A Teetotaler’s Take (and yes, the spelling’s correct)

(Here’s the famed cranberry spritzer with lemon slice atop a pretty glass.)

It’s about 10 years now since I’ve had an alcoholic drink, and in that regard, I’m unusual. Why? Being a non-drinker of alcohol is just not the norm. For instance, whenever my husband and I go to a social event at someone’s home, I generally bring a flask containing my own concoction: It’s cranberry juice and club soda (aka a cranberry spritzer.) Oh, I’m not being rude (by foregoing their offerings); it’s just I’ve learned the choices will be Coke, Pepsi, or Sprite, and I don‘t particularly like any of those. They just don’t speak “party” to me.

I try to be subtle about it. I arrive, generally holding a small thermos under wraps; I go to the kitchen and pour my own drink; then, I come out and join the group where someone invariably asks, “What’s that?” (hoping it might be something they’ll like, too).

When I answer, “A cranberry spritzer,” they follow it up with “What’s in it?” By this point, my subtle maneuvering has taken on center-stage proportions.” But when I mention “Just cranberry juice and club soda,” I see them almost visibly slump, as they silently ponder: “What? No alcohol? “

I’m sure, too, that it goes to a new level, inwardly: “Why doesn’t she drink alcohol?”

It’s not that I’m a prude, for at one time in my life, I drank alcohol. Basically, I was a white wine kind of woman, and I hardly ever veered from that. Oh, once in a while, on a special occasion, I’d have a martini or two (three reduced me to utter oblivion) or a margarita, if it were summer and I wanted to “Go Calypso.”

It just got to a point in my life I determined to give it up, for it had become a nightly ritual, and I basically reasoned: “This probably isn‘t good for me.”

When I gave it up, I discovered some new things about myself: I had way more energy and my outlook on life brightened (yes, I know alcohol‘s a depressant). This revelation was especially mind-boggling, for I‘d borne depression and negativity my whole life and life crises kept me there. Slowly, my perspective changed and I began to focus on the positive.

But abstaining from alcohol as lifestyle doesn’t mean I live easily.

When one’s a teetotaler, she notes bizarre aspects concerning the alcohol-imbibing world.

1. To many folks, Party = Alcohol, and the terms are synonymous throughout much of the world. That means: Most celebratory events are awash in it.

2. When party-goers drink, they generally want EVERYONE drinking, and if one doesn’t, she’s almost regarded with suspicion, as if she’s the snitch in the group or worse yet, a wet blanket who’ll make others uncomfortable.

3. All-Inclusive Trips mean just that (even your underage kid will drink): Years ago, when I took my young daughter on an all-inclusive trip to Margarita (off the coast of Venezuela), the limo dropped us and our bags in front a the reception area, where they immediately foist rum punches at us (she was 10!).

I grabbed her drink to check, and sure enough, the vapor alone could have knocked her out.. I ran interference that whole week as the ever-obliging staff continued to offer her drinks that were clearly “adult.” If I got annoyed, they begged off with “No comprende.”

4. There are few exciting non-alcoholic drinks offered (that’s why you may want to make your own). But, I always note the smorgasbord of alcohol-laced choices of every ilk. At the above-mentioned resorts, mini bars pop up all over the grounds inviting vacationers to test the potent creations given out to anyone with the appropriate wristband. You don’t need money–just stamina and high tolerance.

I saw one woman once who didn’t have either. She slumped into the pool from the half-submerged bar stool to which she’d been attached most of the afternoon. They pulled her out and carried her off. It wasn’t pretty.

Of the non-alcoholic stations (there were 2), both were unexciting, as if admitting: “OK, we know we have to offer this, but we do it grudgingly.“ A deftly-positioned paper umbrella affixed to the top of a boring concoction is supposed to satisfy, while this teetotaler wants multiple juice offerings of mango, papaya, pineapple, churned up in a blender, with coconut milk. Just because I don’t drink alcohol doesn’t mean I’ve lost my taste buds. Quite the contrary: They’ve sharpened.

5. When one is a teetotaler, she’s considered a sort of freak, as folks ponder whether you’re on medication that prohibits, or if you’re a member of a religious sect (and it must be a cult, if it disallows) or worse yet, “You’re an alcoholic.”

If you’re a teetotaler, tell us your proven methods of navigating “sober” in a world of the suds or the bubbly. Cheers!

***P.S.. Biddy’s happy to announce she’s just joined Yahoo Contributor Network. Check out her new material at Favorite Sites, over to the right…Just click on the link and enjoy….This Wednesday, I focus on the Italian American Writer, Ed Iannuccilli, from Providence, and tune in on Friday when I talk about my “almost-death” on a lake in Minnesota…

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A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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