I'm a TEETOTALER, those who know me from way back in the mid 90s to the earlier years of the 00s will know that this was not always the case. Way back then, especially as a young reporter whose office was conveniently located in Bangsar (everybody's favourite watering hole), I spent many 'happy hours' trawling the many interesting joints located along Telawi1 and Telawi2.
My students days in Australia were also quite a delight, alcohol was so......cheap! We Malaysian students were constantly gushing about this.
So as you can see, the 'culture of drinking' is not one that is foreign to me. Being the proverbial observer that I am, and also because I was always "never that high", there were many things that I observed about human nature in those dimly-lit smoked filled joints where glasses were raised literally every second of an hour.
I'm not gonna start by saying that intoxication does strange things to people, because that's something most of us are aware of, c'mon, who has not come across a gibbering drunk at one time or another. Even those who don't frequent pubs would have come across a misbehaving uncle or relative at some family function.
What I'm talking about is the - cool factor associated with the consumption of alcohol. There are many people out there for whom alcohol is water. They don't give two hoots about the setting, it's the drink that matters. And if it's cheap, all the better! You will find them at coffee shops guzzling beer or at dinghy watering holes, having their 'regular whiskey.' At some point or another, their liver will start to complain, but I'm not going to go into that.
There's this notion that people who drink are cool, and those who don't are rather strait-laced. Drinking is also associated with fitting-in, if you go drinking with your work buddies or college mates you're cool, and if you don't you aren't cool or not one of them.
Those who make it known that they are not into drinking, not used to it etc, will constantly be ribbed about it. They will constantly be told that they need to loosen up, or not be so....afraid, coz it won't kill them.
The culture in Drinking-Zone
So it's pretty obvious that the non-drinkers will always get it bad from those who do. However among fellow drinkers too, there are several behavioural norm that has never failed to rub me up the wrong way. When you're at a table in a social setting with several friends, acquaintances, there will always be one person at the table who sees it as their duty to ensure that everyone else 'drinks-up'. Naturally these Joes' don't get the point that not all of us drink like a fish, and that some of us just like sipping our drink a little at a time.
This particular variant of a person will also insist on ordering more drinks for everyone, however they won't always offer to pick up the tab. Oh and if there are pretty girls at the table, they will make it a point to keep forcing these pretty ones to keep drinking. Pretty pathetic huh? Considering most of us know where this would lead to if the girl/girls actually keep drinking.
Being 'high' is not funny
Have you ever been out with friends, where some people in the group keep saying that they wanna get you 'high'. For anyone who has ever been 'high' you would know what being 'high' will cost you the next morning. At the risk of sounding like the biggest party-pooper in Christendom, people who are your true friends will not want you to puke all over yourself or into a toilet bowl, be so intoxicated that you need help getting home and the list goes on.
Being drunk is no fun at all. Plus not being in control of yourself or your faculties can be a very dangerous thing. And I don't see the logic of forking out all that money on alcohol so that you can feel terrible the next day.
You're a teeto......what??
When you're a non-Muslim and don't come from a very traditional background. A lot of people tend to do a double-take when you tell them that you don't drink. Some will actually ask why? And some would venture further to ask if my reasons were religious in nature. Only religious people don't drink is it?? Must one have a reason not to drink alcohol? Some actually have the cheek to say: " You don't know what you're missing" Well I know, and I'm glad of it.
I have no issues with people who drink and enjoy it, puking into toilet bowls and all notwithstanding. But I do find it highly patronising when people actually venture to ask why someone doesn't drink, or force more drinks down the throat of someone who is not too comfortable with consuming more than a certain amount of alcohol.
When you do stuff like that, it just means that you're plain rude and have no respect for people and their values. Plus I don't see how drinking or smoking amps up a person's cool factor at all.
The real cool people are the ones who aren't afraid to be themselves and stand up for their values, even if it means drinking water when everyone else are drinking the 'cool stuff'.
End of rant.........