Over the past few months, I’ve developed some allergies that have led me to have some pretty severe dietary restrictions.
It’s been a wild ride. In addition to eliminating most of the best-tasting parts of the food pyramid just in time for the holidays, it has left me unable to enjoy two particular food groups.
My doctor has told me to exclude coffee and booze from my diet.
It’s been like stepping into a different dimension.
I never realized how much every social interaction hinged on those two things until now, especially in Squamish where playing hard is often followed up with drinking equally hard.
Asking someone out for coffee or suggesting we catch up over a drink, has been replaced with ‘wanna eat a plant-based meal?’
It just doesn’t quite have the same appeal to it.
Social gatherings or parties have also become a little different. The first hour or two is usually fine, but during the life-cycle of every party, there’s a certain point when you begin to realize just how sober you are in comparison to everyone (completely!) and just how not sober everyone else is.
At the first party I went to completely sober, at the 10:30 to 11:00 p.m. mark, conversations had certainly become a little more, uh, simple.
One person was entertaining our group by biting on a zip tie and pulling it through her teeth. If I had a few drinks in me, this would’ve seemed like a perfectly reasonable form of communication.
Instead, I was just reminded of how very sober I was (completely!) compared with everyone else. Live music and dancing have also definitely lost much of its enjoyableness. You begin to notice how obnoxiously loud everything is and how strangely everyone is moving.
In addition to being awkward, sometimes sobriety can be a faux pas. Many people are offended when you turn down a drink. Booze, I have come to realize, is more than a drink. It’s a symbol of goodwill, and when you refuse a beer, people think you’re not just rejecting the beverage, but them as a person. It’s fascinating.
When it’s not busy being a source of offence, it’s also sometimes a source of stigma.
People often assume there’s something deeply wrong with you.
Refusing a beer can often paint you as an addict or someone just inherently weak and emasculated.
It requires a whole new way to navigate social situations.
I have friends who’ve had to stop drinking for one reason or another. I knew it was hard, but this certainly gives me a new level of respect for those who turn away a glass.
For those taking on the holidays sober, I salute you! And come join me for a hearty plant-based meal!