On unabashedly saying no to booze

As I get older, my tolerance for BS has shrunk to near negligible levels. I just don’t have the time or energy for the things I don’t have time or energy for. You only get one lifetime – one in which the days seem to roll on by ever faster – and I’m not going to play along on matters of convention just because.

Alcohol is such a founding pillar of both social and work culture, and I’ll admit, I used to drink just to fit in. But I’ve largely called it quits.

Color Martini: "Maya's drink (at Tokyo Go...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I hate beer and wine – and that’s usually all that’s ever available at work dos. Occasionally I’ll indulge in, and enjoy, a spirit or a liqueur among friends. But as a rule I generally don’t enjoy booze very much. I had my few years of drinking on weekends, and my fair share of flushed, tipsy photos snapped in the process … and I’m well and truly over it.

Alcohol is expensive. And I’m a cheapskate. Even at events where booze is flowing freely, I unashamedly abstain. At one particularly tedious evening some time ago, mixers were on offer from the dedicated bartenders, and I thought I’d try to drink to pass the time. A couple of sips in and I called it quits. Lesson learned. (Sorry, I have no qualms about wasting booze.)

Drunk me is not the best me. One drink – max two – and I’m gone. I’ll probably fall asleep within the hour. If I’m driving (which is also rare), it’s best not to touch a drop. Plus I get the dreaded Asian deep red flush – it’s a full body thing for me. Not attractive; extremely embarrassing.

And you know what? It’s not as strange or awkward as I anticipated.

At one industry awards dinner, I refused both the red and white wine as the bottles were offered around. A little while later, my boss simply said, “You don’t drink wine, do you? We might swipe your glass” and passed it on to someone else who was apparently juggling two kinds of vino.

At a bar meetup with a group of strangers (and one person I’d met once before), I ordered a plain orange juice. “You’re on the hard stuff!” one joked, and didn’t say any more on the matter.

Occasionally I break ranks. I succumbed to nervous drinking at a lunch function not so long ago, surrounded by chefs, food writers and other hospo types. I couldn’t feel the champagne flush, but sure enough, when I ducked into the bathroom I looked well and truly sunburned. And as it was a four-course meal with a different matched wine with each dish, I tried a few sips of each – figuring it was a rare chance I should seize. (SO. MUCH. WASTE. And is it a prerequisite to love wine in order to earn your ‘foodie’ stripes or what?) Takeaway: I still hate wine, even good wine, and even wines chosen to complement amazing food.

It’s funny how alcohol and caffeine are our sanctioned drugs of choice. But maybe we’re becoming more accepting of people who don’t partake. I’d like to think so, anyway. With evermore complex dietary requirements becoming commonplace (I swear every third person I come across is either vegan or gluten-free), perhaps we’re becoming less judgemental about whatever others put – or don’t put – into their bodies.

(This post was partly inspired by Clare and Cait.)

17 thoughts on “On unabashedly saying no to booze

  • Reply Leslie Beslie (@lintacious) November 8, 2012 at 02:24

    I have found this so common that when talking to someone new I will say something like, “Are you free for drinks (hot or cold) on Friday?”

  • Reply Jane November 8, 2012 at 04:21

    I have pretty much given up alcohol. I like beer and wine, but drinking makes it harder for me to be the person I want to be. I suppose I’ll still do a glass of champagne on New Years, and maybe a glass of wine on our anniversary, but I really don’t care to drink anymore.

    Caffeine, on the other hand… Well, I wish I could quit that. I don’t think it’ll ever happen.

  • Reply Budget & the Beach November 8, 2012 at 05:29

    I like beer and wine, but rarely drink anything else. I’ve never been a big drinker. LIke you, two is usually my max, but I really like the taste of a nice glass of wine, or a craft beer. I’m not sure I could or would ever give it up entirely-as long as it’s a good relationship. 🙂

  • Reply Kellen November 8, 2012 at 05:48

    It would be extremely rude to press the issue, since the people asking you why you don’t drink probably don’t know if they’re going into dangerous territory, like you having to explain that you’re an alcoholic like one of my coworkers does.
    I don’t drink because I just don’t like it, and it makes me feel ill, but I always feel self concious about it, and like the people who are drinking resent it. I do think it’s easier if I sell it as a “healthy lifestyle” thing, or some sort of odd diet, since that seems to be a fairly common thing people do.

  • Reply Linda November 8, 2012 at 05:52

    One of my best friends refers jokingly to her having “the Asian drinking gene” issue, too. She can only handle a maximum of two drinks before she is completely hammered. (Her father is Chinese via the Philippines, and her mother is from an eastern European background. Maybe her mom’s genetic heritage has helped keep the “flush” at bay, at least.) It’s certainly more widely accepted here in the U.S. that not everyone is up for alcohol at events.

    I’m not much of a hard liquor drinker at events, but I love beer and wine. I am picky about beer, though. If the only beer available is the U.S. major brewery swill I will not drink it. I’m a bit less picky about wine, but there have been some I’ve tried that I have declined to finish the glass or bottle. (If I’m at home I’ll usually add these to the compost pile, since they get it really active!)

  • Reply plantingourpennies November 8, 2012 at 06:49

    I almost never drink, but if it’s free at an event I’ll get a glass to hold or have in front of my plate so as to not stick out. I just hate the way I feel after drinking, and all the “rebel cred” that once accompanied drinking disappeared when I turned 21, so I see no point to it for me.

  • Reply makeupandmirtazapine November 8, 2012 at 08:28

    I used to drink regularly, and I have to admit, I was very partial to a well chosen wine to accompany a meal. I stopped mainly due to medical reasons, and wish I’d had your experience when others noticed that I wasn’t drinking. It seems that every time I meet someone new they’re aghast at the thought of my being tee-total.

  • Reply Kara E November 8, 2012 at 09:54

    I hate beer and wine, so I usually drink vodka mixed with whatever. But really, I’m kind of “over” getting drunk to the point of nonsense. And since having my baby, I haven’t had more than two weak drinks. I don’t miss booze whatsoever, but I don’t think I’ll cut myself off completely.

    (And I hear you on the awkward Asian red-facedness!)

  • Reply Mo' Money Mo' Houses (@momoneymohouses) November 8, 2012 at 10:51

    I used to be the girl that loved free booze flowing at work events or other social events, well I still do, who doesn’t love free, but if I know it’s with work people or there are important people there, I usually stick to one or two drinks and that’s it.

  • Reply Stephany (@stephanywrites) November 8, 2012 at 13:56

    I have come to the same conclusion lately. I don’t really have to deal with it in professional settings, but sometimes it’s just that feeling that I “should” because it’s Friday night and I’m out to dinner – why not?! Honestly, I just don’t really like the taste of alcohol and it’s a little silly to feel pressure to drink something we don’t like! Yay for us. 🙂

    Your new layout is so cute. I love it!

  • Reply Anonymous November 8, 2012 at 19:11

    Booze = cancer. That’s a scientific fact.

  • Reply Shawanda November 9, 2012 at 11:52

    I’m a wine lover, but I’m no connoisseur, which is why I limit my vino to the cheapest of the cheap stuff. A few days ago, I stumbled upon a $5 box of wine. That’s the equivalent of 6.5 bottles. You do the math. Lately, I’ve had a reduced desire to drink. I’m not sure what it is, but my changing preferences may have a lot to do with the fact that alcohol makes you feel like crap, and it adds a ton of empty calories to your diet. As I get older, I have to be more conscious of what I put in my mouth. The weight doesn’t come off as easily as it used to.

  • Reply » Busy, Busy With a Focus Group and A Spattering of Updates November 10, 2012 at 04:13

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  • Reply mochiandmacarons November 11, 2012 at 12:15

    I turn so red, I become a lobster (am allergic).

    I don’t drink alcohol outside of the home mainly for that vain reason, but also because I get sleepy and really warm, so I want to nap like.. NOW.

    I don’t really like the taste of any alcohol either, unless it’s sugary sweet which defeats the point. BF drinks my half and he’s thrilled.

  • Reply theoutliermodel November 17, 2012 at 08:16

    We enjoy both beer and wine (after all, Brian works in a wine store part time!) But many of our friends do not. I don’t think it’s a hindrance to social outings at all. For me, when I’m planning events, I try to choose places that have good food in addition to drinks.

  • Reply Bullshit-free bride: Curating the guest list | NZ Muse November 28, 2012 at 23:01

    […] Also, I’ve hinted at this before, but we were planning on a dry wedding. Not dry as in weather-wise (this is Auckland, and this will be Auckland in autumn) but alcohol-free. Neither of us are big drinkers, and I most definitely will not be drinking on the day – even if I wanted to, vanity alone would stop me. […]

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