Saturday, October 6, 2007

If I'd been a drinker...

I sometimes wonder how life would have turned out if I'd been a drinker. As a non-drinker I spent much of my teenage years and early adulthood being the observer rather than the participator which is a topic I've touched on many times before. I missed out on the social relaxation that alcohol seems to induce - of course I missed out on the sore heads, vomiting and drunken brawls that it sometimes leads to as well.

Still I was often appreciated as the designated driver amongst friends and certainly amongst my copper work colleagues before such a thing became the norm. In those early days in the police force, however, when there was a hard working, hard drinking, hard playing culture, it took a little time to gain the trust of some colleagues as a non-drinker. There was an innate suspicion of someone who didn't embrace the culture and maybe that observer status made me seem a little aloof or perhaps a little too straight and narrow for some people. Often when introduced to people and asked if I wanted a drink I'd say that I was a non-drinker and be treated with a look of incredulity. Just as often I'd find myself written off as someone not worthy to talk to thus reinforcing, in my mind anyway, that feeling of separateness. So it often took me a little longer to fit into groups and made me reluctant to put myself into those situations. If the boys went out for a night of drinking and playing, I'd usually try and find an excuse not to go.

Not sure how the culture is in other countries but over here in a pub situation it is considered normal to be part of a drinking school. That means everyone in the group will buy a round of drinks and if you didn't you'd end p being labelled as someone who woldn't shout if a shark bit him or as someone whio kept their hands in their pockets meaning you were too frugal or lousy to shout someone a drink. So I learn that it was better for me to make sure I bought the first round. That way I could sit on my coke whilst everyone else got slowly shitfaced on beer because, let's face it, there's only so much Coke you can drink. There'd be that familiar look of disdain if when in a drinking school you said that you'd have a coke instead of a beer, so I'd use the old joke about having used to snort Coke but I didn't like the bubbles getting up my nose, which worked as a bit of a tension breaker.

I wrote a couple of posts ago about son number 1 being down from Canberra and bemoaned the fact that I likely would not see much of him. Most people said that I shouldn't worry about that just try and understand that he'd be pretty busy catching up with his mates. And I do understand that, it's just that I wonder if I'd been a drinker whether or not I'd also have been invited to the pub for a few drinks with him or not. I also wonder whether my own relationship with my Dad would have been different too.

15 comments:

Pen and the Sword said...

I do drink, but very very little and not too often in public. I did something bad to my liver when I was 20 and so I have a glass of wine and I am totally inebriated! I kind of know how you feel here. I have one small drink and it's time to drink water for the rest of the night. In order to keep the waitresses happy I would often tip them for bringing me water. Sounds silly, but if you aren't buying drinks, you might not get to have another glass of water for a while in the bars here in Minnesota, USA :o)

I'm sorry you are missing your son tonight, Loz. Just give it some time.

Loz said...

I know I sound a bit like a broken record here and I truly don't mean to but writing it down helps me to pt things into context. I hope I don't end up being too boring with it all. Thnaks for the comment :)

Pen and the Sword said...

Not boring at all ;o) I love reading your blogs.

angus said...

This is a really interesting point you've made, and you got me thinking of the teenage world, and the amount of subtle pressure that is applied to underage drinking.
cheers,
angus

Josie Two Shoes said...

Definitely not boring, Loz. I hear the longing in your heart for a closer relationship with your children, to be a more active part of their lives. I often have that same wistful feeling... what if I had done everything different? It's something we won't ever know. My guess is that you chose not to drink for a reason, as I most often now do (though at one time im my life I drank heavily). Sometimes that does put us on the outside, but I still think we are the smarter ones for abstaining. I've seen too much of the damage that alcohol does to lives and families. I know for myself, that even when drinking I still feel somewhat isolated from the crowd, that's just who and how I am.

Loz said...

Angus - I don't think there is any more pressure these days than when I was growing up. I do believe that the kids these days, at least amongst my kids circles, are far more responsible when it comes to drinking and driving than my generation was. They always nominate a designated driver.

Loz said...

Josie - not drinking has had a huge impact on who I am, for good and bad. The wotifs of course are the things we can never answer but in considering them perhaps we can come to understand ourselves better. And that quest for understanding is why I write.

Gypsy said...

This is obviously something that bothers you a lot Loz and you should blog about it if it helps you sort it out in your own mind.

Unfortunately for you, Aussies by and large, are great drinkers. I don't necessarily think that is something to trumpet from the roof tops but it is nonetheless a fact.

I admire you for not buckling under the pressure you must have had to endure at times. For the past 15 years I have only drunk alcohol in moderation but it was quite a different story before that, regrettably.

You saw what it did to your dad and the effects it had on you and your family. You have my respect for trying to do it differently.

simonsays said...

I am a new reader, but I will be back---and you do pose an interesting question. Finding common ground with our kids can be a problem. For me, it's easy....as long as I hand over the cash...just a joke, sort of. :)

Loz said...

Gypsy - there was pressure but I wasn't really aware of it being an issue for me. It was simply a path I'd chosen pretty early on in life and became normal for me. It was only an issue for people who didn't know me or who met me for the first time, friends just accepted it.

Loz said...

Welcome Jamie [simonsays] and I want to ask how you chose your nic. Thanks for the comment and I know exactly what you mean about handing over the money :)

Pam said...

I'm one of those who has been right in the thick of things when it comes to drinking. I won't say I'm a party girl, but ... : ). But I've noticed that as I get older, sometimes I still feel like being in the middle of the rowdy crew with a beer in my hand, but just as often I don't. I have a newfound awe and appreciation for those who can sit in the pub in and drink soda and still relate to the beer-soaked conversations (I don't think I could). I also more than ever value and relate to those friends who would rather just go have a coffee and sit outside somewhere, or take a walk or see a movie or something.

Loz said...

Hi Pam - I don't think I'm a total prude. I have spent many a night watching friends and colleagues get totally sozzled. But I am one who would prefer a walk on the beach or a quiet coffee to a nightclub.

Ms. Q said...

I would say that there is a drinker/non drinker type of separation and being a drinker is usually helpful in social situations! I live in the US and I didn't start drinking until my mid-20s and even then, not much. I was probably considered a bit "straight-laced" but it probably didn't bother people much as I did appear pretty conservative.

What had been odd is that in my 30s I began drinking more and it's interesting how more open people feel knowing you drink. I had no idea of this until I became a drinker and went out with someone who didn't drink.

Suddenly I was on the "drinking side" and I felt uncomfortable. Now, I enjoy a glass of wine with dinner and that's pretty much it these days! Most of my friends are the same.

In trying to understand my reaction, I think that there's some shame involved - alcohol does affect your brain and your inhibitions! It does have a bit of an "illicit" feel to it.

Anyway, that's my view on what I think may be going on with this social dynamic!

Dorothy said...

Loz, good luck with your son. Sometimes they need time away from their parents as they ponder their futures. It really has nothing to do with anything, other then whats going on within themselves. Just let them know if they need you, your there. I've gone through this a few times with my daughter...and have watched
my friends with their children as well.
Regarding drinking, it's never good..if we never drank a drop of alcohol. it would be a good thing.
Alcohol is mind altering and not good for your health. My marine grandson is going through a stage where he drinks too much and we are working on having him not need to drink to have a good time....
It's not easy and we won't give up.

Dorothy from grammology
call your grandma
http://grammology.com