When I was 20 years old I went to a birthday party. I think it was someone’s 21st. During said party I got drunk. Very drunk.
During the night, for some reason lost to the annals of time and missing brain cells, my friends started giving each other nipple cripples.
And I bloody hate nipple cripples.
Of course, the situation escalated. Being utterly smashed in every sense of the word, I can’t remember the precise sequence of events, but after being slapped on the face by my own brother, and subsequently double jabbing him on the dial in retaliation, both me and my younger sibling – absolutely sloshed, practically drooling on ourselves – were (quite rightly) flung out of the pub.
My brother was launched out first, and I was roughly two seconds behind him, but the fight had just begun. He was waiting for me outside and, playing perfectly into the hands of every Scottish stereotype ever devised, launched into an audacious headbutt that nearly took me clean off my feet.
But incredibly, that wasn’t the end. After getting separated by a couple of friends, I quickly broke free, and in a split second we were rolling around on the deck beating the holy crap out of each other.
In the middle of a main road.
Then somehow, for a reason unbeknownst to man or beast, the brawling stopped. My brother went stomping off home, and I staggered behind him.
And, bizarrely, we walked for 16 km like this, 100 metres apart the whole time, volleying abuse at each other for the entire two and a half hours it took us to walk home.
It was the first and only fight I’ve had as an adult and, to date, it’s probably the biggest regret of my entire life.
It’s also the main reason why I never drink alcohol.
My wife also doesn’t drink, but for completely different reasons. Mostly religious reasons.
Because practicing Seventh Day Adventist Christians, almost universally, do not drink alcohol. Technically they’re not supposed to ingest caffeine either or dance the funky monkey either, but booze is a bigger deal and by far the more serious commitment.
It’s all part of the SDA ‘health message’, which is a pivotal part of their Christianity. After Ellen G. White rolled her eyes back and started babbling about eating carrots and Cornflakes, SDAs worldwide swore off alcohol. And I, for the most part, think it’s a pretty awesome thing. In a way, it’s one of the main reasons my wife and I got together.
Because me and the missus initially bonded over the fact that we were usually the only two sober people in our circle of friends at the time – the only people at the party we could talk to without getting drenched in saliva – but the harsh truth was that I, as an extremely arrogant and self centred know-it-all wank-biscuit, always thought that my (non religious) decision to not drink was the superior one.
My choice, I thought, was made as a result of logic, based directly from experience – a conscious choice reinforced by my own self-discipline and refusal to bow to societal standards (yep, I was an utter tool). My wife’s, on the other hand, was a choice borne of repression, God and, I think she’ll admit this, a fear of disappointing her family, in particular her parents. I thought her reasons for not drinking made her choice a little redundant and meaningless.
I was of course, completely wrong. And a total tosser to boot.
My thinking’s a little different now. I like to think that I’m less of a tool than I was before. In this case at least, a lifestyle decision is a decision regardless of why you make it. And of all the Seventh Day Adventist quirks and lifestyle choices, the not-drinking one is probably the one I support most. It’s a change that didn’t require any adjustment on my part and in many ways it was actually a huge weight off my shoulders
Because in my line of work the pressure to drink is enormous; and with my friends the situation is similar. The truth is that I’ve always seen my decision not to drink as a lonely one. I often find myself in bars; disgustingly sober, surrounded by friends, wasted, repeating themselves ad infinitum, slobbering two centimetres away from my ear – and while I love my friends to death there generally is a time when I find myself far too sober for that kind of party.
And it’s for that reason that hanging out with Seventh Day Adventists can often be quite a relief for me. Even on a Saturday night, when the booze would usually be flowing, I don’t have to worry about someone asking me ‘why I don’t drink’, like I’ve just farted in their wine glass. I don’t have to tolerate someone waffling in my lughole incoherently; I can just relax.
I’m never too sober for a Seventh Day Adventist party and, regardless of the reasons for that sobriety, I think that’s ultimately a very good thing.
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