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.