Friday, 13 January 2012

In which I'm not drinking

Christmas chez Blonde is always a boozy affair. Dinner comes with white, red and dessert wines followed by port and coffee laced with a large dose of brandy. There’s always a drink beforehand, whether it’s gin and tonic or champagne. There’s champagne at midday, and mulled wine permanently on the go, and more often than not, several rounds of cocktails. Not so bad, you think, but when those rounds of cocktails start with margaritas served (in tall glasses. Hic) well before lunch (because why wouldn’t you want tequila at 11am?), it can all add up.

So, with a week spent at the parents’ full of the aforementioned, a few days at Blonde Towers drinking champagne with The Writer, Christmas lunches with journalists, Christmas parties with colleagues, a boozy lunch with TW’s mum and a New Year’s party full of more prosecco than is entirely good for anyone, I came to the end of December feeling decidedly pickled.

And so, stepping into virgin territory, I decided I would attempt a dry January. Before anyone says it: I know, I know: there’s no real point as far as health benefits go, and I’d be much better off having a couple of dry days a week (which often happens anyway, for what it’s worth) – blah, blah, blah. That’s not why I’m doing it: I’m doing it because the thought of anything alcoholic, be it the inside of a boozy choc or a full-blown double Tanqueray 10, makes me feel decidedly queasy.

It almost goes without saying that the announcement was met by laughs aplenty. The Redhead practically keeled over with giggles, and TW looked at me with as much cynicism as I’ve ever seen a man muster underneath a single raised eyebrow. But despite the disparagement of the nearest and dearest, I’ve stuck to my guns and have, at time of writing, not let an alcoholic drop past my lips since the last glass of fizz in the new year’s smallest hours.

And, boy is it hard.

It’s not particularly that I miss the booze – I found myself quite fancying a decent G&T after work on Friday, but the notion soon passed, and it’s not really cropped up since. In fact, quite the opposite: it’s been a relief not to drink anything alcoholic, the thought of which still isn’t vastly appealing.

Instead, it’s the reactions of other people who’re making the thing a bit of a challenge. Whilst I wholeheartedly expected the – admittedly entirely fair – mocking from friends, I didn’t expect to be judged so severely by people whose place isn’t to mock or belittle my lifestyle choices.

Last week, I went to the final Christmas party of the 2011 season. Whilst before Christmas, I’d have been knocking back the booze with the best of them, this time, I wasn’t.

“Why aren’t you drinking?” “I’m disappointed in you.” “Blonde, you’re letting the side down.” “Oh go on, stop being so boring.”

If I were pregnant (which I’m absolutely not. That I know of…) or on a course of antibiotics, it would be acceptable not to want to get blind drunk. Just not wanting to drink is, apparently, not.

Why do we put so much pressure on people who choose not to drink? There isn’t the same feeling about those who don’t smoke or shoot up at the table. Admittedly I’ve been known to look askance at those who don’t drink tea (you can’t be a true Brit if you don’t, surely?), but I don’t berate them about it, telling them they’ve “let me down”.

So, for the rest of the month, I’m going to stick to my dry guns. But I might doctor who I hang out with.


Redbookish said...

I took to drink for a year or so to deal with a very stressful job. Well, I had more than one glass of wine occasionally, and acquired a taste for very sweet alcoholic things such as Advocaat (yes, shun me now, it's quicker).

I do look forward to a gin at 7pm, but I have come to see that the drink symbolises putting down my pen, and closing my books, and stopping work for the day.

So there are other ways you can do that. Flopping on the sofa is good.

modelofamodernmajorgeneral said...

I rarely drink nowadays - to Nutty Cow's horror* - and the first couple of months were much like you describe. However, get over that hump and you become the person who doesn't drink, the same as a person who doesn't drink red or whatnot. There are probably many many PhDs in studying the British Drinking Culture, but actually people do let you get on with it. Have fun for the next 3 weeks, savour the first drink in Feb!

*In fact the last time I was properly drunk was at Nutty's old rugby club, that was emotional.

Foodycat said...

It is a strange thing, isn't it? I've sat at work functions where people have been pressuring the teetotal 7th day adventist boy to drink and I just think it is so rude!

My problem with dry days is that with most things I cook, nothing tastes as good as a glass of wine.

Mike said...

For years I always did a dry month a year, partially to know that I could....and partially for how damn good that first drink tasted a month later.

nuttycow said...

MoaMMG, I'm only horrified due to me knowing quite so much about your past :)

Blonde - good on you! I wish I had the willpower :)

Blonde said...

Red: Flopping onto a sofa is ideal, glass of wine in hand or not.

MoaMMG: I don't think I'd give it up permanently - I LOVE a glass of red wine or two, but I find the hassling utterly bizarre.

Foodycat: Well that is just rude, isn't it?! No other life choice seems to attract as much criticism.

Mike: I'm looking forward to it. I don't yet know what it'll be... Contemplating a good glass of red. Or a decent gin... Mmm.

Nutty: It's remarkably easy when you get into it. Promise!

modelofamodernmajorgeneral said...

I still drink, but I can't remember the last time I had more than a bottle of wine at a single sitting. It's generally far easier to explain that you're not drinking, and then have a slow, quiet one in peace.

Fenstar de Luxe said...

I can't drink alcohol due to health issues and boy does it get boring when people think you just SHOULD be drinking. "Just one" they plead.
It also makes you realise just how much people, in fact the majority of people, rely on alcohol to have a good time. Sad really.

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