Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, August 29, 2022


Van Gogh, The Drinkers, 1890

We are settling in to being only a five-child household. There is a several-week gap between the the oldest ones leaving the house and the third getting her drivers' license, which takes me back to a level of chauffeuring I haven't practiced since 2019. Biology class for two kids, community college for one, religious ed for three, park time for the youngest. It makes me tired, but not tired enough to drink.

It seems a strange and almost shameful confession, but here goes: I don't drink.

Here's an even stranger confession: I don't even like alcohol.

It seems like it's socially acceptable not to drink if you have a problem liking alcohol too much. Or if you're pregnant. Or, naturally, if you're driving. There is, however, the tedious assumption that if you are a woman, your day is structured around the moment when you can imbibe wine by the glass, by the bottle, by the floral box. There is a box of wine in my house, for adding to spaghetti sauce. I don't even sip the dregs of the cup I pour in the saucepan. The stuff makes my face turn red -- not a maidenly blush, but a blotchy Rudolf shine. 

I don't have any bad drinking memories to point to. I've never had a hangover, since I've never been drunk. I have been buzzed, and I don't care for it much. It's not exhilarating to be freed from inhibitions. I like being socially graceful, and I like my internal editor. And it's not necessarily fun to be around people who've been freed from these constraints. I also -- and this is key -- don't like the taste of alcohol. Not beefy reds, not hard seltzers. Maybe a good white wine, but I can count on one hand how many times I've had a sublime glass, and those rare vintages had a price tag to match. I don't like it enough to pay for it.

Don't tell me about your awesome margaritas or Manhattans. There is one person in the world who mixes drinks to my taste, and that's Darwin. That's because the amount of alcohol he puts in mine is negligible. I know better now than to order a gin and tonic out, because what comes to the table is a big alcohol bomb. 

It's not that I can't or won't drink. It's that it usually isn't worth it. It's a strange club to be in, alongside the other social misfits who don't like things that everyone is supposed to love, like chocolate or bacon. (For the record, I do like those things.) I've made my peace with checking NEVER on those doctors' forms that ask how often you have alcohol. It's not strictly true, but it's much much more true than "I have an occasional drink," the next option.

I rather wish I liked wine more. So many people seem to think it's terrific. Even Jesus drank more than I do. The wine column in the paper reads to me much like the car column: an anthropological glimpse into a culture I can't inhabit. But when I'm confronted with a glass, a few sips are enough to confirm what I always feel: meh. 


Matthew Lickona said...
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Agnes said...

You show me another American cultural trend that hasn't penetrated in my country yet, thank God. The idea that it is trendy/normalized/expected that women, mothers in particular, drink wine frequently/daily and that it is the primary source of stress relief (if I understand correctly the women/wine idea you refer to)... is rather weird (and completely objectionable) to me. It seems that making the legal age for alcohol drinking higher than legal age of majority in other aspects doesn't have a beneficial effect on responsible alcohol drinking habits.
On the other hand, not drinking alcohol should not be something to apologize for, even half-jesting (I'm sure you aren't really serious about regretting your own behaviour but I can't see your tone as completely humorous). Jesus may have drunk more than you do, but he never did it for stress relief, because he had enough of putting up with his disciples. That sort of thing is completely wrong.

Bob the Ape said...

I'm the same way myself. Alcohol has too powerful a taste for me to enjoy it. And, like you, I wish I could appreciate wine.
It may well be the gift of God that I don't like to drink; given my personality, I might well have become an alcoholic.

I've only been drunk, or at least highly buzzed, once: some days before I got married my father and brothers took me out for a (decorous) bachelor evening that wound up at a bar one of my brothers owned. The experience was quite tame: I talked more than usual, but didn't misbehave, or lose coordination; I wasn't even hung over the next day.

I've never felt any social pressure to drink; but then, I don't feel social pressure at all and never have. This is not a virtue; it is a handicap, like being blind or deaf, and led to a great deal of awkwardness (to say the least) when I was younger, until I learned to keep my eccentricities to myself.