May 30th, 2015

More proof that neo-neocon is no fun at all: on being a non-drinker

[NOTE: The following post is a repeat of a post from 2008. I was reminded of it when I was writing the post right below this one.]


I don’t drink.

Oh, I can take a sip or two of almost any alcoholic beverage—sometimes even three or four sips on an especially wild night. And I enjoy them, as many of my friends and dinner companions have discovered. But then something mysterious happens and I simply cannot drink any more.

Back when I was in college I drank with the best of them and the worst of them, but only at parties. I was never anything but a social drinker. But in school the parties come often and the drinking opportunities were relentless.

I was renowned for my ability to drink anyone under the table. Vodka was my drink of choice, probably a sign of things to come had I known anything about drinking—which I didn’t—because vodka is nearly tasteless and featureless and was a clue that I didn’t really like the taste of alcohol all that much to begin with.

I drank to impress with my boldness. I drank to cover up my shyness. I drank out of boredom. I drank because it made the parties more fun. I drank because I smoked at the time and the two looked really cool together.

Just a few times I drank till I got sick and had a nasty hangover the next day. I never drank till I passed out, although once—at a party where the liquor was mixed into some sort of hideous-tasting-and-looking drink/punch that was rumored to contain grain alcohol and was served from a huge vat into which someone fell during the course of the evening—I drank only about half a glass but still lost all visual memories of the event, although I retained a clear recollection of what had been said and what people had done.

And then one day I found I couldn’t drink any more. I say “one day,” but it wasn’t a single moment. The knowledge came on over a period of a few months when I realized I simply had lost the desire to swill the stuff down anymore.

It puzzled me. But in the end I grew to accept it, much as I later grew to accept that chocolate gave me such migraines that I couldn’t eat it any more. I had loved chocolate, though, and I’d never loved alcohol. It was just something I used to do and didn’t care to do again

It’s mostly a non-issue now, although it has the advantage of offering my friends a lot of potential for teasing me. Sometimes people who don’t know me think it means I’m an alcoholic in recovery. Sometimes people think it means I’m a teetotaler or that I disapprove of people having a good time; I’m not and I most definitely don’t.

Years ago when I was going through a divorce, I did something you’re not supposed to do: I moved to a place where almost no one knew me. And it soon became winter, snowy and cold, with darkness falling in the mid-afternoon. I decided it was high time to begin to drink again.

People drink to forget their troubles, and forgetting my troubles was just fine with me. I started with wine. Got a bottle of a nice white—I had some vague notion that red might give me headaches, although I’d never had enough to find out—and poured it into a pretty wineglass. Then I sat down and took a sip. And then another sip, and another.

And then it became difficult; very very difficult. I forced myself to take a couple more sips, but I found that that was it. My body and mind said “no more.”

It wasn’t exactly a shout, but it was very firm “no” nevertheless. I didn’t have the sort of feeling you get at a buffet after eating way too much and just can’t stuff another forkful of food into your gullet. No, I knew I had not indulged to excess, and that theoretically I could continue without any problem. I didn’t feel the least bit sick. But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, and I hadn’t a clue why.

I tried changing libations. Amaretto was tasty, but a mere tablespoonful seemed to shut off any desire to imbibe more. I tried changing chairs. I tried standing. I tried putting music on, and I tried TV as an accompaniment.

And then I gave up and stopped trying, and decided to reconcile myself to the fact that I would have to go through that particular experience fully conscious and fully experiencing whatever it was I was meant to experience. Which is probably a good thing.

[ADDENDUM: More beverage eccentricities of mine.]

30 Responses to “More proof that neo-neocon is no fun at all: on being a non-drinker”

  1. Sam L. Says:

    Since my first wife died, I’ve had little to drink. I had some Scotch last year or the year before in honor of the repeal of Prohibition, and a beer goes down nicely, but only if I’m not driving, and I usually am. Don’t recall my last beer. Have had a little wine this month.

    I don’t go out and party, nor often to one that has booze available, except for a new Year’s brunch.

  2. Steve Says:

    You’re not missing much. Drinking creates more problems than it solves.

  3. parker Says:

    Red wine and a good local beer in the summer time… yes, we have excellent brews in Iowa. Never had a taste for the hard stuff, although I will admit to wine over indulgence from time to time in the darkness of winter when the madness of humanity darkens my spirit. But I have never drank to such excess I had a need to spew. We, each and everyone of us is our master, some are not fit to master even themselves.

  4. Molly NH Says:

    Consider Gov Cuomo’s companion Sandra Lee, she recently had breast cancer surgery. One of the (odd, I
    thought) features of her Food network Show was to include a cocktail concoction at the end of *every single program*. I thought this was so weird. I remember thinking, what kind of people does this woman know or even she herself to be so *in to* making drinks!
    It was really over the top ! So perhaps it was a habit she had. I believe I even saw bottled ready made cocktails (sans Liquor) with her name on the stuff.
    I guess she has paid the price & there is indeed a proven association with alcohol consumption & increased incidence of breast cancer. So neo looks like you are saving yourself some potential grief by forgoing the stuff. Never a consistent drinker myself, wine with dinner occasionally. Forget those Sandra Lee cocktails altogether. Food network ought to edit *them* out of her shows, very irresponsible to encourage that to the viewers.

  5. clarityseeker Says:

    neoneocon writes:

    “…on an especially wild night.”

    {somewhat heartened by this open admission, clarity walks away resolute in the thought that everything will be just fine in the world}

  6. clarityseeker Says:

    parker writes:

    “But I have never drank to such excess I had a need to spew.”

    I have been visiting a vile website recently.
    In navigating my way around, “Mediaite”, I have witnessed so much SPEW, I’ve been compelled to DRINK.

  7. NeoConScum Says:

    Wonderful country song by a Girl Country Singer entitled: Tequila Makes My Clothes Fall Off.

    …think I may have known her. Just sayin’…

  8. Al Says:

    one Tequila,two Tequila,three Tequila: FLOOR!

  9. Doom Says:

    I wish I had your curse, not mine. I, too, can enjoy a sip, two, three, even four. Sometimes that is it. But on a blue moon, almost no liquor cabinet or keg is enough. At least I don’t get sick (though that might not be bad) and my hangovers are mild, if I happen to get one. A case and fifths, not a few extra drinks over some line. I drill for oil. Though, since I don’t get into any real trouble… I still would prefer yours. It’s cheaper. :p

  10. Elliott Says:

    I have never been a drinker. Like you I tried it a little in college but didn’t like feeling buzzed. And I was raised a Southern Baptist and my parents and grandparents didn’t drink either and we don’t care if others do. I can’t dance either. But I can sing.

  11. Mr. Frank Says:

    Beer is proof that God loves us.

    You can’t be a country without a beer.

  12. Mac Says:

    Neo, that is a very sad situation. I myself am blessed with an avid taste for all sorts of alcoholic beverages, and a vivid enjoyment of being a little buzzed, but very little inclination to go beyond that. I really enjoy two drinks; three is questionable, and more than three is usually a mistake–aside from any other potential consequences, I’m no longer really enjoying it.

    I remind myself sometimes of Clarence, in It’s A Wonderful Life, in the bar talking about a rum punch and how much he would enjoy it. I think I get more pleasure out of one Sweetwater 420 than most people do out of a six-pack of Bud.

  13. Mr. Frank Says:

    Hi Mac,

    Does anybody enjoy Bud?

    Until the micro breweries, American beer was very ordinary.

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    Just as you do not care to put yourself under the power of Authority, Neo, so your body has acclimated itself to an internal drive which does not allow external forces to take away the will of the body/mind connection. Any disruptions to it, endangers the control of the self, for the self, by the self.

  15. Doom Says:

    Mr. Frank,

    I only drink Bud. And, yes, I enjoy it. I don’t want mud water, or ultra filtered mud water, or this or that. Beyond the cost, I just don’t enjoy. Budweiser is simple. And, yes, I like that. Beer, food, and wine snobs make me cringe. More so when evidence shows… there isn’t anything to be all that snobbish about. Wine testers, for example, have been shown to be outright fools. But, it sells. Rarity is desired, so the costs keeps some form of… what… exclusivity? Yeah. But it isn’t better. I guess if you have the money to toss down the drain, or someone else is buying, do as you please. I’ll stick with Bud. Even that might be pretentious, but other beers tend to give me more of a headache, even up front while sipping or sloshing. So… it’s not just that Bud is better than Bush or Pabst (though all are patently better than Coors, minimally by flavor). And no light. That’s just sad.

  16. Philip Says:

    Neo, do you have a favorite fruit juice? I wonder if one were to subtract the alcohol from wine, for example, is that what the remainder would taste like?

    Actually, that’s an odd thought: there is alcohol-free beer in the world; is there such a thing as alcohol-free wine?

  17. Patrick Says:

    I think I recognize self-deprecating humor when I see it, but just in case not: Anyone who thinks you’re no fun has not been listening to you. Pay such people no mind. As far as I’m concerned, you’re a lock for an invitation to those fantasy dinner parties that Dick Cavett (I think) used to talk about.

  18. Mac Says:

    Mr. Frank–“Does anybody enjoy Bud?”

    As you say, American beer was very dull before the appearance of craft beers. Their existence is one of the compensations of living through the waning days of the U.S.A. Personally I like beer with a really strong taste, so that puts almost any big-name commercial beer low on my list. But a few months ago I had a couple of Buds because it was the dollar draft special and enjoyed it more than I expected.

    Doom, nobody with active taste buds could fail to tell the difference between Bud and Sweetwater 420 or similar brew. Which one you like is a matter of taste–my wife can’t stand any IPA-type beer (“India Pal Ale”, very sharp and bitter), of which 420 is one. But there’s very definitely a difference.

  19. neo-neocon Says:


    I hate to break it to you, but I don’t like fruit juice. You’d be surprised at how many beverages I dislike.

    And yet I like most foods. Go figure.

  20. Artfldgr Says:

    Even Sir Paul has given up pot… so? old people dont party as much as young stupid people… next thesis…

  21. Ymarsakar Says:

    And yet I like most foods. Go figure.

    Not milk.

  22. neo-neocon Says:


    Milk is not a food.

    It’s a secretion 🙂 .

  23. Lea Says:


    I had a coworker once who told me that, because of so many alcoholics in his family, he had inherited an inability to get drunk unless he drank enough to practically kill him. So he didn’t drink for that reason.

    I went through many a cocktail throughout college and after, but now I seldom have more than a glass or two of wine or beer. But I enjoy the taste of both. An occasional margarita or whiskey/coke as well.

    But I grew up with a mother and grandparents and assorted family members who never drink and we don’t have alcohol at most family functions so if I don’t drink for weeks or months it doesn’t seem strange at all. I am mostly a social drinker.

  24. neo-neocon Says:


    No alcoholism in my family, either.

    I barely even knew any alcoholics when I was growing up.

  25. NeoConScum Says:

    Serious drinkers(I’ve been retired from that category for nearly 28-yrs)refer to New Years Eve as, “Amateur Night”. An innocent whisky lover can get killed out there!!

  26. Ymarsakar Says:

    You should run a study about how many kids grow up to hate bitter stuff vs how many who hated it but had to submit to authority in eating it, and how they all came out in terms of pro or anti Authority later in life.

  27. Josh Says:

    Yes, NA wine does exist. Some of it is even drinkable. But I have yet to see really good one.

  28. Steve57 Says:

    Josh said:

    “Yes, NA wine does exist. Some of it is even drinkable. But I have yet to see really good one.”

    NA wine doesn’t have to be good.

    It’s highest and best use is for christening ships.

  29. Steve57 Says:

    Mr. Frank said:

    “Hi Mac,

    Does anybody enjoy Bud?

    Until the micro breweries, American beer was very ordinary.”

    Bud isn’t so much ordinary as a child of prohibition. It’s Al Capone beer. American beer was more interesting before prohibition, but once prohibition set in any beer would do. And Bud was definitely any beer. People grew up with it, so they like it.

    You see the same thing in Japan. Sake can actually be a very refined product. But during the war years refinement went out the window. People who grew up on the stuff like a big boozy sake.

    It’s not traditional, just like Al Capone beer isn’t. But it works.

  30. Kurt Says:

    I am not much of a drinker; usually it is about one drink a week on the weekend (if that frequently, I don’t have much alcohol in the house), sometimes two–one Friday and one Saturday. I’ve never been much of a drinker, but these days I rarely have more than one drink because I really feel it the next day, even if I only have one. I don’t get hungover or anything, I just feel much more tired and have lower energy and all of that. I’ve mentioned it to people who think I’m imagining it or making it up, but I’m aware of how it makes me feel later on, so I mostly choose to avoid it.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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