No one ever assumes you eat Brussels sprouts. No one brings you to their living room, presents two plates of Brussels sprouts, and sits grinning, waiting for you to go to town. No one orders a round of Brussels sprouts for the table. No one asks you out with, "let's get Brussels sprouts." And no one nods knowingly when you're a shambles Sunday morning from Brussels sprouts gas.
Now, it happens, I do, in fact, love Brussels sprouts. It also happens that I do not drink alcohol. And yet, everyone I meet makes the assumption that I do, until told otherwise. Drinker until proven abstinent. This bothers me.
I quit drinking in April 2009, because I didn't like how entwined my dating and drinking lives had become. I decided the only way to fully render them apart would be to quit drinking completely, until I found myself in a relationship, procured sans-drink, at which point I would re-evaluate.
The bad news is I'm still waiting on that relationship. The good news is the length of time it's taken for that point of re-evaluation to arrive provided the space for a major discovery to emerge: removing alcohol from my system caused my tendency toward depression to disappear. I consider myself "emotionally allergic" to alcohol. Some people get more affected by the depressant substance than others, and I'm one of those MANY people. The security of knowing I will likely never suffer another depressive episode again - at least to the severity and frequency I had - is enough reason for me to never bother with the stuff again.
It wasn't until I left the culture, though, that I discovered how all-encompassing it is, especially when you're trying to date. I have written on my internet dating profile (I can say that I have one of those in public now, right? Is the stigma gone....?) that I don't drink, and yet almost every message I get includes the phrase, "Let's get drinks sometime."
It's not that I hold drinking against anyone - if it works for you it works for you - it's the assumptive nature of the culture that bothers me. The rare occasions someone asks me IF I drink as opposed to what I drink, I want to hug them. They make me feel like someone who has made a simple choice of preference, as opposed to some crazy outsider, or someone who must obviously have a problem because why stop otherwise?
So. IF you are a drinker, I ask that the next time you are in the situation to offer a new friend alcohol, you ask before assuming. But, if you want to ask me out, go ahead and try "Let's get Brussels sprouts." I'll likely say yes.
- Lynne Rosenberg