My life as a wuss

So here’s the deal: I’ve become a wuss. Although I believe to be way too young for this. Let me explain:

Die Feuerzangenbowle (1944 film)

Germans even made a whole film about booze! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

About 18 months ago, I somehow lost the taste for alcohol. And it has nothing to do with conviction or principles or whatnot, I just don’t like it that much anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the taste of a good wine or champagne, but a sip is generally enough. It hasn’t always been like that, believe me. My father who has Eastern block roots and probably grew up with vodka instead of milk, always claims, “Never trust a man who doesn’t drink.” Same goes for women. That’s what emancipation does for you. Growing up, those were high stakes. Luckily, I spent my adolescence in Germany, and alcohol belongs to our culture just as much as sausages and sauerkraut. Since I like neither sausages nor sauerkraut, what else was there to do for me than to focus on alcohol? And it’s easy in Germany. You get to drink beer and wine as of the age of 16, and once you turn 18, there are no limits.

I remember my first bottle of white wine. I was at my friend’s house, and her parents had a marvelous wine cellar with high ceilings and torches and lots of dust. One day, it was our task to clean all those expensive wine bottles, and since we got thirsty, we opened one. It tasted like heaven! After the first glass, of course, we were already tipsy. After the second glass, I was rolling around on the floor. My dad would have been so proud!

Anyhow. Working in the hotel industry and later on, as a flight attendant included a lot of partying, a lot of drinks, a lot of hangovers. Of course, I got more sensible over time, but I still liked the feeling of getting tipsy (not drunk, just tipsy). Everything starts to sparkle then and becomes so much more exciting. But then something must have changed. When somebody pours me a glass of wine today, I hardly ever finish it. On rare occasions when I may have two glasses, I feel totally hungover the next morning. So I avoid drinking alcohol and only do it on special occasions – after all, I can’t bring shame on our family!

But I have noticed how big a role alcohol plays in our social lives. When somebody suggests to meet for drinks, you can be pretty sure that water is not considered a drink. And it is true, standing at a bar with a glass of water does feel strange and somehow meaningless. You would think that you normally go out with friends because of the conversations, but the truth is, that drinks play a vital role and without drinks, it is only half the fun.

Going out for dinner is easier, then you at least share the food, and people tend to drink less over dinner than at a bar. And somehow, you feel you have no right to be at a bar where the main purpose is to get people drunk. When you only go for water, then people eye you suspiciously. Either you have to be a recovering alcoholic, pregnant, or simply weird. In any case, you just outed yourself as a party pooper. So you order a glass of wine AND a glass of water, take an alibi sip from your wine and stick with water afterwards – the more your drinking fellows drink, the less likely it becomes for them to notice. But one thing is for certain, going out is only half the fun, for staying sober while everybody else is getting drunk is downright cruel.

Here’s the proof: At that age, we had tremendous fun without drinking.

You see their eyes glazing over, their movements becoming a little clumsy, and their speech getting more and more slurred. And oh, the importance with which they talk about profanities! Everything becomes deep and meaningful, every joke is hilarious, and people normally indifferent to one another, suddenly declare how important this wonderful, wonderful friendship is to them. So glad we met! So glad we talked!

There are three different kinds of drunks: The giggly ones, the melancholic ones, and the aggressive ones. So simple conversations might end in hugging, tears or fights, but hopefully, by the next morning, everything will be forgotten. By everybody but by the sober by-stander. When I witness those heartwarming scenes, I keep thinking to myself, “This used to be me!”

I sometimes wish I would go back to liking alcohol again, since it was so much easier to be part of this, instead staying sober means you just remain an outsider watching this whole unpredictable drama unfolding. The only comfort I have is that the next morning, I am the one bright-eyed and bushy-tailed… and therefore the one, who serves the breakfast. And the moral of the story? Always listen to your dad!


9 thoughts on “My life as a wuss

  1. A German who doesn’t like Sauerkraut and Sausages. I’m not alone!! 🙂 We should form a support group.
    [PS. principal(s) = Schuldiretor(en) oder eine sonstige Autoritätsperson; principles = Prinzipien. (Ich war mal Korrekturleser. Ich kann nix dafür.)]

      • I’ve only just got used to beer – since moving to Spain! I hated it before. …and I’m Bavarian…
        I don’t see my own typos either. E.g. break for brake – I do it every time. Sigh.

  2. Another thoughtful and insightful post! So true. I also find that I “enjoy” alcohol so much less as I’ve aged. But I do love a glass or two of wine or the bubbly, though it goes straight to my head and I’ve become “a cheap date” now… which is fine. I totally agree, the thought of getting completely pissed sounds so… unappealing these days. I think as we age, we aim towards what you call “tipsy” and I call “the happy place” and to stay in that zone for as long as possible without tipping over into the “room-is-spinning-I-need-to-puke place.” We become more comfortable with ourselves and are more talkative and relaxed.

    And you’re totally right that being the only sober one is torture when everyone else is roaring drunk. I’m not looking forward to attending all the Christmas parties next month with lots of alcohol and where everyone else is tipsy except me. I guess it might be fun to go in with a naturalist’s perspective and to pretend that you are narrating the entire evening as a nature show to yourself in a David Attenborough voice to get yourself through it.

    But I think it might also be this alien thing called… maturity (ick!) and the older and wiser bit. Everything in moderation, no?

    • Oh, I love the David Attenborough idea! Will try that next time, I am sure it will make an evening so much more entertaining!
      Thanks for reading, and good luck with all those xmas parties…! 😉

  3. Interesting! I quit drinking without even thinking about it after dating an aggressive drunk. Somehow, he took all the fun out of it for me. Luckily, my husband has never been interested in the activity. But, I know what you meant about missing when it still seemed fun!

    • Thank you for sharing! Yikes, those aggressive drunks are mean! I can understand how that would make one quit drinking completely.
      I was surprised to see that there are actually people whom you can only tolerate while you are drinking… 😉

  4. Oh I know exactly what you mean! I recently went on a major detox and the funny thing is that coffee has been so much easier to give up due to the social aspect. Drinking is just what so many people do, and for a long time, it’s what I have done.

    I have noticed that fewer hangovers free up my time for other things now.

    • Yes, that is another advantage of not drinking, you are right!
      I also gave up coffee, so I stick with tea. Tea is so much more accepted than water, though!
      Thanks for sharing, Laura!

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