I just got home from a work dinner–30 people in a small, loud room. It lasted forever. I knew walking in that I wasn’t in the mood, and seeing the trays of white wine and champagne circulating felt like a slap in the face. Surprising because I so rarely have a real urge to drink these days, yet stepping into that room with so many people I knew I had to be introduced to and chat up, I wanted a big glass of cold Viognier so much. Felt almost like a freak not having a wineglass in hand. I can’t do this, I thought. Actually considered making an excuse and leaving, even texted my husband that I might (“I’m the only one not drinking!”). But I didn’t. This is good practice for your muscles, I told myself. And if an uncomfortable dinner is your biggest complaint, your life is okay. I stayed.
It still sucked, but sometimes things suck, right? I said my hellos, made my party chat, laughed at the right times, but I was also deep inside myself watching everything around me. A few people got drunk and loud and talked incessantly about themselves (my god, the stories I could tell you). Others had a cocktail and a glass of wine or two, spread out over several hours. (I spent a little time thinking about how much I hate people who are able to do that; hopefully no one noticed me glowering.) And contrary to my panicked text, I saw that a few other people weren’t drinking at all. I realized at some point that drinking wouldn’t have made the night much better; it would have loosened my tongue a bit, but really, who cares? Waiting in the valet line [which was filled with obviously tipsy drivers) later on, it felt so good to be cool-headed and clear and headed home to a pineapple-shrub-and-soda and the new Best American Short Stories. A bad night sober still beats a bad night drunk, hands down.