Friday, June 27, 2014

The Stupidity of Alcohol

The topic is a little off the running path but it may shock you to know I have a life outside of running.


Nevertheless, the topic is often tied to many sports and running is definitely not immune. The subject is Alcohol.

Runners, by and large, seem to like to drink alcohol a fair amount. It is lost on me, however.  I don't fully understand why people who work so hard to rely on their bodies to perform optimally like to take in a substance which is simply bad for them. While I am a teetotaler, I have at least given it a shot. Therefore, my opinion can't be dismissed as easily as some who dismiss views on children if you don't have any or views on women if you aren't one (for example.)  You see, I drank for a a few years once I became legal to do so and then basically lost all interest.

Now, I’d like to say I plan to never drink alcohol again. I’d like to say I am doing it for my health alone and am taking a stand against alcohol. But that’s not the case, at least it isn’t the reason I haven’t had a drop in 15 years. No, I stopped ordering beer and its ilk because I simply didn’t like the taste of the stuff. I deserve no parades and no “good for you”s. It’s easy to not do things you don’t enjoy. 

But lots of people do things they don’t necessarily enjoy because of social pressure. Or they make excuses for drinking (e.g., “I’m not a drinker; I only drink when I am in social settings” holds as much water as “I’m not gay; I only sleep with men when I am in San Francisco.”) I used to drink alcohol as I assumed it was an acquired taste. You know, one you have to slide into gradually. I didn’t care that anyone else was drinking and was rather immune to social norms of drinking. But I did assume that perhaps it took refinement; or the right drink; or atmosphere. Then I realized all of that is moronic. Why should I imbibe in something that I don’t enjoy when there are many things to drink that I do enjoy? Like water. Or Diet Mountain Dew? (The line forms to the left to tell me that that drink isn't good for me.)

I did think that perhaps I hadn’t tried enough different alcohols.  So I tried more.  All kinds. I have had just about everything out there and nothing even remotely is appealing to me. You can fruity it up all you want but if you like those flavors, then just drink something with those flavors that isn't alcohol. 

So a few months of not having an alcohol turned into a few years which turned into a decade and a half. I realized that in my recently acquired 38th year of life (you didn’t even send a card, you freaking lush), I had consumed alcohol for approximately two years. Then I realized I liked less than just the flavor.
The culture surrounding any particular drink (and each one seems to have its own) didn’t fit me. I didn’t have things in common with those who liked to drink. More correctly, I did not have things in common with those who drank when they were drinking.

The excuses which alcohol provides people for ridiculous behavior, bad communication skills and a litany of other things I find laughable. If I wouldn’t put up with that behavior from you sober, I’m not going to do it because you voluntarily took a drug that makes you think you can do it now.  Heck, I can barely stand most people who are not impaired. Throw in alcohol and imagine how annoying that must be. 

But I ask friends what they did the previous night and they explain they went somewhere. The place was usually irrelevant as the focus of the evening was what they were drinking.  The locale didn’t have to be excited because they were downing a depressant. The conversation was mostly sophomoric and without merit They didn’t actually do anything at all. They drank. Remove the alcohol and what they actually did was mundane. But they have the time of their lives!

This dislike of the drink and the culture is not discriminatory towards certain drinks. Whether it is barflys in a local pub or insufferable oenophiles swishing a particular pinot around to let it breathe (even though they can’t tell a red wine from a white wine), each have their own peccadilloes which I thoroughly enjoy avoiding.

And so should you.  Think of all the deaths (over 10,000 in 2012 from DUIs alone), suffering, fights, domestic abuse (both genders) and every horrible thing which are a byproduct from alcohol.   

It distorts truth.  Ben Franklin never said “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”  In fact, Ben was actually talking about rain.  His actual quote is “Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.” But that won’t fit on a snappy t-shirt.

This hasn’t even touched on how horrific alcohol is on your body. Liver damage, cancer, toxic all-around. Yeah, let’s throw back a few more of those! 

When I mentioned I was writing this article to a friend, she said that she had never seen anything remotely like it. She assumed that she was one in a million who didn’t like alcohol, didn’t want to drink it, and something was wrong with her. I assured her she was far from alone.

Now, I know this won't sit well with all people and I am not saying you can't have a drink. Or that there are no good side effects which may beneficial, as some studies seem to say.  But it is not like you couldn't get those side effects from something else that isn't alcohol. 

In the end, the point is all about doing what you enjoy best which benefits you the most. Everything we do is a cost-benefit analysis.  I have just done the math and realize that subtracting alcohol from my life gives me the correct equation.

1 comment:

Mike Kahn said...

Great read. Thanks.