Wednesday, February 18, 2009


First, here's my phrase of the day: Speculation is not a best practice.

Snooty, subtle, widely applicable, and something I will have forgotten about a week from now. I like it. Just like a good bottle of wine.

Anyone who has known me well between the years 1991 and 2008 has known that I don't drink. For a full 17 years in my adult life, the only alcohol to touch my lips was in the two or three cap-fulls of NyQuil to help me with winter flus. With the help of an annual flu shot, even NyQuil had become a rarity for me. No booze, period.

I have never been drunk, and being around people who have had too much always made me uncomfortable. The social drinkers who like scotch with their conversation, the regular guys who grab a couple beers for the ballgame, the cultured families who like a glass of wine with dinner (or the church groups who like a box of wine after a prayer meeting), those I've always been OK with, and I made efforts to not seem judgmental.

I'm pretty good with words. I can be convincing, have on occasion talked my way into places I have no business being, and when I'm fishing for information I'm good at eliciting much more out of people than I give them back. Without meaning to sound like a braggart, I'd make a good spy. Sometimes I imagine myself like Hannibal Heyes from Alias Smith and Jones... Anyway, no matter how eloquent I can phrase something, no matter how quick I am with words or how convincing I can be when I try, I always make "No, I don't drink... don't mind me, I'll just hang out and watch." sound a lot like "you are a bunch of losers and I wish I wasn't here." Something about the inflection or cadence, I don't know.

To be frank, this little faux pas, emotional blind spot, this inability to sell a feeling confidently, has cost me friends. It has kept me off invite lists, and it has probably cost me promotions in a time when I seemed to be making inroads to the "good old boy" network of my last job, but was then benched and given a fixed salary.

I seem to judge when I don't intend to. By not joining in the drinking game, I create a rift between me and other people. If it were cocaine and crazed drug users, I'd be happy about creating that rift, but the people I know who drink are cool, and most don't get falling down drunk or fondly tell their drinking anecdotes. You know, the ones that end with "And when I came to..." and involve things like checking your car for damage, or not knowing where you are or who the chick wearing your shirt is. That's the kind of boozin' I don't want to be associated with. The tray full of shooters, people shouting a lot and trying to be rowdy, the throw-the-table-tennis-ball-into-a-cup and other get drunk games, the things stupid college kids do when they first taste freedom. People being stupid while drunk at parties - I'm against it.

But most of the people I know don't let themselves go that far. They drink, they relax, they're happy and open. Inversely, I don't drink, I don't relax, and I'm seldom happy. Open? I see myself as open, but a lifetime of being an outlier has built up some bad habits. I've got more work to do there, but one problem at a time.

I'd like to relax, and it was this thought that stuck in my head, and encouraged me to take the plunge. After years of being dry, I just decided to give it a go and see what I thought. I went to a grocery store with my wife and bought a random bottle of red wine, a Pinot Noir, that declared itself flavorful and fruity. We took it home, and I poured myself a little swig in my only wine glass, swirled it around like the city-folk do, took a sniff, had no context to put the aroma in so banked it for future reference, and drank it. It was nasty and bitter. Possibly it was corked, or just a shitty vintage, I still don't have enough context.

Since then my wife and I have gone through a few different bottles, and I think I'm learning the flavor a little. It's interesting, and I don't feel like I'm on my way to ruin financially or in danger of becoming a daytime lush - a glass or two at night, and not every night, seems to suffice to help me relax in the evening. That's a good thing.

Plus, now I get to experiment in other ways, like getting a bottle of champagne with the hotel room on Valentine's day, which was OK but we probably should have chilled it, and trying a screwdriver and then a little rum at The Thirsty Ear when we met up with some friends to listen to some live music. (Yes on the screwdriver, no on the rum.) Fun. Turns out bars aren't like they're portrayed in movies. No one tried to pick up anyone else's girl, there weren't any thrown chairs or fist-fights, nor did I see any cloak and dagger meetings with code phrases... "I hear the ducks are wandering this June.", "Yes, but only when it's sunny." Nothing like that at all. Just people chillin', and the more adventurous/wasted dancing a little to the music.

More on this new development as it progresses. Until then, I recommend Vino100 on Polaris to anyone just starting out with wine. Nice ladies, those.

No comments:

Post a Comment