As January closes, it’s time to reflect on the things that we have resolved not to do. A lot of people have had success losing weight. Some have converted to veganism. Some people have started going to church more.
These resolutions are fairly large and loud, whether or not you are announcing them or not. But, outside of these common self-causes, what is the noisiest of resolutions? This has not been proven, no, but my assumption would be that it’s the “I’m not drinking for a few months!” resolution. It’s the crankiest, most weighted, most thrust-upon-you-as-a-drinker-or-non-drinker resolution to be made. It says so much about ones’ habits and, like other loud identities, it is put in the faces of others. “Do you want to meet up to get a drink?” a person asks. “Oh, no, I’m not drinking for three months, until March 15th, because I drink too much and I need to stop drinking as much and I just don’t want to be drinking right now because I’m not drinking,” a person gets back. Cool? Maybe it should just be rephrased as, “My nights are booked! Can we just grab coffee?” That works.
This resolution has taken the Trying To Hold A Fart In meme to a new peak, dethroning the talking about veganism variation. Perhaps it is a pre-AA type of admission—”I’m not boozin’!! Let me tell you about it!!!!!”—that helps one cope but, dudes, don’t be a buzzkill before the buzz has even begun for someone else. It’s not maddening as much as it’s a broken record that spews grating think piece after grating think piece, grating trend piece after grating trend piece. You be you and be healthy, please—but please weigh your wagon down because you are squeaking up a fucking storm telling me and you and everyone we know about it.
The height of this loudly-not-drinking narrative is a trend (“trend”) that the Times is on: nonalcoholic happy hours. From Brooklyn to Los Angeles to London, people are getting together for “enlightertainment,” to drink “floral essence water” and “hot lemon-ginger elixir.” Or, they want to participate in a “juice crawl.” Those were all quotes from the story, ideas that really cannot be made up by even the shrewdest of parody artists.
Curious about how a nonalcoholic happy hour works? Read onward.
At the name-tag table, everyone was asked an icebreaker: “What actor would you cast to play you in a movie?”
Elle Fanning. Kate Hudson. Several Natalie Portmans. A man in a blazer scanned his phone, stumped. “You know, in ‘Sex & the City 2’? When they’re in Dubai? That butler?” asked Siddhartha Banthiya, an investment banker.
People lined up for sunchoke salad and kale-pumpkin-seed pesto. “This is truly a breath of fresh air,” said Porl Gordon, a multimedia designer and regular drinker, guzzling a green juice. “Conversations are more solid and rooted than any alcohol-fueled chat.”
Nick DiMattina, 28, an Australian life coach, said that he had come looking for love, and that he prefers to date sans alcohol. “It’s the only way to see the real person,” he said. “I told my friends, this is where you’ll meet a cool girl.”
This legit sounds like a Catholic youth group mixer or some sort of cult where people drink non-poisonous liquid and pet each other. To take this madness further, the happy hours sans spirits are evolving further: “meditation bars” are now opening, where people can go and hang out in silence. Yes, this is what it’s come to.
No, the not-drinking doesn’t kill me: it’s the culture, it’s the attitude behind it, the judgement, the constant nagging reminder, the “Look at this great thing we are doing.” that is said like an itchy sweater being wrapped around you, one that is so warm that you feel is causing your face to break out in heat-illness related hives. It’s the same feeling you get from straight edge kids who go to Christian Punk Rock concerts and the same feeling you get from people who host kombucha keg parties and tempeh barbecues. No, I do not know if either of those things are real but—I can assure you.—they are adjacent to this “real happy hour” movement, the one where everyone gets high off of their wanting alcohol and scratching each other’s backs to prevent themselves from chewing their glasses, crunching alcohol-free stemware in their mouths because they cannot get a sip in.
I admire those who go off alcohol and, really, have been making efforts to give my mind and body a break from not drinking. Am I going around singing my teetotaling hymn? Fuck no. That sounds awful, to be the person who repeatedly and repeatedly and repeatedly shows you their non-drinking ID just so they can remind you that, yes, they are of the age and of the income to afford booze but, no, they are not boozin’.