Sunday, October 19, 2008

"That's weird."

Okay. This may not be the place for this. But, hey, it's my story and it is a little interesting.

I went out the other night. Without too much detail, I had dinner with a woman. Yep.

So, she orders a glass of wine. Red wine. A Cabernet (is that supposed to capitalized?).

I order my drink. A big glass of ice water. With lemon. I sometimes order two. At the same time. I was trying to impress, so I only ordered one. I order two when I have been out for a run a few hours before any dinner to save the waiter/waitress the time going back and forth refilling my glass (a true Al-Anoner aren't I? Thinking of the waiter!).

So, this woman says, "Aren't you going to have a drink?"

I say, "Nope. I don't drink."

She says, "Why is that?"

I say, "I stopped about a year and half ago. I saw what it has done to some people that have become addicted to alcohol, and I didn't want to take the chance of it affecting me."

She says, "Do you have a problem drinking?"

I say, "Nope. Just don't want to drink."

She says, "That's weird."

In truth, she may have said, "You're weird." And in truth, she's right. I am weird. I have idiosyncrasies all over the place.

This is not the first time this has happened to me. Not the being called "You're weird" thing - but that has happened to me before too.

A few weeks ago, in Chicago, I was out to dinner with a group of business people who were looking at the wine list. They picked something expensive to drink and expense (which I have always had a problem with - the drinking an expensive bottle of wine and expensing it thing. I always felt like I was ripping off the company).

Anyway, the wine was brought over and the waiter/wine pourer guy, started his pouring job. I said, "No thanks."

One guy asked me after the second round, or second bottle, "Why don't you drink?" My reply was, "I stopped drinking about a year and half ago. It made me sluggish. And I didn't like the feeling the next day." This started a whole conversation on drinking and the effects of red wine versus white wine, versus drinking mixed drinks versus beer.

A few weeks before that, I went to dinner with a few friends and this lady sat across from me. She saw I wasn't drinking and offered me a sip of her beer. I have no idea why, although we were joking around with each other.

I said "No thanks."

She asked, "Don't you like beer?"

I said, (it was right before the Olympics), "I am in training for the Olympics. And I need to maintain a regimen of high calibre liquids."

She replied, "Oh really? Which event are you training for?" (She was definitely serious)

I replied, "Boxing. I am a boxer. And I am going over to Beijing for the boxing events and if possible a Boxer Rebellion Reunion ceremony."

I don't think my humor was catching on to her. But the guy next to her was starting in. He said, "Oh yes. How is the boxing training coming along?"

I said, "Good. But I misplaced my Gold Medal from the 2004 Olympics."

It was funny to me. Now, granted, if I have a glass of wine, beer or Scotch, it would have been in all likelihood a whole lot funnier.

I am now at a loss for making the excuse as to why I don't drink - that is, I can no longer use the Olympics as an excuse or reason as to why I don't drink any more.

I am being pressured by old friends saying, "Joe, you don't have a problem."

I make a lot of people VERY uncomfortable that I don't drink. And I of course, go out of my way saying it's perfectly okay for you to drink. It doesn't bother me if you do.

I stopped drinking when my soon to be ex-wife and I went to therapy and he asked her if she had a problem drinking. She of course said, "No, not I." He said, "Try not drinking for six weeks." In my Al-Anoner way, I said, I would stop drinking - to show my luv and support."

I thought she would blow right through the six weeks without a drop - proving that she was right although I knew she had a problem!!! It bothered me that it was only a six week test. It needed to be longer. I was wrong. Second day - she was drinking.

I - however - stopped.

I "kept it stopped" when my wife went to rehab and I heard a lady say this in the rehab center and it scared the crud out of me. If you get nothing else from this blog ever - this is probably the most defining thing I have learned about alcohol and it being cunning and baffling and how it still scares me.

It was when she said this:

"My father was an alcoholic. I married an alcoholic. I divorced him and remarried. My second husband became an alcoholic. I divorced again. Then my son became an alcoholic. I am, now 52 (she looked 72), and now here I am. In rehab. And I am the alcoholic.

I said, to myself, "Holy SHIT!!"

I asked the rehab counsellor "how this could happen?" He (a member of AA himself) "I don't know."

I asked, "Could this alcoholic button switch on for me too at some age?"

He said, "I don't know."

I said, "Should I keep off the alcohol?"

He said, "I don't know."

"Damn", I thought. I don't want this to happen to me. So, I stopped.

That's my story. Albeit - a long one.


Kim A. said...

I understand completely. I have chosen to abstain for the very reasons you mentioned. My mother is recovering, my ex died from the disease and my son is a out there now. Am I next? I don't know but I'm not going to play Russian Roulette because the stakes are too high for me. Alcohol has taken too much from my life. Alanon says I have a choice. I made it. My mother has a great saying she got from the Big Rooms. "There is nothing wrong with me that alcohol won't make worse." For me, that is as true for the Alanoner as the AAer. Namaste

Anonymous said...

Oh my God!!! I couldn't belive this topic today,,my exhusband used marihuana every day since I met him,but I was thinking was part of our old days so I used with him a lot of times ,but with the time I was smoking with him every other weekend or more just to be with him,after I saw how far was he going with his addiction,I didn't want to smoke with him or be with him.After 9 year and 2 wonderfull kids we are not longer together.
I met my actual husband another alcoholic this time I knew the last thing that i wanted to do was doing the same thing ,i didn't know he had a problem so we had casual drinks together ,but after i found out he has been sorber for 1year 1/2 ( I hope so).
And after that my biggest fear is to drink,but today after a long 10 days of work and my husband in a bussines trip I decided to stop an get a beer, just one cold beer ,,i now I feel lost,,Am I an alcoholic,Can I turn in one of them? why am i feeling guilty?

Cat said...

Ya know - I think my husband likes not going to events with me - because he does not have to explain his not drinking to anyone - thank you for this insight. Cat

Syd said...

It's interesting that people want to call you weird for not drinking. I would just say "no thanks". That should be enough. No means no, right? I may have an occasional beer when I'm on the boat but not with my wife around. I just don't need to drink at all.

Anonymous said...

I loved this "long" story, thank you. And I think your boxer reply was very funny.

It's no one's damn business if you or I drink or not.

I don't drink. I don't drink for lots of reasons: my family is full of alcoholics and drug addicts. I have drunk before, and I am able to sip a drink and stop. But basically, I just don't like the taste of anything except port, and I'm not going to bother to go out and buy that, so no, I can't be bothered to drink. When people ask me I usually tell them a variation of three things: 1) I don't like the taste; 2) it's too caloric and I'd rather spend my calories on chocolate cake; 3) I only drin really, really good red wine, and then only at Christmas and New Year's.

But lately I've been thinking, I don't have to tell anyone why I don't drink. If my not drinking bothers someone, then perhaps they are the one with the problem, NOT ME.

I never tried any hard drugs, because that was a chance I didn't want to take.

I did smoke weed a few times, until, until the day I smoked some very expensive, high quality puff my very good friend obtained for us. Well after a few puffs my friend and another friend had had enough, were high as kites. I smoked the rest of their joint, and then another entire joint by myself, and I still wasn't totally stoned. My friend said he kept waiting for me "to fall over" and I never did.

I realized then that I could be that person who could smoke, drink, pop pills and shoot up all at the same time and never get high enough. That with my family background I was probably NOT much different from the rest of them. So I stopped that too. Now I am also in OA and the next thing I want to let go of is sugar. I do not think I abuse it, but I have to admit that it may control me, and not me it.

Anonymous said...

I also don't like the taste of booze....which I am happy about. My brother died last year at age 65 and by the time he died he smoked too much and drank a 5th of whiskey every day. The family gene is too real.

The weird thing for me is that my alkie hubby who has been in AA for 8 years will buy a bottle of tequila for me to make fruity drinks at home. We stopped at a restaurant and he ordered me a margarita before I was there even though I was driving. I don't get it. If I wanted it I would get it for myself. It is not important to me. My alanon friend says he does it to relive "the old days". I will drink when I want to, but I usually don't want to.

catherine said...

Boxer Rebellion Reunion -- HILARIOUS!!

I can totally, totally relate to this. I never drank; just don't like it. And I found myself constantly being asked to justify "my position". Some people are simply curious and there's no harm in that. But others, like your date, do think that it is weird. The expectation was that I was declining a drink because I have an addiction, and that was an acceptable reason, something people sort of understood. What people could not seem to accept was that I just didn't F-ing want to. And, I found they often became derisive or even defensive, as if I was somehow judging their behavior.

Here's how I've handled this: I lie. At a bar I get ginger ale or a club soda with a lime. They look like real drinks and if people ask I tell them the bartender made it special for me. At restaurants I decline the first one and if they press I say I'll have one later. If they press again (like one of my pushy clients did), then I order one and let it sit there on the table. If they ask AGAIN, and yes they do, then I say it was too sweet for me and change the subject.

I was at a party last month thrown by a super-successful, richy-rich attorney. He offers me a drink like this:
Lawyer: What's your poison?
Me: Club soda's poisonous enough, thanks.
Lawyer: I'm not getting you that. You have to have a drink or nothing.
Me: I see. I'll go without, thanks though.
Lawyer: Come on!
Me: Eric, you're 43 years old and trying to peer pressure me into drinking? You come on!

He still didn't get it. I don't get it either. Oh well, I got my own club soda.

FrannyGlass said...

Your Boxer Rebellion Reunion made me laugh out loud. Great post. I rarely drink anymore, and never around anyone working he other program. I don't need to...and frankly don't enjoy it very much. Like other posters, I'd rather save the calories for something really important, like a Mars bar! Truth is, I've seen enough drinking and drugging to last me a lifetime.

mermaidgirl said...

This is a great topic...
When I discovered my current and second husband was an alcoholic-it was devastating to me-as it was to many of you. The part of this story that is difficult is I enjoy being an adult and the benefits that come with it. My first husband was an executive chef and I learned from him a lot of about wine and alcohol in general. He was not an alcoholic, but I truly enjoy a beer, or a fine glass of wine and this to me was a wonderful way to enjoy life and the fruits of it (sorry about the pun).

I also totally understand and respect others if they choose not to and my husband chooses not to-has been sober for 4-1/2 years so far. But, I must say it was and sometimes is very difficult to enjoy a velvety Pinot Noir while he is limited to a Coke. It isn't the same-and I miss that.

simply...lilli! said...

the interesting thing for me is just how differently one will look at this same subject of explaining why one isn't drinking, depending on whether alcoholic or not. For more than one reason I hardly ever drink, one of them being that my tongue is oversensitive to certain tastes. Most alcoholic drinks will taste like nail polish remover to me. So quite obviously, I say "no", when offered a glass of wine or almost any other alcoholic drink. More often than not, people will ask if I don't drink in general or if I want something else maybe. I say I don't drink, in general. Sometimes plus explaining why, sometimes sans. Either way, the answer "that's weird" is a regular one. It always struck me as being weird that people think it's weird not to drink. It used to annoy me that it's generally looked upon as being "normal" to drink or smoke cigarettes, and "weird" not to. Now with the smoking it has been changing over the years, the drinking is still different.

Lately I've come to question my way of looking at people's answers to others not drinking though. I think being an alcoholic or child/spouse/whatever of an alcoholic, we have grown oversensitive, focusing on what for us is the problem a lot of times, forgetting that for another the subject may not be of as much importance.

I now think that I have often misjudged people's intentions. It's not so much somebody not drinking they think to be weird. It's simply somebody being different from themselves, in what way ever.

I went out with a group of people the other night and everybody ordered Paella. I was the only one to have something else. I despise shellfish. I hate the taste of it. The look of it as well. So I made my order and everybody looked at me and asked why I wasn't having the Paella. I told them. They said "that's weird".