Don’t drink? Are you mad?

17 05 2011

What do you mean you don’t drink?

The horror in people’s voices when you tell them you don’t drink alcohol is rarely masked. Apparently, it is inconceivable to the majority of the folk I meet, that someone would actively make a decision not to drink alcohol.

To me it is inconceivable that you would drink something you don’t like the taste of when you’re not thirsty, just to fit in with those around you. And yes I do drink tea in the pub.

I’ve grown up around alcohol drinkers, I understand, in Britain, it is a cultural norm. What I don’t understand is the blatant disrespect for people who choose not to drink alcohol for no reason other than they don’t want to, or indeed any reason without question or justification.

If it was for a religious reason, it would be accepted, if it was because I was a recovering alcoholic, it would be pitied, because I just don’t want to, I am alienated and questioned.

I am asked why and if my response isn’t good enough, I am often asked why, again and again and again, but it doesn’t stop there. People then proceed to rhyme off different, seemingly less strong or offensive tasting drinks in the hope I might change my mind and suddenly like alcohol. They pry for some kind of secret key to my decision as if I’m from a different planet and must be studied.

They ask questions trying to find out if I was an alcoholic, which is an acceptable reason for being T-Total. Having binged to excess is a good reason for not drinking alcohol, not wanting to and especially not liking the taste is apparently a bad reason.

After all the prying, the conversation usually ends with a disappointed, “so you just don’t want to drink then?” Detective fail on the part of the inquisitor. Exhaustion from me at the uneccesary interrogation.

This doesn’t just happen with new acquaintances either, people who have known me for years but refuse to accept or understand my choices still try to pressure me to drink alcohol. It gets me so angry. What is the big fucking problem?

If this was about sexual preference, religious ideology or political leaning, most reasonable human beings wouldn’t ask such searching and personal questions.

Social ettiquette dictates you don’t ask a gay man why he doesn’t want to shag a vagina or a Muslim why they don’t eat pigs. Why is it acceptable or even expected to question someone’s social beverage choice when it differs from the norm?

The one place I was never interrogated about my abstinence from alcohol was at a nightclub I used to work at, where Class A’s were the chemical of choice. Of course they ask the same nosey questions about drug taking as drinkers do about alcohol, but on the whole, they accept and respect far quicker my choices not to consume.

I spent many years justifying my abstention from alcohol and at times drugs. I enjoy the atmosphere of pubs and clubs, I quite like the company of drunks, less so those off their tits on class a’s, I just choose not to participate in consuming foul-tasting, mind-altering substances. I don’t think it’s anyone’s business but my own, sadly it seems I am alone in thinking that way.

I am not weird, I’m just not a sheep who does what everyone else does to conform with my peers. I value my individuality, I do not claim allegiance to straight edge, as my choice is not about belonging or accpetance. I simply don’t like the taste of alcohol and drink only when thirsty. It’s a basic concept most sheep don’t want to understand. Their problem, not mine.

This was not written by a teenager who is not of legal age to drink.

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