Friday, August 16, 2013

angry nondrinker

Fellow News and Review writer Shoka wrote a pretty, let's say strong, piece in the SNR cocktail issue about not drinking in a "drunk world" to which I take some exception.  Believe it or not, I do know people who don't drink, including people who are allergic, and I can see that it can be really hard in certain social circles (mine).  But.  She asserts that "beer tastes like piss" even craft beer, and "mixed drinks taste like floor cleaner at best".  Hey that's her opinion and of course that is implied.  This part is pretty weird and I actually had to read it a couple of times to understand it:

"And when you're hanging out with friends, there's always someone goading you to have as much fun as they are by bottoming up, but “bottled courage” (or stupidity) can also come naturally. For example, hijack the garnish tray at the bar, and keep popping every olive, maraschino cherry and pickled onion until someone says, “This ain't a buffet, Kit!”—a memorable line from the classic prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold “Cinder-'fucking'-rella” story, Pretty Woman. If no one is classy enough to recite that jewel, declare it yourself. This will convince the tipsy that you may have surpassed their drunkenness level. Or you're insane. Either way, you won't get hassled to drink—if you don't get kicked out of the bar, anyway."

It's pretty rare that any of my friends goad me into drinking more. I might get a shot bought for me twice a year.  Most of this seems to apply to younger drinkers. Fair enough.  I could see how it could make you mad that so much centers around drinking, I've heard someone who's not into food express this same thing about how annoying it is that social stuff centers around leisurely meals (and after all certain kinds of eating can kill you as well).  She really seems pissed.


Caroline said...

Her experience is actually quite common among non-drinks and abstinent alcoholics. I am very interested in the recovery experience, for both personal and mostly professional reasons, so I listen a lot to folks who are off the sauce (planning on going to some open AA mtgs soon). A LOT of them talk about the shit they get for not drinking when they are bars. And they get this shit from their friends. There is a lot of talk about what drinks are the best to get so that people assume you are drinking something alcoholic and therefore don't pester you.

It really surprised me initially (because I hate to think such peer pressure exists!), but it is very common and it's important not to dismiss that.

Caroline said...

But I do agree that the judgmental attitude of her piece is over the top, and particularly misplaced for the special section.

But I hope she channels her ire into letters to her representatives to continue funding for NIAAA!

Anonymous said...

As someone who drank very little alcohol for many years, I can confirm that people trying to goad you into drinking with them is a common - and annoying - occurrence for a person who isn't drinking.

Even worse (much worse), I've seen friends trying to break their own devastating alcohol problems having to fend off the inevitable 'c'mon, just have a drink' from the folks they usually drink with. It sucks, and in almost every case the drinker has fallen off the wagon, happily encouraged by someone who should have known better. It sucks.


Anonymous said...

And, having just read the article in question- I'm not picking up on anger at all- just seems like she's joking about an uncomfortable subject.


Sacramento Punk Shows said...

as a non-drinker who spends a lot of time in environments where people drink a lot, I find it useful to just assume that everyone is actually straight edge, but trying to be ironic. Because I like misplaced and ill-defined attempts at irony

I do get offered and encouraged to drink a lot, but not nearly as much as I get offered the weed.

Anonymous said...

I quess she must samlpe piss and floor cleaner how else does she how it tastes

beckler said...

Interesting debate. I assume she has never liked alcohol from her hatred of the taste, not from being on the wagon. I shouldn't generalize my personal experience, which is that I don't pressure anyone to drink that doesn't. The other day I was designated driver and used the trick of bitters in soda water to just have something in my hand. I think that's an AA thing. Plus, it's hydrating!

I do have thoughts about certain on the wagon friends that they don't seem as fun when they're not drinking and wish that they could moderate their drinking. But some people can't. It would kind of be as weird to pressure someone to drink as it would be to pressure a pregnant lady to drink. Maybe people should just pretend their friend is pregnant, regardless of gender.

I just don't like the attitude that everyone who drinks has some sort of problem. Social drinking has been a cornerstone of drinking for most of civilization for how many years? Like it or not. It's part of the human social experience in much of the world.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that if she hates hanging out in bars that much she should just stop hanging out in bars.
From the really irks me when bartenders are put out by an order or don't know how to make a common cocktail and then expect you to tell them. For example, I gave up ordering old fashioneds years ago because they seem to be way out of the reach for most. Is it too much to think they might keep a basic cocktail book back there?

Anonymous said...

Well, now I've read the article for the third time, and I don't see anything where she says others shouldn't drink at all. I think you are reading that into it. Same for the comment about bars- she doesn't say (or imply) she hates being in bars - she says she doesn't like being pressured to drink.


Anonymous said...

I've noticed in the past that people pressuring me to drink when I'm not or to "keep up!" are usually the people who are already more drunkthan everyone else and are feeling self conscious that they're the only ones in that state, or they have a drinking problem in general and are feeling self conscious about that. Also, that hardly ever happens. It seems like it's more of a problem of hanging out with jerks than hanging out with people who drink.


Anonymous said...

Even more pretentious is having a single-named byline like "Shoka"

DJ Rick said...

Me and my virtually non-drinking self take offense to Shoka (and even more so "Vegdon" in the comments section) for making non-drinkers look like the most non-knowing-how-to-have-fun buzzkillers of all time.

Anonymous said...

I think she is, in general, a really lazy writer.

I will never forget her Nacheez review. She didn't want to taste it because she doesn't like cheese, fake or no, so she just wrote about that. Never even tried it!


Anonymous said...

How ironic that someone who writes regularly about vegan food calls out beer and cocktails for tasting nasty.

Liv Moe said...

Recently, Tim and I went out to dinner with two people who don't drink as a rule. After we ordered drinks my mind wandered to reasons they may not drink and then I realized why does it matter? Why am I even wondering this and it occurred to me that we don't normally dine with people who don't drink. Typically, most members in a dinner party of ours have at least one beverage of some sort.

As you know I like to drink. For better or worse, over the past few years it's occurred to me that the profession I'm in is awash in alcohol. Depending on the circumstances there are times that it would be awkward to turn down a drink. So much so that when I worked on an auction for a local non-profit the higher ups with the event were encouraged to atleast walk around with a drink because it put bidders at ease leading them to drink and hopefully bid more. Likewise, sometimes when I go out for drinks with colleagues, if the setting is intimate, not ordering a drink is awkward. If I'm not careful I could drink every night of the week between personal and professional events.

On a more personal note there were times when a certain well known local guitarist was fighting to stay straight and was offered drinks constantly after shows even from people who knew him well. It sucked.

Lastly, on a sadder note not long after Tim and I got married an old friend of mine OD'd and died. I hadn't seen in her in about a year because after she went through her last program she cut off all of her previous friends in order to avoid the pressure to fall into old habits. It annoyed me that friends who knew her history were so insensitive but I also think that it was probably also unintentional on their part. People like to be at ease with their friends and social drinking is often part of that.

So like I said, I've thought about this some in the past couple years and wondered about what it means that drinking has become the norm and that if you aren't drinking for some reason it others you. I'm not offering answers or criticism it's just something to consider and probably a condition of our culture worth pointing out.

beckler said...

Woah, no attacks on Shoka guys!!

Liv, I would say drinking has always been the norm, and that it has lessened a lot, especially with the decline of the two-cocktail lunch. Not to mention the advent of clean water - the lack of which made people more likely to drink ale than water. People in the US (and many more countries) love to drink. Wanting to be intoxicated is a natural drive, and even occurs in animals. Elephants will hella drink fermented alcoholic fruit, so why shouldn't I? JK, I'm not saying you're saying I shouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the elephants know how to par-tay!

Caroline said...

I wouldn't characterize humans or other animals as having a natural drive for intoxication. Most examples of intoxicated animals are exceedingly rare (bc intoxication is a really evolutionarily dumb thing to do), not naturalistic (bear breaks into keg stash! Caroline gives voles booze!), or just false (elephants eat fermented fruit for calories, not intoxication, they don't eat enough to get drunk). With humans it's infinitely more complicated because of social and cultural factors. I'd say the drive to do what our peers do is way bigger than any inherent motivation for intoxication. Also, a LOT of people, including Americans, don't drink and don't like intoxication. We don't know so many of them because a big part of our social development and life involves drink culture.

Obviously I think there are biological factors underlying alcohol drinking and substance use/abuse, but cultural and social influences are a significant driving force as well. I'm far from a teetotaler or prohibitionist, but it's undeniable that alcohol is a really really fucked up drug in our society. Maybe you and me and a lot of our friends have a pretty healthy relationship with it, but the economic, health, and mortality costs are fucking HUGE. And preventable. That's largely due to cultural and societal practices, not because of some natural drive.

beckler said...

Man, what a downer. Luckily I'm so drunk that I barely know what's being discussed here. I got my info about animals partying from a book I read a long time ago that I will trust you enough to know must have been b.s.

A random internet chart I found (always reliable) puts the proportion of adult abstainers at 30%. Which is waayyyyyyyyyy higher than the people I hang out with so I'm biased.

Anonymous said...

And re: social drinking being the norm... historically it's been all over the map in the US. It was unusual for women to drink prior to prohibition... women weren't even allowed in bars in many many cases. American men, on the other head, drank a ridiculous amount before 1919.

Prohibition changed the norms and women actually drank by the end of prohibition than before- but it cut men's alcohol intake by about half if I remember correctly.

After Dec '33 alcohol was legal again and drinking rates have slowly crept back up ever since. We're just about now hitting the same rates as the pre-prohibition era, except that it's more even between men and women.

All that just to say that I don't know that you can argue that there is a 'norm' here. There's not much consistency just in the US and when you look at other countries there is zero consistency- most muslim countries barely drink at all, for example.


Dave Smith said...

I wouldn't say most Muslim countries barely drink at all. In Saudi, homemade booze is called sidiqi (Arabic for "my friend"). It's all over the place (plus Saudi has a huge heroin problem or at least where I was).

It's considered morally acceptable for Muslims to lie about things that make them/Islam look bad. A good one is it isn't cheating if a Muslim man sleeps with a non-Muslim woman. You don't get reasonable statistics asking around, but you can see it in person when you're there.