish tacos with tilapia or the chicken. My eyes have not strayed over to the drink menu. I do know that drinking is an important part of socializing for some.  As I said, I do not want someone to not drink because I do not. A few non-alcoholic drinks are suggested by our dinner companions, with just a bit too much enthusiasm almost smacking of aggression it seems to me. I stick to water and change the subject.

They and my wife each ordered a drink. They did not order a second. I being me am concerned that I stopped them from having more. I just focus on being as friendly and conversational as possible. This comes not easily for me with strangers.  

We come to the last act of the evening back at their home for awhile and I turn down a port. By this time I sense that they are used to me and not bothered– at least by my non-drinking. The conversation goes smoothly.

I probably could have made it easier on all of us by declaring my addiction to antihistamines as a reason for drinking little. I am not built that way. The drugs I take and the reasons why are my private business. At my advanced age I expect that people will or will not like me for the entire package rather than any one quirk.

I just wish that I had a better developed social radar. Maybe I should get out more.

About 48facets
What you read is what you get.

6 Responses to Social And Drinking

  1. Frank says:

    You did the right thing, brother, and your radar was right on. I can’t drink more than 2 drinks either. Never have been able to. But I think these days it’s cool to drink when you want, but not feel pressured to do so. We’re growups now, and we can have conversations that don’t need to be greased by G&Ts. I like the occiassional drink, but I can’t drink much. So. I might have one….but never a Scotch before dinner. I’d be either too buzzed or burping to make a diff.

    You did the right thing.

  2. 48facets says:

    At 50+ I am still not totaly comfortable in my skin, always worried about the perceptions of others. I am getting closer.

    Next time I am in Philly, hopefully before but no later than the WAW event, we can go out for 2 beer binge. We can binge on laughter and great conversation.

  3. PeachFlambe says:

    It is amazing how much pressure there is in our society to drink. When I was 35, I quit drinking entirely for about 6 years – I was running a lot and fitness was a priority. There was constant joking and pressure, and the occasional comment that I’d make a good designated driver. But I considered it my own little sociology experiment to watch people go from cool to silly to sloppy without even realizing it. The scary part was that back then – and still today – far too many of those people think it’s ok to drive drunk, and are passing down these attitudes to their kids.

  4. 48facets says:

    I was thinking about you as I wrote this. I was wondering how you handled it especially working in a culture where that was a big part of socializing.
    I have had a lot of respect for your decision at that time.

  5. pax romano says:

    I’m late to this party … I must have had too much to drink 😉

    I do not drink much when I am out as I like to be in control and find that booze makes me feel all warm and mushy, and nobody likes warm and mushy in a public situation – therefore I confine my imbibing to home where I can be as warm and mushy as I want to be (“oh my god, I LOVE that song, I have not heard it in years, it reminds me of…blah, blah blah”).

    That said, in public I limit myself to one drink at the start of the night or the dinner and one at the tail end. You might have just said yes to the Scotch and nursed it – or maybe just asked for some wine and nursed it. People seem to like when you say yes to that first drink(why is that?).

    In any case, I don’t think anyone would have thought any less of you had you just said, “No thanks, I am not drinking tonight, I’m on medication” … then again, maybe they would have 😉

  6. 48facets says:

    Pax, from what I hear you can’t be late to the party because it does not start until you get there. That is the rumor anyway.

    From a social point of view I should have taken a drink and nursed it for awhile. That would have given me time to size up the people and to make an impression other than the he is not a drinker one. Interesting thought. Thanks.

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