Punkie Doesn't Drink

Alcohol, I mean. I don't drink beer, wine, heavy liquor or any other spirit. I also don't "do" drugs, but that's not what this little mini thing is about.

"You don't drink alcohol? Why...?"

Some comedian said that no one ever asks that about anything else, like "You don't eat mayonnaise? Why...?" Most people assume that people who do not drink are either weirdly religious or a recovering alcoholic, neither of which makes a good impression. But, saying the truth is just as bad. I don't like saying to some complete stranger, "My mother was an alcoholic, my father came from a long line of them, and I grew up in a snobby upper-middle class neighborhood where getting drunk was considered the main goal of any event no matter how inappropriate or what the consequences were. I made a promise to myself when I was 8 years old that I would NEVER drink alcohol, because I saw what it did to my mother, and kept this promise because I saw what it did to everyone else." Try saying that to someone you want to impress. Yeah.

#1 - It killed my mother
But here are the facts in detail. My mother was an alcoholic. When I was really young, I didn't understand why my mother went through periods of being weepy and out of it. It got really bad when I was about 8, when I made that promise after spending three hours with my passed-out mother, trying to prevent her naked and snoring body from rolling over into a huge pile of broken glass. She had passed out onto a table, which caused it to fall over, shattering a large decorative hurricane lamp that served as a centerpiece. The fall also ripped her house dress apart, and I had to muster all of my 8-year-old strength to keep her from rolling over unto the shattered lamp. This was before I really knew about 911, and I should have called it, but I feared that if I left her, she'd roll over into the glass and die. I knew by this time that her affection for wine was to blame for this, since a spilled jug of some white wine was next to her left hand. I can still smell that wine, feel the texture of the area rug piercing my knees through my pajamas, forcing with all my might to keep a 250 lb body from rolling over while at the same time avoiding the broken glass myself. I kept screaming for her to wake up, and didn't stop until she started snoring and relaxed her body. I don't recall what happened after that. This was to be my first taste of the next ten years of taking care of my mother. During those ten years I must have replayed those moments in various ways. My mother didn't have bruises because my father beat her (to my knowledge, as terrible as he was, I never saw or had evidence he ever beat her), she had them because I wasn't there to get her to bed before she fell into something. Countless occasional tables, plant stands, chairs, and pieces of art were set upright, fixed, or simply tossed away during this period. And each time I fixed a wooden leg, vacuumed up potted soil, cleaned up vomit or urine, or had to push her to bed, I repeated to myself the same mantra over and over. "I swear, I will never drink when I am grown up." Later, when she commited suicide, she had already upgraded herself from wine to vodka. I discovered her dead one winter morning, slouched on the edge of the bed with a quart bottle of vodka and two empty tranquilzer pill bottles.

#2 - It made my friends stupid
Being an upper-middle class teen in the Reagan era didn't help matters much, either. I had a lot of friends who also had problems at home, and even those that didn't were under pressure to drink to look mature. I saw people whom I personally knew as wonderful human beings become monsters while drunk. My mother, to her credit, only got weepy and chatty when drunk. She never did more violence than the occasional sissy slaps to get my hands off of her while pushing her to bed, and when she yelled, she wasn't more abusive than an occasional accusation that was probably at least partially obvious or true. But among fellow peers, I saw demure girls become raging machines of anger, ready to draw blood from random strangers. I saw otherwise rational young men turn into dumbass daredevils. I saw that drinking affected everyone differently, unlike other drugs, which were fairly predictable. Mary might be a mean drunk while Susan just passed out. Bob would flirt heavily and expose himself a lot, but Kyle just sobbed uncontrollably. Some could hold their liquor. Some couldn't. Some could drink like a fish and look completely sober and in control when they needed to be. But most became immune to self-discipline after just a few drinks. I recall many a night on cold bathroom floors with some friend, holding their hair back while they "prayed to the Earl of Ralph on the porcelain altar." Sometimes I was the judge player during the "should we call an ambulance?" game. Did I get peer pressure? A little. But among my friends, we had a mutual respect, and besides, the illegal stuff was not plentiful most of the time, so what I didn't drink, someone else could. Here is an example of what I was told would happen when I was offered a beer:

[porno-style music playing]
Girl: Hey, dude. Why not be groovy and drink this alcohol?
Guy1: No thanks, drinking is wrong. Not my bag, dig?
Girl: Don't be a party-pooper. Come on, everyone is doing it...
Guy2: Yeah, what's your problem. I invited you to this party to be cool.
Girl: You *are* cool, aren't you?
Crowd at party: Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink! DRINK! DRINK! DRINK! [fades to echoes]

Our friends used to laugh at these films. This was peer pressure for me:

[Echo and the Bunnymen music playing]
Girl: Want a beer?
Punk: No thanks.
Girl: Okay.

Most were offering me drinks to be polite, and the response, "Woo-hoo, more for me!" with a happy grin was not uncommon. I never understood why they drank, though. It was a bonding thing, I think. But many times, it went too far. Not among my friends, but among others who drank, they actually bragged about "how wasted" they got. "Oh mean, I got so wasted, I thought my van was Jesus Christ, and when my girlfriend came over, I ripped off her skirt and threw up on her face. Oh, man, what fun!" Yeah. Sounds great.

#3 - It ruined the fun on convention security
When I got older, and was working at sci-fi conventions on security, I saw some ugly, ugly stuff. I had one detail where some guy drank wood alcohol, and went blind. I saw a 14-year old kid get alcohol poisoning, and his girlfriend, afraid of what the police would do, lied about everything, and almost got two innocent adults arrested until the cops got wise to what was going on. Just last year, someone who had confused sexuality issues got tossed into the paddy wagon after nearly starting two fights. I hate drunks. There may only be one or two incidences for a 2000 person convention, but boy, do they make up for the slow "uneventful" periods.

Does Punkie hate you because you drink?

Of course not. I used to have a bug up my ass about it, but over time, I realized that a majority of people who drink are responsible. Most have a drink or two to "relax" and act as a "social lubricant" to quell small self-doubts. That's why alcohol is a party drug. It really does help in most cases. But it's not for me. Some tell me it's because I am afraid of losing control a little. Maybe so, but why take chances? Being an alcoholic is in my blood, and I don't want those little blood cells to get a taste of alcohol unless I am taking Nyquil or treating a shallow cut.

You mean you have NEVER drank a drop? Really?

I must be truthful. I did drink alcohol a few times. So few, I can name them:

That Manachevitz was at Albedo's house, wasn't it?

Shut up.
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