I don’t drink alcohol.
It’s not a religious thing, it’s not a moral thing, it’s not anything but, like, I just don’t drink the stuff. I’ve never really drank it. And I come from moonshine country, Southern tailgating, the mountains where a shot of Jack Daniels is a perfectly acceptable treatment for congestion regardless of age when there’s no fancy Robutussin or Mucinex in the medicine cabinet. Believe me when I say, I certainly don’t frown upon responsible use of it, and I don’t feel any disrespect toward those who party hard on the weekends. I’m not tryin’ to be “high and mighty” (one of my mom’s favorite phrases when referring to people with over-the-top self confidence) about anything. I just don’t, y’all.
Cocktails are pretty little things, though, and they instagram well.
I take the ever-so-popular SSRI, Zoloft, for general anxiety. The dose works best for me around the clock when taken in the evening, smack dab in the middle of happy hours, dinners with friends, the time of day when most mamas are dreaming of that glass of wine after parenting so hard. My body doesn’t play well with mixed substances, so I politely decline alcoholic drinks because, well, do you want to drag my half-coherent ass out of some establishment?
But I’m not writing this because I want you to know about my non-alcoholic preference. I’m writing this because I want you to know that when you repeatedly ask why I’m not drinking or try to guess/tell me why you think I don’t after I’ve politely declined, you make the situation uncomfortable and annoying. When someone says, “no thanks,” that should be enough to be understood. Time to move along, honey!
The more ridiculous encounter is when someone asks, “why?” No, people, just no. To me, that’s as asinine as asking someone why they’re breathing. Is an answer really necessary? Why does it matter so much? Can we have a conversation about something else? I’m really good at that, actually.
In an effort to turn the table on the persistent person with drink-in-hand, I’ve started responding with how crazy and anxious I am, how I never really drank, how I’m on Zoloft, and how if I drank now, I’d be flat on my face in half an hour. Because no one really wants to talk about anxiety and anti-depressants in the middle of an enjoyable, light-hearted atmosphere. My goal is to make the situation even more awkward and uncomfortable:
Person: “Why are you not drinking?”
Me: “I’m good. Water’s good.”
“Hahaha! Why, though? Can’t I get you something?”
Me: Nah, I have some relatively high anxiety and I’m medicated… on Zoloft.. like Mike Tyson.”
Me: I really enjoy taking pills, though. All of the pills. I consider myself more of a pill person than a drink person. I’m CRAAAAZAAAAAYYYY!”
Here’s a little story for you:
A few weeks ago I ordered food online from a “restaurant & bar” type of place. I had a few minutes to spare before picking up the order which would be waiting for me at the bar area, so I ran into a nearby Starbucks for a Friday evening pick-me-up. “Happy hour coffee” coupled with my daily dose of magical nerve pills helps me to achieve the perfect balance of awake, alert and relatively energetic yet calm and collected throughout the evening so that I can accomplish some creative fun stuff after the little one heads to bed. It also protects my loved ones from imminent danger, because I am not joyful without caffeine+SSRI “cocktail”… (See what I did there?)
Anyway, I waltzed up to the bar and hopped up on a stool, grande mocha in hand. Across the way were folks enjoying happy hour specials and conversation in celebration of the week ending. I held up my coffee cup and nodded toward a lady looking at me. Cheers!
The bartender approached and asked if I needed a drink. NEEDED. Bahaha. Yes. Yes, I do, actually. “I’m fine, thank you,” I said, and nodded toward the Starbucks cup in my left hand. Her eyes narrowed down toward the coffee. “I placed a to-go order.” She politely said it would be out in a few minutes, and turned away.
My eyes locked with hers. She was straight up side-eyeing me. And I wondered what she wanted to ask next, just as much as she probably wondered what the hell was wrong with me, sauntering up to the bar on a Friday evening with five more minutes to wait, and opting for a coffee over a cocktail. Or maybe, it was nothing. Maybe she admired my choice. Maybe she was tired and could use a good latte herself. Regardless, she didn’t press me further after I declined to order a drink, and that, to me, was class. She brought my order out, we exchanged “have a good night,” and I left her a little tip for sparing me an uncomfortable grilling about my decision to decline a drink.
And then, I drove home, ate, enjoyed my medicine for dessert, and had a happy Friday night.