What It’s Like To Be T-Total

I don’t drink. Never have, the only alcohol I’ve ever ingested is in cough syrup and one accidental sip of sangria when I was 15 which left me sick as a dog all day. That was the day I decided: never again. Some people (ok- most people) might think that it’s pretty foolish to rule out all alcohol from the tender age of 15, but let me explain a couple of things first:

1) I don’t like fizzy drinks. So the whole Champagne tasting when you’re in your early teens (very common in France) I never did.

2) The above actually rules out a whole array of alcoholic drinks, so my choices were always going to be limited.

3) I think I must have been a dog in a previous life, because I can smell alcohol in any drink. Numerous friends have tried to offer me their vodka-orange or any other juice/alcohol combinations, claiming that you couldn’t smell/taste a thing. Wrong. I can. And when you don’t like the smell of something, you’re a lot less likely to drink or eat it. And wine aficionados kill me now because, to me, wine smells like vinegar. But I am of French and Spanish origin and I can still pick a good wine just from watching members of my family. Don’t give me that three bottles for £10 shit you got here.

4) I come from several continental European nations were alcohol is seen more as an accompaniment to food, rather than a means to an end alone. Of course, binge drinking is on the rise everywhere, especially in teenage years, but I mainly remember going for dinner or  to parties where alcohol was present, but not overpowering. Coming to England has been quite a shock I must say.


So don’t I feel left out? It’s a question most people ask me. Well, no. I don’t feel left out. On the contrary, I feel dragged in. In case you didn’t know, the brain reacts to what it sees. So when you’re surrounded by people who are a bit ‘merry’, you will end up acting just as ‘merry’ whether you are drunk or not. Plus I have very little inhibitions so I’m always the first on the dance floor, arm in the air, singing the lyrics at the top of my voice.

What I hate, and what none of my drinking friends understand, is the end of the night. The point where they’re just buying drinks because they have nothing in their hand. Or they’re downing shots because it’s fun. And just after that comes the breaking point. The moment where they think they’re having a perfectly coherent and highly intellectual conversation with you, trying to scream in your ear over the super loud music, when in fact all I’m getting is grunts and very incoherent fragments of words.

It’s also the moment when the club closes and like a mother hen trying to get her chicks back in the coop, I end up mothering the lot into walking home. There are unexpected stops as people just end up dropping away from the group and when you suddenly realise they’re missing you need to run back and pick them up from where they were sitting on a bench or holding on to a lamppost. There’s also the traditional stopover at the chip shop so stomachs can be lined with cheesy chips.

But worst of all… Is the lack of control, or power, for lack of a better word. They’re drunk, and you’re not, and so everything is in your hands. You need to tell the guy who’s walked us home that he can’t stay the night. You need to pick up the friend who stumbled and fell flat on his face. It’s your responsibility to tell the people who are screaming to be quiet.

And, you remember. And for that fact alone, most friends will avoid you for a day or two, maybe even a week. Because you were there, and you saw, and you heard, and you will not let it lie. Because you know better, and so do they, but they were drunk, so all hell broke loose. And you’re the one who wants to know what happened, why it happened, what on Earth they were thinking. Except they don’t remember. They also have no memory of things they deemed really important that they yelled at you on the walk home. And you’re left with this blank.


So yeah, that’s what it feels like. And I don’t mind when people have fun. Hell, we all need a little more fun in our lives. Just don’t push it in my shoes, and don’t blame me for knowing what you did last night. And remember, I’m your friend, not your mother.


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