The Temporary Teetotaller

Hugh Upsher shows great restraint and does a wine festival sober

By Hugh Upsher

Partying and drinking go together like 24 hour Engens and Steers burgers, the former always seems hopelessly incomplete without the latter. So why would anyone want to separate the two? Well, sometimes you just get pressured into an obligation that involves being a temporary teetotaller for logistical reasons. For whatever reason, by voluntarily placing oneself in the land of the living drunks you’ll have some hurdles to politely maneuver around. 

As I walked through the bannered entrance, a complimentary wine glass was thrust into my hand with instructions on where to find the closest place to “fill ‘er up”. The next thing that tends to happen is the first person that recognizes you immediately offers you a drink, takes your glass and disappears just long enough to make you feel trapped in the spot they left you.

Unless you have religious reasons, a severe medical condition or you literally have no orifice to pour liquids down; there is no such answer as ‘no thanks’ or ‘not right now’ or even ‘maybe later’. Why would you ever consider such an offensive response? 

I’ve consistently found the worst part of being the non-drinker amongst drinkers is not the alienating feeling of soberness, but the damning pressure exerted by people trying their best to get you on the sauce. Few things are worse than seeing the disappointment in the sloppy eyes of a friend who tried and failed to get you to down something that no matter how cold, will always taste disgusting.

Having been on both sides of this coin has given me powerful insights into the human condition, the main insight being that drunk people don’t think too good. The reason why the drinker wants you to drink is so you can both go down with the ship in a loyal act of selflessness. If they know they are going to embarrass themselves, they want to make damn sure you remember the bare minimum of the ordeal. The logic being that a double negative makes a positive. 

The handiest survival trick I’ve perfected for situations such like this is the art of people watching. If you love nature documentaries like I do, you’ll appreciate the animals that come out people in environments that involve bottomless anything. Like the guy that doesn’t realize his wine is trickling out of his sideways glass and onto his pressed chinos. The woman who didn’t think anyone saw her eat a piece of Parma ham off the grass. This is a great pastime to enjoy while half listening to the disjointed drivel that sloshed people excel at dispensing at volume.

Luckily for me, after my one glass of wine down the hatch, I was free to play the ‘I have to drive just now’ bit, using my keys as a prop for emphasis. No one dares argue with that logic, which meant I was finally free to meander around in the sun guilt free devouring cheesy snacks like a travelling prince. And after doing my time I decided to rid myself of the wine soaked masses and move on to my next social obligation where I planned to get totally rat faced with a different set of sweaty heathens.