When I was a little bit younger, I remember that the idea of turning 21 was so excitable.
Amongst my friends and me, we patiently awaited the day that we could legally purchase and consume alcohol. The same way we anxiously waited to turn 15 ½ to get our driver’s permits. The same way we waited to turn 18. Some of my peers at my high school celebrated turning 18 by going to a 7-11 to buy cigarettes and scratchers. They didn’t use those things, but they bought it just because they now had the freedom to buy it. Silly, I know.
Movies, television and advertisements do a good job making alcohol look appealing and/or cool. Sitting around a campfire or lounging around the house with a cold beer in hand; I looked forward to doing these things with my friends, that is, drinking responsibly and socializing in a closed safe environment. Take those same pictures or moments and replace them with a glass coke bottle, and it’s not quite the same. Media is powerful.
Side note, I once had a fun conversation with my brother about smoking. The topic was, “would you smoke if there were absolutely zero consequences to it?”. With no damage to your lungs, health, teeth, body odor or fingernails, our consensus was “yes, we would”. Why? Because media makes it look so cool!
Anyways, I remember my 21st birthday. It was a cool Summer evening and my friends wanted to celebrate. We had plans to do some biking and play some spider tag, but before that, a couple of them had me stop by their house, for they wanted to make me my first drink. The anticipation and excitement, I finally get to partake in the joys of being 21. I forget the name of the concoction, but it was a spoonful of Amaretto poured carefully atop a shot glass of Bacardi Rum, lit on fire and dropped into a cup of bud light. The idea was to chug it, but not so fast that the shot glass punches you in the teeth. We cheered and counted down to drink it together. I brought the cup to my mouth and as soon as the alcohol touched my lips, I was repulsed.
I couldn’t do it. My friends finished chugging their drink and looked at me in disbelief. They kept coaxing me to finish it, but I couldn’t find anything enjoyable about it. The taste and smell were too potent. This suddenly changed my views on alcohol. I wanted nothing to do with it now.
Remember all those things you learn about peer pressure in middle school? It’s all very real. Friends, strangers, family.. It didn’t matter, everyone just wanted me to drink. I guess the idea of a young adult male that didn’t partake in alcohol was so baffling. In fact, for many gatherings, events and weddings that had alcohol, I would probably be the only male in the age range of 21-35 that was sober. That’s like Feebas rare. They would shove beer cans into my hand, to which I would kindly place back down onto the table. They would drag me into doing group shots. They would berate me. Oh the marvels of interacting with inebriated people.
Relevant Day video:
Yeah, there were instances where I would try it again. A sip here and there and I would find that it all tasted the same, disgusting. I attempted to become a wine snob, but when I thought about it, I was just trying to fit in. My friends would try to tell me that it’s not about the flavor, it’s about being drunk. To which I thought, “why would I want to be drunk?”. People have their reasoning, but as for me, I had no reason. Taste aside, seeing my friends in tipsy stupor further solidified my reasoning to avoid alcohol. Later on in college, one of my other friends would say something along the lines of:
“I don’t drink because I want to protect the few brain cells that I have. I’m not that sharp, so it’s better for me to stay as sharp as possible at all times.”
He meant it in a half-joking sense, but that kind of stuck with me. It gave me encouragement to fend off the peer pressure and confidence in knowing that I didn’t need an alcoholic drink in my hand to socialize. Besides, I probably say or do enough silly things on a regular basis, no need to do more under some influence.
So, that’s why I don’t drink. It’s not my cup of tea.
[insert scene from Community where Troy is about to drink his first drink on his 21st birthday but doesn’t when he sees what alcohol does to his friends.]