Last night, it happened.
IT was a Dodge Ball tournament for the ages. Teams grueling it out, men morphing into animals, accountants and coal miners and hairdressers hurling rubber balls at one another for the prestigious “White Goodman” traveling trophy. Good fun was had by all, rest assured.
If you didn’t notice, there were no coolers stocked with longneck bottles. No barkeep randy to pour whiskey drinks. No coozies, no kegs, no hurricanes, no Jell-O shots, no tray of test tubes toted by an alluring, scantily-clad waitress.
Sure, there were a few dramatic moments, but by and large this Dodge Ball thing was good, clean fun.
Now look, if you’re already being presumptuous, this essay is not an assault on drinking. I’m not trying to come down on anyone who decides to drink. But I would at least like, through this piece, for you to reconsider your overall drinking mindset.
I believe one of the lies of our culture is that you have to drink to have a good time. I certainly bought into it for the lion share of my young adulthood.
Young people, you don’t have to drink to have a good time!
I am embarking on two years of complete sobriety. TWO YEARS! Hallelujah!
In those last two years, I have had more fun than I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve dressed up in costumes, danced and sang on stage, played dodge ball, gone to bars, parties, and galas (drank cranberry juice the entire time), played sports, fished, gone to the beach (swam in the ocean), did Zumba and CrossFit, did a lot of photography and a lot of writing, traveled (New Orleans, Florida, California), attended ball games and art shows, watched movies, grilled out, gone to community fundraisers and events, and laughed until I literally cried.
And not a whit of alcohol has touched my lips.
People often look at me incredulously when I tell them I don’t drink. “Like, nothing? Nothing at all?” they ask.
Not a drop.
Then, of course, I have to go into the requisite explanation of WHY.
Rarely, do I get a “Cool!” or “That’s awesome, man!” when I say I don’t drink.
I wonder why most people think it’s odd that someone doesn’t drink. It reminds me of the scene in Band of Brothers when “Wild Bill” Guarnere is questioning Lt. Winters’ toughness. Guarnere, marching through a French swamp and talking to his friend Joe Toye, says regarding Winters: “Joe, he doesn’t even drink!”
I have talked to a lot of young people in this town who claim that there’s nothing to do. And maybe they’re right. There is often little to do in a small town. So what do you do?
Drinking has become the default, the cure for boredom. When in doubt, drink.
There should be a slogan for it: Nothing else to do? Slug down a brew!
Why is drinking always the answer? Perhaps it’s because we aren’t clever enough or creative enough to think of really fun things to do. Perhaps it’s because we don’t want to get involved in things going on in our community, because that’s perceived as cheesy.
Why is drinking cool and not drinking not cool?
I want my life to demonstrate that you can have a lot of fun without alcohol. I want to demonstrate to these young kids that you don’t have to bend to the pressures of drinking for ANY reason, whether it is to look cool or just so people won’t think you’re weird.
If I can rescue one person from the treacherous path that I went down with alcohol, my life will have mattered. It will have stood for something.
Again, I’m not saying that you’re going to hell if you drink, or that it’s a sin to drink. Drinking is a personal decision, and I have simply decided that for me, it’s just not a good idea.
A life of total sobriety is what I have chosen. And only with God’s help will I continue this until I’m plugged in the ground.
You may think that sounds totally boring.
But it’s my kind of party. 78