“Can I buy you a drink?”
“Uh…no thanks…I’m fine for now.”
“Oh come on, just one drink?”
“Um, I’m not trying to blow you off. I don’t drink.”
“So…let me get this straight. You’ve never had a drink? EVER!?!”
“Are you sure?”
“I mean…I can’t be definitely sure because there’s always that chance someone spiked the Coke, but yeah, I’ve never intentionally consumed alcohol.”
“That’s weird. And cool. But seriously, I have so much respect for you.”
This conversation represents the interesting turn of events I encountered every time a guy tried to pick me up in college. An offer to imbibe would be made. I would demurely deflect. An intense conversation about the philosophy of drinking would ensue.
Towards the end of my undergraduate career, a yawn or two would also accompany these proceedings. Usually by the end of the conversation, the guy would either forget why he was talking to me or realize that I wasn’t remotely intoxicated, and therefore, would not make the mistake of going home with him.
I don’t have the data to back this up, but I’m pretty sure that if you ever played a word association game where college was on a card, many, if not most, would say beer. It’s entered into our collective conscience that college is a time for hard liquor, keg stands, Beirut tournaments, flip-cup, and body shots. Even the quiet ones in high school succumb to their inner alc monster in college, where even they end up dancing on tables and yakking a la Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You.
But, there is a strong, yet silent minority who manage to avoid the liquor and still play hard. They usually fall into 3 categories—the religious, the allergic, and the indifferent. Of course, 4 years is a long time and by the end of it, some of them fall off the bandwagon. Some become less religious. The indifferent become indifferent about being indifferent towards alcohol. Only the allergic ever stay the course. Yet, every university every year graduates a significant minority of teetotalers, some of whose drinking habits went by unnoticed.
Personally, I decided against drinking partly for religious reasons and partly because I’ve never had any desire to consume alcohol. People always ask me how can I stand being at parties where everyone is schwasted. To be honest, soberly seeing all of the stupid things drunk people is both incredibly amusing and also a complete turnoff. I never want to be in a situation in which I’m not in full and total control over my actions. Plus, I can’t stand the smell of alcohol.
My freshman year was pretty unconventional by contemporary standards. I went to a few parties, but it wasn’t like I was showing up to Friday classes in sunglasses nursing a massive hangover. Mostly, I hung out with a solid group of people who either didn’t drink at all or drank very little. Even as we all changed throughout college, some drinking a lot more or some giving it up altogether, those people remained my greatest friends. But, the issue was that I was missing out on meeting a whole variety of people because I was afraid of being the only non-drinker at the party. Looking back, one of my biggest regrets is not going to more parties in my freshman year and being genuinely worried that I would have nothing in common with a drinker.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I started to learn the tricks of the trade. I started hanging out with one of my good friends from high school, who was also a non-drinker at my college. He taught me the art of Passing college-style. The general rule of thumb is to always have a Solo cup in your hand and to always have it filled. Coke usually can pass for a Rum and Coke. I’ve had amazing success faking a Screwdriver with a cup of orange juice. One time, I even managed to pass off a cup of water as pure Vodka, but that also involved a Russian accent, a fake story about my time in the KGB, and a fairly drunk lacrosse player. Since turning 21 (the age I can legally enter a bar), I’ve had to contend with mostly transparent glasses, and so I’ve made the switch to ordering ginger ale and non-alcoholic mojitos (no-jitos). Also, know your alcohol facts: What does I.P.A. stand for; How much should a forty-rack of ‘Gansett cost; How do you do a Dirty Mexican.
It may seem foolish and insecure to want to pass as a drinker, but quite frankly, I do not think that I owe an explanation of my sobriety to every single person I meet at a party. Passing allows me to select and choose who I want to entrust with this personal information, and it also gives me the opportunity to get to know people, without the awkwardness of that drinker vs. non-drinker tension. As a result, some of my closest friends today are raging alcoholics, whom I know underneath that foamy veneer are awesome people.
After my sophomore year, I don’t think I really missed out on the “normal” college social scene. Yes, there was the occasional hater who made an unnecessarily big deal about my alc-free lifestyle, but for the most part, people were genuinely understanding and accepting. Aside from graduating with a B.A., I left college as a filthy Riut player with decent flip-cup skills who had experience all of the euphoria and embarrassment that comes from a solid game of Kings—all without ever getting a hangover.
Category: Drinks and Jungle Juice