(In response to this on Slate’s ladyblog.)
I drink alcohol in the way that people (including myself) drink coffee in the morning: because I like it. Drinking alcohol is a choice I’ve had to explain to my mother since I turned 21 and started ordering beer with dinner when we go out, or accepting a few glasses of wine from Mimi when she has us over for a meal. No, I’m not drinking to get wasted. (Although I have left Mimi’s house a little looped on occasion.) Yes, I’ll pay for my beer. Why am I drinking it? Because it’s a glass of delicious, malty, hoppy, liquid comfort and I’m of legal age to do so.
It isn’t that I have a problem with alcohol. In fact, I haven’t had a drink in over 20 days. I miss it, I admit. But even when I’m imbibing, I try not to overindulge. (Especially now that I’m in my 30s. Hangovers last an eternity for me.) I never had a drink in high school. (Really.) My first experience drinking was about a week into my freshman year of college when an older kid across the hall made a packie run. I got a six pack of hard cider and a six pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. I had a couple of drinks and felt that warm sensation spread out from my belly and into the rest of my body for the first time. My face flushed. I went to bed. It was pretty unremarkable.
But I pressed on. I learned to appreciate beer on a trip to Montreal when I was running out of money paying for cocktails. I went to parties and made bad choices because I’d had too many shots. But I also continued to spend weekend nights cruising Barnes and Noble and having coffee with my friend who didn’t drink and didn’t have much patience for hanging out with those who were drunk. Her choice to stay sober made sense to me and I respected it. She smiled politely and changed the subject when I’d talk about something that happened at a party with a plastered mutual friend.
Being a drinker doesn’t mean I don’t know how sobriety works. I know a lot of people who don’t drink. Whether they’re alcoholics, have a family history of alcoholism, or–like my Mom and the author of the Slate piece–just don’t like the taste of alcohol. But I understand these people aren’t sticks in the mud who can’t appreciate a good time because they can’t or won’t drink. Just like hanging out in bars and having a few beers doesn’t automatically make you an out-of-control, cretinous meathead.
It takes a combination of shots, beers, and an empty stomach to make that happen.