Sunday, March 23, 2008

Shirley Temple Revisited: The Trials of Dating a Non-Drinker

by Trish

I was as sweet as Shirley Temple in high school. That's what I drank too. Never imbibed before college... which is where I discovered how fun alcohol could be.

At my college we had a January term called Interim. I halfway convinced myself it was a German word for beer fest. I drank a lot and like many college students probably too much. There is something amazing about the body of an eighteen year old. I could drink like a fish (and I vividly remember not eating on evenings I was going to drink because of calorie trading) wake up the next morning with no hangover and go build sets all day for my theatre class.

I really miss that body.

I later went to live in The Netherlands, and I didn't know a soul. There is no easier way to meet someone than in a bar, so drinking became an integral part of my social life. That experience laid the foundation for what I am sure will be a life long love affair with alcohol--because not only was drinking fun, the beer actually tasted good.

After college was law school, where I really learned to appreciate alcohol. GOOD alcohol. I was finally a responsible adult drinker (those BBQ's I threw don't count) and I learned to appreciate a good Cabernet Sauvignon. My friends and I used to kick back with a bottle and a hunk of Brie every Thursday (that is the other reason I miss the body I had when I was eighteen.) Now I live in San Francisco and Napa beckons regularly.

Why this long rambling ode to booze you may ask?

Because my boyfriend doesn't drink.

It isn't a deal breaker, but it does make life a lot less fun.

On our first date he didn't order a drink, and we didn't meet at a bar. I was pretty surprised, after all I was fast becoming a 20 something cliché. How could I meet someone new and have no booze involved? I figured he wasn't drinking because he is a cop and was driving. After a couple dates with no drinks, I surmised he didn't drink, and ordered myself a beer when we got pizza. He seemed a little surprised, "you drink?" he asked. Why yes I do. And I happen to really enjoy it. Hope that won't be a problem.

It is, though, in all sorts of little ways.

Occasionally I decide I would like to have a glass of wine with dinner, even if I am eating alone. That always freaks him out a little. I think he has read one too many of those "Do You Have a Drinking Problem" pamphlets. Now that we have been together for six months and he realizes I don't go out and get schnockered every weekend he is calmer about it, but I always know he is watching and wondering . . . because he just doesn't get it.

Why doesn't he drink? He hates the taste. Really hates the taste. This has caused its own problems. For Christmas he went out and bought a bottle of good red wine so we could have a romantic dinner. I was eating and sipping my wine and noticed he had gulped his glass down and poured himself another before I was even halfway through my first. By the time dinner was over he was three sheets to the wind. So, I poured some water and juice down him, made him take a couple aspirin and put him to bed. I was terrified he would have a hangover the next day, and I would never be able to talk him into drinking again. Luckily I acted quickly enough and he was fine in the morning.

Valentine's day was even more horrifying. He bought a bottle of champagne and proceeded to mix it with 7-up (7-up!) so he could stand to drink it. I was so depressed by both these incidents that we have made a deal--he doesn't try to drink just to please me. I just can't stand to see good wine being gulped.

This relationship has definitely curtailed my drinking. Plus, it has changed my social life quite a bit. I took a friend to my favorite hole in the wall bar a couple of weeks ago and the bartender feigned a heart attack. "Where have you been?" he demanded. I also found out that my second favorite bartender had quit and moved to Thailand. I guess I hadn't been there in quite a while. Although I would not refer to these people as friends, they were a part of my life--and it seems strange to me that the bartender knows my dog but not my boyfriend.

The weather is getting warmer and I am hankering for a wine tasting trip. I don't think my boyfriend will enjoy it even though the views are pretty, so I will probably go with other friends (and I will leave out the description of how we wobbily ride our bikes on Highway 1 from winery to winery.)

I have a plan though. I think there must be some sort of drink that is manly enough for him but doesn't taste like booze. I am reading bartending handbooks and scouring the web for the right cocktail.

And yet, even if I find that perfect drink, I'll always be a little sad that my sweet boyfriend will never appreciate a cold beer and a hot brat at a summer picnic.

No comments:

Post a Comment