I don’t drink. It’s not a big deal, I just don’t enjoy alcoholic beverages, neither the taste nor the effect. I would have thought that it wouldn’t matter much, because drinking has just never meant anything to me. I’m the eldest of three brothers, raised in an upper middle class home with quite a degree of luxury.
One luxury was a splendid ‘recreation room’ in which there was a wet bar along with a fireplace and entertainment center. Behind the wet bar was a vast amount of alcoholic beverages. Literally dozens of cases of bottles of Ne Plus Ultra, Crown Royal, Canadian Club, Glenfiddich and what all, filled the under-bar area. I never really paid attention.
There were wines, too, and on glass shelves on the back wall of the bar was a great variety of liqueurs. Crème de Menth, Amoretto, Baily’s and others gathered dust, as did the cases under the bar. My brothers and I went through life, through our teens, and none of us ever went behind the bar for anything. The unopened cases were coated with dust. Mom and Dad also never drank, except at joyous functions, socially only.
As a matter of fact, the bottles that were not opened at my bar mitzvah at thirteen years of age were finally opened at my wedding, twenty years later.
I guess I’ve established the environment of my youth. Now, there are other people, some in my same socio-economic category, to whom a drink when they arrive home from the office is standard. They think dinner without wine is peculiar, and excessive drinking happens, either occasionally, regularly, or constantly.
I wonder what characteristics of their background has led them to enjoy imbibing.
So solidly is the drinking life established, that my preference to not drink made me suspect in the workplace. It was advertising, and I was creating commercials. The ‘suits’, like brand managers and account managers spend many hours talking business and baloney over drinks. Beer seemed to be in the office and whiskey out at lunch and after hours. I once had a co-worker say: “What’s the matter, are you too good to drink with us?”
That set me in a mind that people who drink are a bit ashamed of it. Maybe that’s why most drinking places are dimly lit, to be secretive.
Again, it’s a place I hate to be, yet millions of people are daily drawn to the bars. I used to race foreign sports cars as a hobby, and most of my companions in that activity were Scottish, Irish, British, and German. To them, the routine of “hoisting a few” is fun and traditional. We formed a group of sports cars to drive together from Toronto, Canada to Sebring, Florida, to attend a twelve-hour Le Mans endurance race.
Along the way, from time to time, the European guys would cause us to go into roadside joints for beers and buns. Those places were horrible to me. Cracked and dirty plywood floors, smoke filled air, country music, and just generally unsavoury environments.
Don’t misunderstand my feelings. I’m grateful for the experiences. I can be around drinking and smoking, even drug-taking, but I have no inclination to indulge. I’ve done them all, know what it does, and I’m satisfied to do without.
As I said, the differences among people confuses me. My own children, for instance, a son and a daughter. They are both over fifty now. The boy/man has done little but become a heroin addict and welfare recipient.
The girl has earned herself some valuable downtown Toronto property by educating herself, entering her profession when very young, rising to the pinnacle in the tough world of television and movies, and enjoys a luxurious life.
In any case, everybody dies, but not everybody really lives. I’ve always lived deeply, rich and poor, it’s all just an adventure anyway. Most people my age are dead. Yet, here I am, chugging right along. As the Chinese wisdom says: “If you lose your looks, learn to sing.”