Hell is sober people

Having consumed my entire life’s quota of alcohol during the first half of my adult life, I no longer drink at all. Recently, though, I had to attend a work-related reception and dinner in Montreal, and though I did not drink, I couldn’t help imagining how different the evening would have been had I done so. Here, then, is the recap of my experience in Reality vs Alternate Alcohol Universe (AAU).

Reality: Outside the city, on the bus with colleagues who are enjoying an en-route cocktail or two, I send a Snapchat to my wife: my sad face and the caption, “Stuck in traffic and sober.”
AAU: Outside the city, on the bus enjoying an en-route cocktail or two or three, I send a Snapchat to my wife: my grinning face and the caption, “Stuck in traffic, but cheers!”

Reality: We arrive to find the bar area crowded and loud, rendered almost painful by my tinnitus. I make straight for the bar to pour myself a glass of water from a series of bottles sitting there.
AAU: We arrive to find the bar area crowded and loud, and I add to it by greeting co-workers like they are fondly remembered classmates at a high school reunion. I make for the bar to submit the first instalment of the considerable investment I plan to make in alcohol that evening.

Reality: I find a far corner and stand there, nervously sipping my water. I return to the bar for a second glass and discover that some of the bottles contain carbonated water. I predict correctly that this will be the highlight of my night.
AAU: I find a corner and stand there, nervously sipping my drink. I return to the bar for a second one, after which I find a group of people to stand near, nervously sipping my drink. Because I can’t entirely hear what’s being said, I contribute to the ambient noise by laughing loudly in the appropriate places. Also: a third one.

Reality: With some relief, I see that they are no circulating hors d’œuvres. I devote myself to making solid eye contact with the servers.
AAU: I enter a lively discussion about Lebron James, even though we cut our cable in the fall and I haven’t seen a single NBA game this season. I suddenly have strong convictions about Lebron James.

Reality: By now I have checked my phone several times for emails, texts and Scrabble.
AAU: Group selfie!

Reality: I duck into the bathroom for a breather. Also: all that bubbly water.
AAU: I duck into the bathroom for a third time; all that beer.

Reality: Dinner is served. It’s assigned seating. I take my seat.
AAU: Dinner is served. It’s assigned seating. I surreptitiously switch seat tags to sit with someone I know. It’s not surreptitious at all but everyone is too polite to object.

Reality: I’m seated next to a very nice man whom I know a little and whose daughters I also know a little. We chat politely about our children while we wait for the first course.
AAU: I switch to red wine.

Reality: I realize with horror that we have run out of children to talk about and suddenly understand that this is the sole reason some people have such large families.
AAU: I enter into a loud discussion with the person seated across from me on how we are blessed to be living in what is clearly the golden age of beer. The topic somehow touches on Millennials, the decline of shopping malls and Lebron James.

Reality: I embark on deep introspection regarding my fish entrée – peering into my sole, as it were.
AAU: I embark on a quest to obtain by any means possible a second bottle of wine.

Reality: I listen politely to some speeches.
AAU: I point out to my tablemates in barely concealed whispers that the dollop of chocolate mousse on the dessert plate looks exactly like the smiling poop emoji.

Reality: After the meal, I find an empty chair in the reception area and wait for the return bus ride home.
AAU: Sorry; things get a little blurry at this point.

Reality: On the bus, I isolate myself with earbuds and my book to tune out the boisterous reveling in the back of the bus.
AAU: I’m in the back of the bus, singing a bawdy version of “I’m Too Sexy for My Shirt” that is not nearly as hilarious as I think it is.

Reality: I wake up in the morning with regret that I couldn’t be more sociable without the crutch of alcohol.
AAU: Regret.


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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25 Responses to Hell is sober people

  1. pinklightsabre says:

    There’s always the switching to red wine, kind of like a water slide down a twisting chute.

  2. Having met my lifetime’s quota of booze, smokes, and one-night stands by the time I hit 30, I’ve gone completely straight. Now I am no fun at all, hate every social situation ever, and apparently don’t know how to dance.

  3. No drinking and tinnitus? That’s uncomfortable. As an introvert I have never been into bars, big parties or those voluminous conference dinners, so I think I understand a little about being sober while all the party animals are doing their best jungle impression. I’ll have a drink, but I’m also the one wanting to get out of there as soon as possible – which has sometimes lead to me being the DD for the ones who are ready to pass out by the time dessert comes around.

  4. I guess the untried experiment is when everyone is sober.

  5. Have you considered Scottish-Canadian Conversion Therapy? They send you to Costa Rica or Mexico, where they teach folks to be sociable. To be honest, I was sent home from the first camp I attended, SocialShockTreatment.edu, just too extreme (for crying out loud, there was no warning in their brochure about hugging), so my first course of treatment may be something in between, like New Zealand, and then at the weekly meetings, you can work toward your Gregarious badge, and keep going all the way to Convivial.

  6. ksbeth says:

    like you, the majority of my drinking happened earlier in my life, but my reality now is one or two beers or wines, talk to someone i know, grab a few apps, look around at stuff for a short amount of time, smile and think about how long until i can pull off a secret irish goodbye and get home and into my pajamas. it’s hard to keep up with my frenzied pace, i know –

  7. I didn’t know you had tinnitus. Have you mentioned that before? I don’t really pay close attention, as I’m sure you’ve already surmised. This post provides an excellent rational for never going out of the house. I don’t mind activities with my bride but otherwise, I find it all painful. I don’t seem to have anything in common with anyone anymore.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Speak up, sonny! I may have mentioned it. I don’t pay close attention either. It’s gotten worse in recent years, probably due to my refusal to stop wearing earbuds. The devil rock and roll!
      Now I see why you like theatre: an outing with no chit-chatting for large chunks of it.

  8. This is why I’m an unofficial “hermit” now. (actually I’ve always been one and I’m totally fine with that.)

  9. kirizar says:

    Peering soberly into one’s sole is a reasonable alternative to socializing. Unlike contemplating your ever expanding halibut or bemoaning the lack of any decent cod in the dating pool. Overly fishy exploits are hazards to be eschewed.

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