I'm not totally sure. Here's what I've got so far: my four part reasoning-
1. It's a matter of fear
really. I fear that I am not strong willed
enough to stop drinking
if I ever start. I know there are people who handle themselves very well, but I know (or see) a lot more who don't. Why should I think I'm going to be much better? And when I start, and I become addicted
, well geez that sucks. All those negative health
effects and such that I can only really account for before I'm addicted. I feel that once I get in too deep, I'll never be able to get out.
2. No one I truly admire
gets drunk. I have some friends
that don't drink, but very few. Those few are people I respect for other qualities (like social skills
, etc). I guess I also respect them for their resolve
, since there is a fair amount of unspoken pressure to drink. I also know some folks from high school
that (still) do not drink. They as well are people I look up to in certain areas of life. I often have to refer to a memory
of them to remind myself, "I'm not the only
3. I don't like the taste
of cheap alcohol
, and I don't want to spend money on stuff that tastes better. There may be exceptions to this rule, as splurging
can often be a lot of fun in itself, but nothing has come up yet. I'm really such a geek
that I usually splurge on stuff like headphones or disk drives or something.
4. I want to have the ability to loosen up
myself on command, I don't want to drink it out of a can
. I am not particularly good at this yet, but it's sort of a fun battle
with myself. In the end the only way I see I can lose is to give in
In my life I have had one beer
. It tasted terrible, but I enjoyed
it anyhow. I enjoyed being able to say "Yeah, I did it." For that hour or so I had about 5% reduced perception and my mind was very relaxed. I don't know if it was from the beer, or because I thought that's how I should behave. In any case, it helped to outline my goal. As for repeating this, I won't lie and say I don't want to do it at all ever again. There are times when I think it would be fun, different, or mind opening
. But there's something that I feel in the day time, the knowledge of what every other college kid is like on Friday
and Saturday nights
, it just steers me away. Sometimes I want to drink, but I pull myself back and say, "No, it's not for you." I'm pretty damned undecided on the matter, but for now I'm sticking to my rules. It feels like once I start, people will just want me to go farther and farther. Eventually I'll be like my roommate
- sit around and watch TV most of the time, come home drunk on various nights, and not care. It's all about fear
Looking into the future: I'm 18 now, and I know when I hit 21 my father will have a bottle of wine he has saved since the year I was born. My brother
, who was like I am now when he was 21, told my father, "No, I'm not going to drink." I'll tell my father, "Sure
." I'll tell him this because my father is one of the people I admire - he has a glass of wine every night with dinner, but he keeps it under control. If I knew I could be that, I might take up drinking. My mother
, on the other hand, is an alcoholic
(who doesn't admit it), so you can see why I can't be certain about my own resolve. I also figure that I shouldn't fear just one bottle of wine
, it will taste fine, and I can put my battle on hold for a night.
On the reverse note, my best friend
from high school and I just recently spent Thanksgiving
together in Cape Cod
with his family. This was a fairly wealthy, look I'm better than you type of family. Friendly from a distance
, if you know what I mean. At every function I went to with this family (one or two a day), there was alcohol. The mother of my friend thought of me strangely for not wanting to drink. This goes back to "Why do you care so much?" She even quietly pulled me over and tried to give me a little 'inside information', as if I didn't already know it, "You can drink, no one will call the cops
or anything. It's ok." The thought, "I don't want to" didn't really occur to her. And then there was my friend, who went to the point of switching
my drink for his; his contained vodka
. The truth is, when people start to care that much about me drinking, I start to care less about me drinking, and just go with it. So I pretended to sip from my vodka then accidentally
left it somewhere or something, but making comments
as if I had no idea about the switch. My friend later explained that he just wanted me to loosen up
. "I'm trying," I said.
Update: Spring, 2004
I've taken a while off E2, but I thought I'd come back and update this node. I'm graduating from college
in a week, and naturally a lot has changed since I wrote this. I now drink regularly, in moderate amounts, at parties exclusively. I've yet to throw up or pass out from drinking, and I don't mean to... I think that's taking it too far. But I have come to understand, on a personal level, the institution of alcohol and the role it plays in colleges and social environments like mine.
When I wrote of a matter of fear, I was also talking about being afraid that drinking might make me do something I don't want to do. This has not happened. Drinking gives people a mutually-accepted excuse
to do things they do want to do - it gives them a scape coat for off-beat behavior. I'm generally not afraid of doing things I want to do sober, but in order to do things with other people you have to get drunk together so you all (or both) have the protection. Most of my drinking happens at a particular campus residence house that hosts lots of loud, roudy parties that are always a viscerally
good time. Slowly but surely I've learned how different parts of my body could coordinate to do something called "dance," which is excellent.
On a couple of the specific points I made:
Admiration: I have no heroes in my life, it's only small parts of people I really admire
. In all the time I've spent working in college, I've had a hard time finding the right balance of partying and academics, so there is something to be admired about those who do drink (without wrecklessness).
Taste: There are a few beers
I've come to like taste wise, and mixed drinks can always taste good if done right. I didn't know enough about the various options when I wrote that.
The equation between partying
is perhaps a little unfortunate, but both necessary and insurmountable. It's nice to have a strong delimiter between "this is off time" and not. A friend of mine (who doesn't drink) disparately wishes that we could go back to the days when a party meant playing board games and telling ghost stories... as fun as that was, people want to move on and perhaps dig a little deeper into who they are and experiment more with who they can be. Alcohol, in that sense, is like the river
running through an unexplored forest, and we'd be collective fools not to hop on it.
I do still worry a little about the possibility of becoming an alocholic
. It's in my blood and there's nothing that can stop that. But I fear just as much the inability to relax and get a little crazy, even though that deficiency is more readily overlooked by society. To all the non-drinkers out there looking for advice: you do not have to start off by drinking until you puke, like some people do. Try it out, be with friends, slowly learn about your tolerance, and don't let what's unknown to you be intimidating
. It can lead to having an excellent time without disastrous consequences.
P.S. I never got that bottle of wine when I turned 21. I was studying at the University of Helsinki
that summer, and I let my new Italian friend pick the wine at dinner that night :)