On May 13th, I published this status on Facebook:
On May 18th, this was published in the Guardian:
On May 13th, I published this status on Facebook:
On May 18th, this was published in the Guardian:
Really? “The worst idea ever?”…
The worst? Ever?! Really?
Worse that the war in Iraq or the referendum on Brexit or Donald Trump or any leader elected by the French since Mitterand left?
Really? It’s worse than that?
The hack: Ask for a glass of alcohol and don’t drink it.
Sounds too good to be true, I know. Hear me out.
This is one the biggest problem when one does not drink alcohol like I do:
“Man, another killjoy who doesn’t want to take part! What’s all the fuss about again?! Why can’t you just drink what we all drink?
-I was asked and I just say ‘water’…
-Well, here is a beer and shut up, you buzz-kill!”
I do drink but only on very special occasions like a glass of champagne for Christmas but having an obsessive personality, I know that if I start drinking for pleasure, I will never be able to stop. I have enough problems as it is with binge eating.
So when asked what I want, I do say water and the hosts, probably, feeling they are failing at…hosting go ballistic.
“Really? Not some wine? Come one, just a glass? No? What about a beer? Even less?! Why? What do you mean? You don’t like beer?…Really?…I don’t think it’s vulgar to drink beer, you know. Look, my friend’s a very nice person. She is in money too and she likes a beer. That doesn’t make her vulgar, does it? What, you sure?! Just water? I only have tab water, you know. It’s fine…really? You really sure? Okay, then…It’s your life after all!”
Sounds familiar to non-drinkers?
And that was just the answer to “Do you want anything to drink?” two minutes after you arrived…There is then a whole evening or whatever when people are constantly asking you if you are sure you don’t want a sip. “Just a sip, come on”.
Countless are the questions as to why you don’t drink, to which you don’t really answer because you know they are not genuine questions but really doors the others are waiting to blow up, cracks they are trying to find in the wall to “prove you wrong” on whatever reasons you have to not drink.
I want to point out clearly that to this moment, you have not done anything wrong. You have not lost your cool and told anyone to “Back off, it’s just some fucking water! Deal with it!”
You haven’t brought up the only-water-drinking topic yourself and you avoid talking about it altogether, frankly. You have just asked for a glass of water which is the least costly thing provided that evening. Mostly you have never pointed out to all the others downing bottles after bottles that not only are you not making any comments on the copious amount of poison they are drinking and how annoying they are getting because of it, but you also have not tried to convince them to live the way you do. You are not here to preach the healthy-living and you never will. You just drink water.
Yet, the worst part is to come: the toast. You raise your glass and everyone is looking at the content of it like it’s more important than the person who is toasted or their speech. No, what matters is that you faked it. A real toast is with alcohol. Toasting with water is like showing up to a party with a Weight Watchers casserole – That, I do disapprove of! Get a proper cake! I don’t drink but I do eat.
Then you are branded various names from “the non-drinker” to “the killjoy” because God knows only alcohol makes anything interesting.
In the face of it, you have three types of people:
-The ones who understand and don’t mind, they always have a bottle of water ready for you. They are respectful and nice, and don’t make a fuss about it. They don’t draw attention to it, just serve you and say with a smile “So what, you don’t drink…More for us.” Yes, thank you! But that’s the very minority and they don’t have a special name for you, just your actual name.
-The ones who like to label you the ‘non-drinker’ and think it’s funny to ask every-freaking-time what you are drinking. They are hoping they will, one day, get you to crack and will be the first to hear you ask for some alcohol. They are the peer-pressure ones. The more they will ask, the more chances you will eventually give up and give in. This is the reasoning behind it and the nickname that clearly dissociates you from the rest of the group but “in a nice way.”
-Finally, the Type-III people to fear like diabetes, are the beer-pressures ones. The bullies, the idiots, the ones who…nevermind. In a nutshell, they think you don’t belong because you don’t drink and there is nothing “funny” in their way. “Nope, can’t sit there unless you have a drink. A real one…” I always leave then but I am a horse’s arse. Unfortunately, not everyone has my stubbornness and my absolute disregard for what such people think of me.
So my mother, who never drinks and tends to dislike, as I do, fruit juices from the shops because they are indeed very sugary, has comes up with a hack for non-drinkers to be left alone: ask for a drink but just don’t drink it, she explains. People don’t really pay attention unless a glass is empty or not filled with what they expect at a certain time, in that case: alcohol. Just fill up a glass with alcohol, keep it close and people will leave you alone.
God, the length we have to reach to be left in peace with just some water! Not just that but I was very dubious of the reasoning. It sounded good on paper but the reality is always quite different. Until a couple of days ago when I went to a friend’s birthday. She is the second type of people aforementioned and despite having actually lived with her for a couple of months, she still asks me every time if I want a drink of alcohol. She always laughs when asking. I fake laugh. Maybe I am not that much of a horse’s arse…
So the last time, I said yes and helped myself of a double whiskey. She jumped on her camera and filmed me “to show everyone that she succeeded.” Deary me, little did she know that the hack was to not drink it and I didn’t. It stayed in front of me, untouched for the whole evening and my mother was right, once I had that glass poured and set when I sat, all was well. I toasted “properly” and everytime people were looking, I had a glass of whiskey ready to be drunk. Nothing to report.
It truly works, it’s amazing! People are genuinely leaving you in peace and all you have to do is use that glass full of alcohol everytime needed without drinking a drop of it.
Now, nothing is full-proof of course, and you can still encounter some situations where the Type-III persons, the beer-pressures, are going to be a pain in the arse:
1. “But you have not drunk any of it”. Assure them that you did. Which is why it is essential to not ask for a glass of wine or a beer in the first place but rather a very strong alcohol like a double whiskey, double vodka or any liqueur would do as long as you can easily justify the “slower-drinking” of it. If they force you to prove you are drinking it, then thou shall finally snap and tell them off as you see fit.
2. The thirst. You are not drinking the glass so you will indeed get thirsty and eventually ask for some water anyway. There will be reactions to your wanting water when you have not yet finished your drink. Fear no more and just point out that you don’t really fare well with alcohol so the water is to prevent the hang-over the next day. It is proven that eating and drinking water while consuming alcohol are helping the decrease the risk of hang-over as the body can draw fluids and function thanks to various sources. Not just poison from fermented sugar.
As I said, it seems far-fetched to just be left in peace when wanting to only water but it does make your life much easier and more pleasant during social events.
My family is somehow a perfect image of today’s society. Everyone smokes except me, my mother and one of my cousin. The others smoke like firemen in training and that’s about 20 of them during family reunions, chain-smoking, the joy!
Well in my family and in society, in general, smoking, drinking and taking drugs are increasingly talked about and frowned upon but as a matter of public health, rarely as a matter of gregarious living. They still have a fairly high status of recognition for reasons I am mentioning below and try to complain about the smoking, drinking of drug taking of someone next to you and you will see the reaction: aggression because these drugs are taken mainly to relax and have fun. Stress = I need a cigarette and fun = Let’s have a drink. The recreational drugs…well the name speaks for itself.
Some will say something but it will require a strong personality as you will have to smile through the usual abuse of being “politically correct”, a “lefty”, “a kill-joy”, a “fascist”, a “Nazi” and within a minute a torrent of abuse will have put you in the same bag as vegetarians who are all “little Hitlers” who “want to force the whole world to live the same boring, funless life as theirs”. I am merely quoting.
In a capitalist society where work is necessary but abusive at best, it is therefore hated so there is some kind of entitlement when it comes to relaxing and hobbies: It’s my freedom to have fun so I am allowed to do whatever I like.
Unless it’s food.
When you dare to eat something between meals or have another serve of food, have two cupcakes instead of one, refuse to share a biscuit…Then you have to put up with a full investigation, which leads to the usual endless lecture from the smokers and drinkers about healthy eating. They will shows their flat stomach (with a grey smile and beaten nails), blow smoke in your face and tell you about the virtuous eating habits they managed to live by.
The unsolicited life-advice is nothing next to the usual patronising sneers that comes with it: “What are you doing? Why are you eating again? You are not really hungry, aren’t you? Are you in a hurry? No, because you were sucking up the food so fast, I thought you had a train to catch. You’re not hungry, you’re just greedy. It’s all about self-control, you know! Do you want to be fat and ugly all your life? Look at us, we’re very healthy, not an ounce of fat. No wonder you’re tired. No wonder you have headaches.” Sure, nothing to do with me working 14 hours/day and with my eyes stuck on two computers or my drunk roommate shouting all night…
It does not matter whether your smoke and force everybody to do the same. Ha, the lovely smell of cigarette smoke flirting with your nostrils as you are eating, the taste of tar it leaves on your pallet and the lovely perfume that runs deep in your clothes for the rest of day. It does not matter whether you drown your heart and brain in liquor up to the point of unspeakable rudeness, sexual insanity, undignified violence and bestiality because it’s only true way to relax and you deserve to relax after such a work week! And drugs…it does matter but two days ago, my mother was trying to convince my grandmother that she should try a joint at least once before she died because that’s fun, isn’t it?
All that drinking, smoking and taking drugs is comparably acceptable because they destroy you from the inside: blackening your lungs, eating you liver, melting your insides but you keep your good looks (longer than with binge eating at least) and that’s what matters, that’s how you judge how healthy is someone and so does my family. I am in the unhealthy one because I am obese. How many models eat cigarettes for lunch? It doesn’t matter because they’re skinny. Wow, look at that actor and that body, so rip, so healthy, and we find out he drinks and smokes…Who cares? Look at that six-pack!
I’ve never smoked, I have not drunk for year (I don’t need it, I don’t have any inhibitions to loosen) and the closest I have been to drugs was staying in a room where my brother was smoking a joint 10 years ago. No praise for this, just bad looks.
In England: “What?! You don’t drink? Are you a Muslim?” No, one needn’t be a Muslim to not drink! The idea that my non-drinking can only be because of an interdiction, not good will.
In France: ” You don’t drink wine?! You’re not a real French then…”
I always say I have enough issues at it is since my drug is food and it shows because I am obese. My weakness is eating and my love of cheese and cakes make me the perfect candidate for the inquisition on Fat and Sugar, the Devil Couple. Therefore I should eat my greens quietly and listening to the lectures of smoking and drinking people because they are here to help me, the thin people with grey skin under the Saint-Tropez tan. Here to help the poor, sick, fatty me out of the hands of Satan.
Also when it comes to drug, one had to sell the poison at some point so looks, image, symbolism and representation are everything. My great-aunt once said to me I should start smoking because it would make me look more handsome. She said having a cigarette help you socialise and holding one helps you never look like you are just standing there. My grand-father pushed my grand-mother to smoke because he thinks women are sexier when they smoke.
These people were born between 1930 and 1940 and they grew up with the images of American movie stars smoking, suave and languidly with sleepy eyes or soldiers strong and powerful holding cigarettes between battles. These people will tell you right now how ridiculous this forbidding of such pictures is but they did work. My ancestors’ brains are full of these pictures and ideas that smoking will make you ultimately attractive. Today, all kinds of poison-based drugs are cool, risk-taking, law-breaking, rule-pushing, sexy. If I don’t drink it’s because “I am social awkward”. It’s the bad boy effect, James Dean with a cigarette not with a doughnut!
Secondly, there is the acceptance of smoking, drinking and drugs as…well drugs! Everyone, but some daft gits here and there, is accepting the fact that they contain poison that are addictive and people who consume them have no problem admitting it because it’s part of the excuse: “I can’t stop, I am addicted, you don’t understand!”. I do! Because I have an addiction: food but it is met with the usual sneer that food is not addictive, it’s just me lacking the will to control myself. “It’s all about self-control”, again.
I used to argue back: “You can stop smoking from one day to another, end the temptation. It is hard but you needn’t smoke, or drink alcohol or take drugs to survive whereas you need to eat to survive so I can’t just stop eating, I have to relearn how to eat properly and that’s harder because temptation is always here. Where you need a cigarette you have the choice between smoking or not, when I need to eat I have the choice between making a salad or cutting some cheese….Guess what I am going for.”
However, there is no point, these people do not want to hear it. It goes against their views of them as victims of terrible drugs against which they cannot possibly fight when I am just a victim of myself and should grow up. It reminds me too much of secondary school to go lengthy on it.
It brings to the final point. My family then – although strongly dominated and ran by women, is like society where patriarchy and its ideas of real and fake suffering do not seem to die away. There is real, suffering, “man” problems that involves “real” cancer from the poison of drinking and smoking, poison you have to take to remain hard man with the “real” sickness from the excess of life and the “real” bleeding from the wound of hard work or war. In Southern Europe, most still consider that a woman who drinks is not sexy because she does a “man thing”.
There are opposed to the “fake” problems of women and “sissy boys”. In France, how many times have I heard “Encore un truc de bonne femme!” – Yet another chick thing? Migraines, headaches, psychological troubles and diseases, heartaches, sadness, depression, melancholy, mania and addictions to something that does not poison the body (“truly addictive” science says). All of these diseases are always the core of eating disorders and are still “women problems”, excuses not to take responsibility, stupid reasons to get out of work and awful sex with bad husbands. They are not taken seriously and therefore are not discussed fairly.
It is changing of course but I am fat because “I am choosing to be”, I am making deliberate decisions everyday to let temptation win over me and give in to the easy run of life of gain without pain. So when I do feel peckish at 3pm and have some food, regardless of what it is, I should stop and inhale the smoke of my next of kin who is telling me off. But I don’t because I am very arsy, strong-minded person who likes to go against that kind of nonsense so I go and take the whole packet of biscuits instead of just one.