I sit at a table just to the side of the dance floor. I'm enjoying the music and atmosphere when suddenly a man I've never seen before is standing in front of me.
"Hey," he says, smiling.
"Hey," I reply.
"Can I buy you a drink?"
"No thank you," I politely decline, "I don't drink."
"Why?" he inquires
It's a question I have gotten many times. "Why don't you drink?" I could just say it's because I'm straight edge, but that would be lying, and I don't like to lie. So I tell part of the truth. It's too expensive, not my thing, I only drink on certain occasions. I explain that I have 3-4 drinks during the entire year, each one designated on a specific day of my choosing. Always one drink each time.
I used to drink more, but in a very specific way. I've never been a bar drinker. I hate the bar scene. Though I have on more than one occasion gone to a bar just to prove I could get a guy to buy me a drink. I've never been a home alone drinker. That was always too expensive for me. No, I was what I like to call a, "drink to impress" drinker. It started with a college party, then Rocky Horror parties, a few parties exes took me to, and finally house parties my roommates threw at the apartment I lived at in Beverly. The upside to all of this (if you want to call it that), is that it wasn't a nightly or even a weekly occurrence. I can probably count the number of parties I went to in those days on less than 2 hands, maybe 2 at the most. However, as you can probably guess by my description I would drink to impress people.
These people are so cool. What the hell is this? How many shots? Is it okay to drink a shot of rum, whiskey, scotch and gin in rapid succession? Better not say no. Fuck, what the hell was I just doing? I can't remember 10 seconds ago. Things are happening. I'm naked. Don't say no. I want them to like me. I hate being around people. Just take whatever drink they give you. Impress them, get them to like you.
When I moved to western MA in 2008 I didn't drink as much, but I still engaged in drinking to impress. This time it was with my new Rocky cast. You know what's interesting? Being naked and drunk in an outdoor hot tub in the middle of January. I also might have had one at the club here and there, or in later western MA years at a friend's gathering (a lot more low key than the wild house parties I was used to).
Why don't I drink? The reasons I gave were true. It is too expensive, I do hate the bar scene. I don't go to parties anymore, so I don't have to worry about that. But here is the real reason, or at least the reason I don't tell people. I feel that deep down I am an alcoholic waiting to happen. It's not because I have a family member directly related to me who is one. Though I heard it is hereditary. It's not because I'm Italian and have grown up around wine my whole life (my Dad's been a wine manager/connoisseur since I was about 8 years old). It's not even because I picked up some bad habits from my early to mid 20's that stuck with me. No, it's none of that. It's nothing that has even happened, it's what I know would happen.
The other night I was talking to a friend, and he mentioned having a rough day at work. He said he was going to have a couple of drinks at his house. I told him that sometimes I wish I could do that. It sounded nice, relaxing at home with a drink to knock off the edge. But that's not how it would go for me. The day before I talked to my friend I was having a rough night. Nothing specific was triggering me, but I was feeling anxious and sad. For a moment I thought about what it would be like to buy a bottle of Whiskey and drink the whole thing in one night by myself. I'm not even sure I like Whiskey, but making a White Russian is just too damn tedious when you want to quickly make the demons in your head shut up. What's scarier is no matter how drunk I've been I have never had a hang over (and yes, I am your stereotypical lightweight. Some Italian I am.) I didn't buy a bottle of Whiskey or even Green Apple Smirnoff (which was always one of my go-to's when Kahlua wasn't available.) I still have the good sense to know I'd probably be mad if I spent my money on booze.
I don't drink because I'm afraid if I decide one night to have those couple of drinks after a rough day, that one night would turn into two, then three, then a week, and so on. I'm afraid I will use those couple of drinks every time I'm having a hard time. Fuck the couple of drinks, I'll just have the bottle. The other night instead of Whiskey I took two Seroquel and an Ativan. I took it knowing my doctor told me not to take the Ativan with the Seroquel, I took it knowing it would knock me out. I didn't care, that's what I wanted. I just wanted to sleep through the night, dreamless. If I break my alcohol rule I fear drinking will become my Ativan.
It doesn't have to be booze. I have an addictive personality, it's just one I mostly manage to control. I don't buy weed not because I like mooching, but because if I did I'd be smoking every night until I passed out. It takes everything I have to continue not to cut. Because if I did, I wouldn't be able to stop. I'd be doing it every time I felt pain. Physical pain to take away the emotional. Let's face it though, alcohol is probably the cheapest and easiest vice to get.
Alcohol is easier to acquire, more accessible, and if you're good easier to hide than scars on your arm.The reality is, I'm fighting against a lot. Genetics, temptations, always being around it, and the fact the DSM explains I'm suppose to be impulsive in two areas. I guess I'm lucky that my two areas are/were sex and spending. If you want to call that lucky. The point is, despite my past, I've never had a bona-fide problem or addiction with drugs or alcohol.
But the fear is there, the fear I could become that addict. I play it out in my mind, what I'm sure would happen if I abandon my "almost-no-alcohol rule." Some may say that I am setting myself up to fail, that I'm being too negative. Maybe they are right, maybe I could be sitting next to a bottle of alcohol and have no desire to touch it. I don't want to test it, I don't want to wave the temptation in front of my face. I especially don't want to do it knowing my decision making drastically changes depending on my mood. While I may turn the other cheek to that bottle when I'm in a good mood, I can't promise the same if the demons took over.
That's why I don't drink, but that's just too complicated to explain to people. Especially in a short amount of time. So, I just stick to cost and plain ol' not being interested.
After all, I have to stay uninterested or else I'll become too interested.