Sometimes it seems as if the world conspires to make people drink.
It's sort of like how straight folks seem to always tell me, "I don't mind if people are gay, but why do they have to flaunt it all the time?" I think about that and then I think about how much straight culture is "flaunted" in my face all the time ... in the movies, in magazines, on billboards, in books, on television, etc etc. Straight people are used to seeing straight people kissing, holding hands, and exuding their sexuality because it's all around us. So when a gay couple walks down the street holding hands, it seems like they're "flaunting" it when in actuality, all they're doing is what straight people do, in hordes, day after day.
I guess we just notice more what is unusual to us, or denied to us.
Since I quit drinking over ten months ago, it seems as if every time I turn around, there's a neon sign flashing "Cold Beer" or "Budweiser" at me. Here in Hawaii on vacation, the big draw is "Mai Tais," in neon, on whiteboards, and in the 2-for-1's offered at the waterfront restaurants during Happy Hour. At Kona Brewing Company the other day for lunch, the waiter took Chelle's order for a Castaway IPA, nodded his approval, then turned to me for my drink order. "Diet Coke," I said.
His face fell. Seriously.
"Aw, come on," he said. "You have to try the local beer!"
I just laughed and said, "You really don't want to see me with a few drinks in me."
Chelle chimed in with, "You REALLY don't."
And we all laughed, so he gave up pushing it on me.
Just as most people assume others are straight unless otherwise informed, most people assume others are not alcoholics. You would not believe how many servers, upon seeing Chelle order a drink, look positively surprised when I don't order one, too. I see the words "party pooper" cross their furrowed brows.
Ah, but that's life. I'm enjoying actually watching the sunset instead of focusing more on how many Mai Tais I can safely order in one sitting without coming across as a drunk. I'm enjoying waking up around 6:30 or 7:00am and listening to the birds, hearing the waves crashing against the lava along the shoreline, and smelling the plumeria lei hanging at the head of the bed. In the past, I'd waste half the day sleeping in until 11:00, popping ibuprofen and chugging water in hopes of chasing off the hangover, then giving up and ordering a Bloody Mary at lunch to fix me up.
I am happy in my sobriety, happier than I've ever been. The gifts far outweigh any stray moments of discomfort.
A great one: I will remember this entire vacation.