By Marques Moore
It’s a somewhat strange experience living in Columbia at times. To be completely honest, I’m aware of the fact that a lot of the reason for that on my end has to do with the fact that I am and have always been a bit of a misfit.
I can accept that because frankly, I like me. But that doesn’t change facts, and there is one undeniable fact about this town. Columbia is a drinking town with a mild football addiction.
My interest in football is tepid at best, but I don’t drink at all. As mentioned in my bio, I am Straight-Edge.* That means I don’t drink, don’t smoke, or use any form of recreational drug. You can imagine that being Straight-Edge in such a setting draws a lot of questions whenever you go out to a bar or any given event. I assure you that I get a lot of them every other time I’m in a public place or meeting anyone new. For whatever reason, I get offered drinks from time-to-time and then I have to explain my rejection of the offer. When that happens, I usually hear the same question no matter the context…
“How do you do it?”
Well…Cost-efficiently? No, I know that what these people are really asking is how do I manage to enjoy myself? How do I deal with being the only sober guy in the room at times? How do I deal with the many curves that life has in store without at least a mild buzz? This has never been an easy question to answer, honestly. I usually respond with an “I don’t know” or “I just do.” I guess I’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t even think about it. But if anything, that goes to show that it is entirely plausible that you don’t need a drink in your hand to enjoy yourself in Columbia.
Don’t be ashamed. There are a lot of things I had to get used to once I decided to stick with this particular lifestyle. Sure, I described Columbia as a drinking town but the truth is people are going to question you on why it is you don’t drink wherever you go. You’re not really obligated to answer, but more to the point, your answer doesn’t have to suit or comfort anyone but you.
Don’t be so f**king aggressive. I have known too many people to identify as Straight-Edge, and wear it like an obnoxious badge of honor. Worse, some even look down on others for drinking and are more vocal than necessary about it (read: commenting on it at all). You don’t want anyone thumbing their nose at you, so don’t be that guy or girl. And if you ever were, don’t be that person anymore. It just makes you asshole.
Don’t be a poser. You’re not winning any brownie-points by proclaiming that you don’t drink. Believe me. And if you’re only saying it to garner some respect or offers of free booze, congrats on gaming the system…but you’re scum.
Don’t be readily defined. This is the biggest one because I’ve long since realized that the answer to “How do I do it?” is in the 3rd sentence of this entry. I’m me, and I’m okay with that. I’m not solely defined by the fact that I don’t drink any more than someone else is defined by the fact that they do. I like movies, karaoke, meeting people, talking to friends old and new, live music, art, etc.. And I can enjoy all these things and more because of who I am and my sensibilities.
How do you enjoy yourself in a “drinking town” when you don’t drink? You go out and find what you enjoy, and enjoy the hell out of it! You already know what that is, so go do it! And if you need a few sips to take the edge off…No one’s judging you. Except douchebags, but they’re no fun.
*–I’m not extreme about it, so don’t do anything crazy like refuse to give me medication.