Life As a Non-Drinker

My Life as a Non-drinker

It’s become a somewhat familiar situation over the years. I’ll be at a party, or some other get-together, and someone will ask me something like “You want a beer?” Now if I’m asked this at a party full of relatives, I know that they are just joking around. Everyone in the family knows that I don’t drink alcohol. And in my family, that makes me the “Black Sheep.” 
Unfortunately, when someone asks me that at a get-together where people don’t know me that well, and I would respond “No thanks. I don’t drink.” I’m usually met with a lot of weird stares. Like I just admitted that I breathe a different gas than oxygen. I honestly don’t know what I could say that would make my choice sound less odd. 
“Hi, my name is Brian, and I’m the exact opposite of an alcoholic.” 
I suppose if I had previously been an alcoholic, my non-drinking lifestyle would make perfect sense to people. Perhaps it would even be considered brave, or a grand accomplishment to overcome such an addiction. But making a conscious decision to never try an addictive substance even once…not so much. 
The only experience I’ve ever had with alcohol was when I was five and I accidentally took drink form my uncle’s Rye & Coke that was in the same style glass as mine. Now, I’m not going to go and say that experience traumatized me for life, or anything. I think my distaste for alcohol has more to do with the fact that I’ve always been a picky eater. Always hesitant to try new things. You could call me a teetotaler, but I don’t like to drink tea either...or coffee. 
That’s right. If there is any sort of beverage that people will consume for the purpose of meeting socially, chances are I don’t drink it. I did once do something completely out of character and tried to drink coffee, but it was a no-go. I thought it tasted so bad, I couldn’t fathom how the drink ever became so popular. How could anyone have gotten past that horrible-tasting first mouthful to reach the point where they can get addicted to the caffeine? 
I just had to try and accept the fact that the beverages I drink will never be considered a prelude to having fun. No one ever says “Let’s meet for a Pepsi” or “You wanna get together for a milkshake?” (At least, not since the 1950s). 
I don’t know how I grew up with this aversion to alcohol. I certainly don’t have many non-drinkers in my family. My maternal grandmother was a daily Crown Royal drinker. Wine is a popular beverage on both sides of my family (like with my mom), as is beer (like with my Dad). Now if you’re thinking that my sobriety is due to years of me witnessing years of horrific alcoholic behaviour, nothing could be further from the truth. I grew up surrounded by a family of responsible drinkers, with no one ever going “too far”…well…except for maybe my brother. 
My brother was one of those “brilliant” teenagers who would have his friends over and throw a party whenever our parents went away for a weekend. On sever occasions I saw him get sloppy, throwing-up drunk; and my perfectly sober mind lets me remember it all very clearly. But in his defense, that was just him being young and stupid. Since he became a father, he’s always been much more responsible with his drinking. So while he was a perfect teaching example of what not to do, I never had any interest in drinking even before then. 
Luckily, my sobriety doesn’t impact the social element of my marriage. My wife will rarely drink alcohol, limiting herself to just an occasional drink on a holiday, or special occasion. She’ll opt for fancy mixed drinks like pina coladas, but mostly, we just end up drinking a lot of soft-drinks together. I don’t know what kind of drinker my son will grow up to be, but he’s certainly not going to get his start by raiding the home liquor cabinet...which we don’t even have. I’m not going to forbid him from ever having a drink, but hopefully I can teach him to be responsible about it. 
Do I avoid alcohol because I’m some uber-vegan health nut? Hell No! My body is far from a temple. I don’t refrain from consuming other foods and beverages in unhealthy quantities. I’m a great lover of pizza, and could eat it every day of the week (and sometimes do). I have a definite weakness for ice cream and other deserts. I’m certain that I drink way too much soda pop than what is considered acceptable; a beverage that is being condemned almost as much as alcohol these days. I am a product of the fast food culture, and I’m what the McDonald’s Corporation would call a “Heavy User.” My life has been dotted with only occasional stretches of a few years at a time where my body weight was considered “healthy”. Times when diet and exercise allowed me to shed some pounds, only to gain it back. 
Clearly I do have issues with maintaining self-control. So maybe that is why I’m so reluctant to try drinking. When it comes to consuming substances that make you feel good, I’ve shown to have problems with moderation. So why add one more? Of all the reasons I don’t drink, that seems the most plausible. It’s not that I think I won’t like it, but that I worry I will like it…too much. 
Have I ever been tempted to try drinking? There was a time when I got laid off one morning from a company I was working at. After clearing out my desk and being escorted out of the building, I spent the day wandering around the downtown area in a disillusioned state of shock. I ended up passing by a cart parked on the sidewalk and they were giving away cans of beer. I kind of laughed to myself at the bizarre timing of such a thing…if there ever was a time to start drinking, right? I ultimately just kept on walking past, but that was about as close as I ever came to trying alcohol. 
So what is it? Am I destined to forever be an outsider to fun times? I’ve often thought about what might make me change at this point in my life. Maybe the death of a loved one that would leave me looking for an escape? Perhaps a terminal medical diagnosis that would relieve me of any consequences and instill me with a “Live it up” attitude? Right now, I can’t make any statement with certainty. Who knows what the future holds...but as of right now, I’m a non-drinking, non-smoking, non-drug-taking, social outcast prude. 
So, if anyone is in need of a designated driver…I’m available.

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