Thursday, 8 August 2013

Booze culture. It's everywhere.

I don't go to bars, and I live in a green lefty kind of city where it seems everyone bikes and juices and cleanses and does yoga and eats local. I live in a bit of a bubble. So it's surprising how many references there are to drinking in my day-to-day life. Yesterday, I nipped out to a local farmers' market to get out of my own head. There was a little booth selling homemade cordials, and I stopped for a taste. The woman at the booth makes the cordials herself, and she talked a bit about her flavours, ingredients, methods, that sort of thing. I chose a lemongrass-plum cordial (very tasty!) and the woman commented that it would be great with gin. Now I haven't been very public about quitting drinking, but I said, kind of without thinking, "Not for me, I quit drinking a while ago."

Well, the reaction! The woman selling the cordials said, "Oh, I love my drink. I'd never give that up." A guy standing next to me tasting a sample said, "No, I wouldn't go that crazy! Give up drinking! Sure, I'm cutting back on sugar, but booze? No, that's just nuts."

I'm not making this up. Two strangers, reacting to what I really thought was a throwaway line, while I was buying a no-alcohol beverage! And they were so adamant. Maybe I'm naive, but I really was surprised. I said I wasn't suggesting anything, I was just trying the cordials because I don't drink anymore, and that set off another round of exclaiming from the two. Holy! I mean, I wasn't ripping the gin from their cold dead hands or anything. I was in no way preaching. I don't care all that much who drinks what. I walked away with my cordial, leaving them raving to each other about not giving up drinking. Weird moment, that. Did I hit a nerve?

Then today at the grocery buying sparkling water and limes. (Hey, I sound like I'm always buying drinks. I do like having tasty drinks around!) It's a tiny store, and people bump into each other there enough times that eventually everyone gives up pretending not to see anyone and actually says hello. So the guy next to me in the lineup peered into my basket and said, smiling, "Let's see, looks like margueritas?"

I said no.
I shook my head.
"Plain old gin and soda with lime?"
Finally I answered, "Nope. Sparkling water and lime, actually."

He looked blank for a sec, and then said, "That's so healthy, yes, chelating, and the lime helps with the chelation, really really good for you, now I like a drink myself once in a while but yes, so healthy..." and proceeded to canonize me for buying water while defending himself for liking a drink. I tried to change the subject to the baking soda and sea salt he was buying, but it didn't take, and by then I was done at the till.

It's everywhere. The funny thing is, I was mostly worried about telling people I know that I'm not drinking. So far I've only told a few, but everyone has been amazingly supportive. (They're probably relieved.) But in both these conversations with strangers, I really did make the people uncomfortable, just by not joining in on the "I love booze" chatter! Sure, I could have just smiled and nodded, but I actually didn't want to pretend.

Later on, when I picked up come cooking wine (it really is for cooking) I braced myself for another round of the same, but the cashier just commented blandly on the weather. I smiled and nodded, "Yes, beautiful day." What a relief!


  1. Being a non conformist sheep is so cool, me 570 days sober love it ! Let the herds of deluded sheep drink and follow each other ba ba a, me super cool raw with sparkling water and living life for real.

    1. 570 days! Holy, that a lot of days. Big congrats to you. And yes, you're spot on. Drinking the sparkling and living real life is way better. Here's to the new nonconformists! Thanks for reading.

  2. Hi Thirsty! First, thanks for finding me :)I've added you to my Blogger list of folks to read. I don't get to comment very often on Blogger because it doesn't play nice with my iphone, and I do most of my blog reading/commenting on it, but I'll stop by to say hi from time to time when I get on my desktop. I'll be reading though.

    (I always like to let new Blogger friends know that.)

    It's so funny how most of our friends could care less about our stopping drinking, and can turn into our biggest supporters, and mean while, like you said, the strangers are the ones who freak out the most. I want to say to them, "why does it matter to you if I'm drinking or not??"

    I buy a lot of lemons and limes too, but I use mine in my juicer. They add a really nice citrusy kick.

    Your story made me think about the first time I went to Vegas sober. My friend and I were walking along the strip, and one of the guys working at a nightclub tried to get us to come in for a drink "Ladies drink free tonight!" he said. But I said, "nah, I quit drinking a few months ago." And you know what he said, "that's awesome! I need to do that too. Maybe I will..." So you just never know.

    Hope all is well, feel free to stop by anytime. I'll support you however I can! Congrats on stopping drinking. Like Vegas guy said, "That's awesome!"

    ~ Christy

    1. Hi Christy.

      Thanks so so much for reading and commenting. Hooray! People reading and talking to each other about all this. It's just unbelievably grand, I think. (Also, thanks for the Blogger-iphone info. I shouldn't be surprised that they won't play together.) And yes, it really is unfathomable why a random stranger cares who drinks and who doesn't. But support from friends, including new online friends, is awesome. I can't believe how helpful it is. Love that Vegas guy story, too! That's just the last thing you'd expect there, isn't it? All is well here, 38 days sober and I really love it. Who knew it would be so much better than drinking my head off every night? Though if I has actually ever thought of it that way I guess I would have had at least an inkling... Take care and thanks again for saying hi, and for reading!