Will Call: You can lead me to alcohol, but you can’t make me drink
It will likely come as a shock to most people that know me that I celebrated Dandelion Day by starting a small batch of dandelion wine. After all, state law limits home brews to private consumption, and a half gallon of 10 percent booze probably represents more alcohol than I’ve consumed in my lifetime.
I think it’s mostly the appeal of the imagery in Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine,” an unsurpassed summer read that describes using “the smallest tingling sip” to “change the season in your veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in.”
The alcohol is secondary to literary appeal and the chance to create something out of what would otherwise be discarded.
My point is, I have nothing against alcohol in principle. This bears saying because often when I turn down a drink or a party invitation, people take offense. They might be willing to accept it from a recovering alcoholic or someone with a religious restriction, but not a random 25-year-old.
After all, drinking is a big part of how people — particularly 20-somethings — socialize. We’re on the cusp of several months of constant events, most of which are not regarded as complete without a liquor license. First Fridays in Carbondale, once art focused, have become more of a bar crawl. I could certainly participate without imbibing myself, but as the designated driver often discovers, that’s less fun that you might think. Besides, it’s generally counterproductive to try making friends doing something you don’t enjoy.
I don’t mind so much when my friends break out a couple of six-packs on a camping trip, but the bar scene isn’t really designed for sober enjoyment.
So why don’t I just lighten up and buy a drink? Well, sometimes I do. For the sake of new or old friends, I’ve tried various beers, wines and harder stuff. I’ve also tried nursing something nonalcoholic, which generally tastes better anyway. I realize you have to learn to appreciate the taste of alcohol. If you want to develop a palate for fine wine or local brews, that makes sense.
If you like the feeling of being buzzed or drunk, it presumably happens naturally, but I find myself loopy enough under the effects of sleep deprivation without adding alcohol to the mix. It just seems like a waste of time and money if I won’t enjoy it.
Many of the same things apply to marijuana, but despite state stereotypes it’s not nearly as socially pervasive outside of Red Rocks or certain local alleys. For the most part, people understand if you don’t smoke pot.
Similarly, if I meet someone for coffee and order tea instead, nobody seems to mind.
Alcohol, however, is a part of how we meet, celebrate and cope. To reject it is, on some level, a rejection of our culture. The backlash is more than peer pressure; it comes from all ages and demographics. It’s backed by advertising and event planning and the simple fear of being alone. Ironically, I had more luck finding friends who didn’t drink or smoke at CU Boulder than I have back at home — probably a function of sheer numbers.
The fact that I still leave my glass half full should tell you how disinclined I am to participate. The fact that it’s half empty should tell you that I don’t mean any offense.
Yes, I have some real concerns about the role of alcohol in our society. It seems to be an element in a lot of serious crimes. It contributed to the demise of several of my ancestors on both sides.
Most people, though, drink in moderation or do no more harm than waking me up at 2 a.m. by howling outside my window. People seem to enjoy it, and prohibition proved there’s no sense trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. I’ll look forward to a few drops of summer on the coldest day of winter, and otherwise stick with Roy Rogers and Martinelli’s. Maybe, over time, I’ll find others who feel the same way.
Will Grandbois will happily participate in a water drinking contest. He can be reached at 384-9105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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