August 28th, 2011
As part of my macrobiotic experiment, I have eliminated alcohol from my diet for at least a month. It has been 28 days since I last consumed alcohol. My last drink was consumed in a live Jazz bar in New Orleans, so no one can claim I did not give alcohol a proper send off.
Giving up alcohol was effortless both physically and mentally. I only drank on the weekends when I was still drinking, and after one weekend of not drinking I felt great. I was able to get up at a reasonable time on Saturday and Sunday morning, I wasn’t hungover, and overall I was more productive during the day than I would have been otherwise. I decided I liked this plan. What I didn’t take into account were the social ramifications of not drinking.
So much of American culture seems to include drinking. After work we have happy hour, on the weekends we go to bars, or have parties at a friends house that include drinking. And it’s worse in a small town. If your only options are the movies, bowling, going to a party or going to the bars, it’s more likely that your activity will involve alcohol. And with a primarily 20-something crowd your likelihood turns into a near certainty.
Sober Drinking Games
It’s not that there is a great deal of pressure to drink if you don’t want to, but the activities are less fun if you are sober. Anyone who has played “screw the dealer” or “ride the bus” while drinking water knows what I’m talking about.
Personally, I find that “Kings” (aka “Circle of Death” among other names) is still quite fun while sober, but the rest lose their appeal. And if you are playing “Kings” with the unopened beer can in the middle, where you have to stick your card under the tab and the first person to pop the can has to chug it, you have a dilemma. Do you not play because you won’t chug the beer — which wouldn’t be in accordance with the rules? Or do you play and have a designated drinker drink in your stead? And what if no one wants to be your designated drinker (because who wants to chug Keystone Light)?
Being Sober at the Bars
What’s even worse than playing sober drinking games is being sober at the bars. It’s amazing how much less fun the bars are when you’re not drinking. They are crowded with drunk people or people in that transient state between drunk and sober (along with the occasional other sober person). I find crowds to be annoying and uncomfortable. I don’t like being bumped into or pushed out of the way by other people, and bars tend to enable this behavior.
Bars are loud. A symptom of the people density and the loud dance/party music is that it is hard to hold a conversation. Small hole-in-the-wall bars or pubs are better for intimate conversations with a friend.
However, bars can be fun while sober if there is a good band playing. Good live music is always a good time. At one of the bars we went to Friday night, there was a fairly good cover band playing which was enjoyable until I was nearly stepped on by a drunk guy.
Drunk People Watching
One of the incentives of going out on the town while remaining sober is drunk people watching. However, it’s usually more depressing than hilarious. People losing their inhibition and all but having sex on a dance floor is less than appealing (seen at the concert on Friday). And seeing someone passed out in front of the public library because they are too drunk to walk is not only depressing but frightening (seen while walking around 11 pm on Saturday. The police came shortly after, closely followed by an ambulance).
Sometimes drunk people can make your day. One of my favorite things is some bathroom art in one of the Bloomington bars. I make sure that I use that stall whenever possible.
I’ve noticed that I feel much older when I remain sober. It is hard to relate to those who are drinking when you’re in control of you faculties. Even if you’re just moderately sober (still coherent, not buzzed) it is hard to communicate with someone who is mostly or completely wasted. They tend to ask the same question over and over again, and not hear or listen to your answer (or not remember it if they are really gone).
So when I’m having a conversation with a drunk person I feel like I can’t relate to them. And being at a bar unable to relate to my peers makes me feel like I’m old. Aren’t 23-year-olds supposed to have a great time at the bars? And if it’s not any fun when I’m sober, why go at all?
It seems that I don’t enjoy going to bars. Something I have to be in a chemically altered state to enjoy is probably not something I want to be doing. I’m discovering that I’m much more of a one on one, intimate conversation kind of person. I will put up with crowds and the din of hundreds of people talking at once for good music, but in general, bars are not my scene.
2 am Snack: Organic crimini mushrooms and organic sun-dried tomato hummus from Bloomingfoods (it was on Saturday so it was after the rice fast day, technically)
Breakfast: None (I woke up at 1 pm)
Lunch: Red curry with brown rice and a berry smoothie with soy milk, apple juice and berries at Roots
Snack: Organic peach
Dinner: Organic yellow squash, organic carrots, white bean dip and roasted red pepper hummus from Bloomingfoods
Feelings to Note
Slight cramping after dinner. I didn’t chew the squash as well as I should have which could be the cause. There is also the possibility that the white bean dip is the cause.
Walking around downtown Bloomington