That is the question.
I have been straightedge for 13 years. That is: No drugs, alcohol, or promiscuous sex. But now I am questioning my beliefs. Did I even have any?
I am Christian and so you may think, “Oh, well you don’t drink because of your religious beliefs, like many other christians I know.” But I would say no. Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine, so he obviously supports drinking alcohol. Now, don’t misunderstand me, the bible says not to over-indulge, but it also doesn’t say no wine at all.
I was also heavily involved with the Hardcore Music scene of the late 90’s in Syracuse which was predominantly straightedge and vegan. I subscribed to those values easily and have since seen many of my friends “lose their edge” and drink. I was never vegan though, I just love meat too much. Mmmm steak.
So why now? I was having dinner with my wife and she wanted some wine that my godmother had given us as a housewarming gift. She seemed to enjoy it and asked if I wanted any. I (of course) said no, but I thought it was odd of her to ask. She’s known me for years, and that is one fact about me that has not changed. I just don’t drink alcohol. We even have a funny story from when we were in Germany. We were visiting some of Opa’s friends and they asked if I would like some wine. I said, “Nien danke, Ich bin anti-alcohol.” They just couldn’t comprehend that someone wouldn’t drink since that is a big part of the culture over there. So the wife said, “OK, I’ll just pour a little bit then.” It’s like that scene in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” with that aunt who is astounded that the guy doesn’t eat meat. “OK, I make lamb instead!” But it got me to thinking, why not. I’m grown up. I’m not going to get plastered. Hmmmm.
So why do I not drink? Back in high school, I chose not to, to avoid binge drinking at parties and the casual sex that could result from said drinking. The Hardcore scene supported my choice and provided a strong sense of unity and belonging. “We are strong because we choose not to pollute our bodies and minds.” But part of me wonders that the real reason I don’t is that I have a semi-addictive personality and I’m scared I might turn out to be an alcoholic. Are you surprised? Have you seen me in one of my phases? Like the straight razors, or pirates, or martial arts, or…
I also think that, Well, I’ve been drug free all these years, it would be a shame to throw that away. Plus alcohol is just another thing for me to spend money on when we go out. Water is always cheaper than beer. (from the sips I had when I was 14, I remember not liking beer, or scotch, which is blasphemy from someone who identifies himself as Scottish)
Why do I WANT to drink? I suppose that I associate it with being grown up, having a glass of wine with supper. My cousin also brews his own beer and I always feel like I’m insulting him by not trying his creations, even though he knows that I don’t drink. There is also a huge amount of medical evidence that red wine is good for you, but on the other hand, I could just take Resveratrol supplements and get the same benifits. I also feel that I am somehow missing out on the pleasure of well made drinks. I certainly enjoy drinking a great many things. Coffee, tea, juice, fruit smoothies, etc. Conversly, there are so many styles of coffee and tea that I could be happy for years drinking the different varieties that just those two beverages have to offer.
So what should I do? I guess for now, I will continue in my sobriety until something changes. I don’t have a strong urge to drink and now that I started taking resveratrol, I don’t have anything to gain from the benefits of wine. One pill equals the amount of reveratrol in 200 glasses of wine, without the damage to your liver.
What do you think?
So here’s a quick update:
I had my first glass of wine at Easter dinner this year (2011.) (I bought the bottle for my wife for Valentines Day and kinda forgot she was pregnant so we had to wait to share a glass) It was ok, not great. I didn’t get drunk. I didn’t feel a magical bubble pop in my psyche. I didn’t feel my cells rejoice about their shot of resveratrol. A few weeks a ago I attended a wedding at a vineyard. I had 2 &1/2 glasses and may have felt a tiny buzz, but that may have been a headache from the sulphites. I also had a beer at a family BBQ and experienced the same “meh” feeling. I could not imagine myself drinking 5 or 6 of them in a row.
So that’s it. I do drink now, but I’ve still never been drunk and don’t really plan to be.
Why did I start now? Well, I’m 30 now so I guess I qualify as “grown up.” I feel like I should be able to have a glass of wine if I want to. An old friend and I were talking about this topic a few weeks after I had my first sip and he said, “Don’t let labels define you. You have enough of them that other people place on you as it is.” Being “straightedge” isn’t as vital to me now as it was. I’m not suddenly going to start doing black tar heroine or anything, but I feel like I shouldn’t feel bad about trying my cousin’s homemade ale, or sharing in a champagne toast at a wedding.
What do you think?