Boos For Booze

Will Copping doesn’t drink and says we could enjoy things without the prospect of waking up a wheelie bin.

I’ve got a confession to make Brum- I don’t drink. I mean yes I drink enough fluid to stay alive but I don’t DRINK drink. To some people it’s no big deal. For an even smaller number it’s not even worth a comment. Good on those people.

But over the past two months the range of some other reactions have been hilarious. The usual first questions get all the easy bits out the way. “Are you religious?”, “are you on pills?”, “are you recovering?”, “have you got alcoholic parents?” These always draw a snort from me except the last one, which still shocks me a little bit.

Me, lovin’ a life of sobriety. Not a drop, hand on my heart.

Then comes the awkward bit of articulating that I just don’t want to in the face of those judgemental glares. Whoever I’m with just can’t let it go, interrupting their night out for an ethical debate with me. Usually it’s during pre-drinks with someone I’ll never meet again, so I’m all up for conversation rather than watching another uninspired round of Ring Of Fire.

I’m flattered really, but there’s no great difficulty in explaining why I would never get hammered. Booze greases a lot of wheels; it drowns your stress about a full week of work, it means you find more things funny, you start having Deep Meaningful Chats (DMC- yes this is a recognised acronym) with your mates and it even gives you the confidence to go after that girl/guy you’ve been chasing. In an ideal world, nothing goes wrong but sometimes it does and the risk is always there. So let’s not pretend I’m the dangerous one by going dry. Mohammed, a first year student who established a non-alcoholic alternative to freshers, puts it more simply “I have lived 24 years without drinking, I am still alive.”

Lecturers concerned with our employability take it for granted that at some point we will need to go through our Facebook walls to delete pics of us passed out. I don’t blame them. The 9am start on my course is Tuesday morning and frequently has about 20% of the seats left vacant.

Some of the ones that do turn up aren’t much better.

Let’s go back over those anecdotes. The work is a fact which hasn’t gone away over the weekend, and worse with a hangover like that you’re not in a great state to engage your brain. That thing you found funny could have been someone else getting concussion and trooping on through it.

Alcohol often brings out honesty during DMC so you may have found out something about a mate that you didn’t want to, like how much they also fancy that guy/girl you also fancy. I don’t need to go over the last one, we’ve seen enough spotted entries to know there’s all sorts of things you can regret in the morning. If you can even remember.

I’m not saying this happens to everyone every night. But it’s all stuff that could happen, and I don’t have a problem admitting that sort of risk scares me. I already sound like a bore, but in truth you could enjoy all things without the prospect of waking up a wheelie bin.

I’m into club music anyway, so you wouldn’t want to get in my way on the dancefloor. It’s just a question of applying 18 years of social skills you build during the day, not finding the answer in an 18 quid bottle. Your wallets may have noticed it’s not the cheapest pastime either.

Why even stay up that late?

So no, I haven’t experienced this complete loss of inhibition downing however many sambucas in however many seconds. I don’t need to and neither do you. This leads on to the more vexing question of why I avoid just a couple of drinks. Though many people I’ve spoken to like to get splattered, others just enjoy the taste. Fair enough. I guess the answer to this will never be satisfactory. I say enough stupid things when stone cold sober, I find it would be a little too convenient to be able to lay responsibility on the booze. If something bad or even good happened in a social situation, I would like to be able to look back and say that was down to me and nothing else.

The booze is a short-term lubrication for getting through the ordeal of meeting new people. What it points to is a laziness in sorting out how you deal with those people in the first place. The Tab‘s own Luke Terry admits that alcohol “just makes people far less boring.”

So no, it’s not a great answer. But the fact is that it doesn’t have to be. If I came up to you and said I wasn’t into crack, you’d shrug your shoulders and say “fine.” Its just another choice, and the gormless stares are getting a little tiring.

But don’t worry, the harder you try and the more you panic over someone not sharing in the experience, the easier it is for me to say no.