In The Washington Post, Steven Petrow recounts how his not drinking alcohol made him a kind of public nuisance socially.
Those who were drinking, for example, assumed he was judging them. Also they feared he would cast a cloud over their merriment. English majors might remember dour Malvolio from Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." His bros censured him for not joining in the fun.
And those who were, like Petrow, abstaining for drinking alcohol for a reason, assumed he should have been in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The AA program positions and packages its tenets as recommendations. It's the members who have transformed them into "oughts." Annoying ones.
All this sound and fury about alcohol or the lack of it had hammered how important the beverage is in society. The cover story of the National Geographic is about mankind's 9,000 year love affair with booze. The fact is that mankind probably wouldn't have survived without alcohol.
At the time when there wasn't enough food easily available, the fruit fallen from trees and fermenting on the ground kept early man going. That provided the calories needed. In her book "Drinking in America," Susan Cheever documents the same reality. The colonists needed booze to fill the calorie gap between the food they could get their hands on and what is required to function.
Boozing continues to play a survival role in professional life. Lawyers and those of us in communications do lots of business with lots of alcohol. The non-drinker better have a socially acceptable reason for abstaining. Among the best is being pre-diabetic. No one wants to anticipate a diabetic coma to interrupt the fun.
If there are AAers hovering around the edges of the fun, refrain from giving them the opportunity to intervene. Well-meaning but a kind of public nuisance they will parachute in with whatever.
In that hub of commerce - Grand Central Station in Manhattan - a shrine should be built to alcohol.
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