Saturday, April 28, 2007
Vintage worms... my rant on social drinking
The first days here in Europe have been mostly meetings and travel, but today we rented rode bikes and rode 55 km in Holland. Part of the time we could see Germany and Belgium, but we didn't cross over. Here are some photos of the trip: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caswell_tom/sets/72157600150840734/
I have been offered more beer, wine, and liqueur than ever in the last couple days, so I have added a special "nobeer" tag for photos from places where I have disappointed the locals by ordering nothing more than a soda :-) This all reminds me of my dad's diplomatic drinking story. The same thing happens in the US, too. When my dad was in high school, some other kids held him down and chipped his tooth trying to force him to drink alcohol.
I have no problem with people drinking -- as long as they drink responsibly and don't run over my kids. But can we please get over this fixation with trying to get others to drink? Why is not drinking less acceptable than drinking? I don't drink because I have been asked not to by my church. I feel fine about my choice, and that's that. If this seems too strange or hard to understand, let's try a different example.
If as part of a certain church's beliefs the congregation was not supposed to eat worms, and if I wanted to be part of that church, I would stop eating worms just like that. Even if worm eating was trendy and hip. Even if people hired special worm selectors to find them the very best vintage worms for special occasions. And actually, when it comes to worms I really don't have much of a desire to eat them anyway, so it really isn't much of a loss for me. That's how I feel about drinking alcoholic drinks.
So you might be wondering how I know what I'm missing if I haven't tasted it? Well, not that I am too concerned about what I am missing, but I did taste beer by accident when I was 14 or 15. I got the cups mixed up at my friend Greg Pickett's house and accidentally grabbed his dad's beer and took a swig. It was so nasty! I ran to the bathroom and spat it out as fast as I could. Some people say beer and other drinks are an acquired taste. Sure, and so is eating worms. I also realize I haven't tasted every kind of alcoholic drink, so there might be a good one out there. I feel the same thing holds true with eating worms. Some will invariably taste better than others.
So if I offend someone by not drinking with them, perhaps I should be equally offended by their lack of respect for my choice. Maybe I have found something that is worth giving up drinking for. You may not care, and that's OK. Just don't try to impose your way of doing things on me and I won't impose my ways on you. I can still join in your toast, but I will toast with my soda.