Teetotalling month

September marks the beginning of the autumn conference season. And that also means: beers in the last break! beers and wines on the closing parties!

I don’t need any of that alcohol. So I decided to make September my alcohol free month.

I had already experimented with this last year, where I didn’t drink any alcohol during the entirety of March. Mind you, it’s not like I’m a frequent drinker. But even then, occasions would arise, and I got “the weird look” more than once when I said I was not drinking alcohol:

“Are you OK?”


“Are you taking any medication?”

“Are you pregnant?”

The fact that we assume that people are not OK, that there has to be a reason and we are entitled to know why, or which medication are they taking or what’s the status of their reproductive system in order to perpetuate the ways of this alcohol-fuelled-society is quite worrying.

On my first week of abstinence, I witnessed how a person who cannot drink beer because they are coeliac was asked three times in a row, by three different people, why they were not drinking. I was cringing, but happy to be supporting them by standing there, empty-handed. I have also had to justify myself in two different events, in less than a week.

I invite you to try this 🙂

Or if you want to take it to the next level, Lifeboats (a UK charity) are running their H2Only challenge–something similar but where you only drink water for 10 days. You can estimate and donate the cost of the drinks you would have drank otherwise.

2 Replies to “Teetotalling month”

  1. I dunno. If it were me doing this, and people asked me why, I’d think it simply natural curiosity. Nothing presumptuous, entitled, nosy, etc.

    People like to get to know each other better. Asking questions about semi-distinctive behavior, where the answer may possibly hinge on personal philosophy, seems like a fine way to do that. This post itself, even, seems like a great example of how this can be true.

    I’ll grant that some of the queries as to why are, depending on the person being asked, slightly more probing than absolutely required to merely satisfy curiosity and incrementally develop a connection. But we humans look for patterns in life; we try to rationalize the world around us. Off-the-cuff inquiries, that incidentally imply a prediction, are consistent with that. And ultimately, the person being asked is always free to decline to answer. (And I think most people would say, if the answer happens to be in any way private and the person’s not comfortable sharing the answer, they should decline to answer. That is, “If for any reason you’re uncomfortable answering, feel free not to answer” is an implicit part of any question that’s even faintly probing — especially with more-or-less-casual conference acquaintances.)

    It doesn’t seem to me that most people asking questions believe they deserve an answer. Just that the person is likely to be willing to provide one. Of course it’s possible to misjudge. But I suspect the fraction of people perfectly willing to answer the question is great enough, that I’m not sure I can fault someone too much if they end up mistaken, regarding this particular issue.

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