When you hear tales of legendary nights, there’s a reason that most don’t start with “Dude, I had so many root beers I didn’t know where I was,” or “You’ll never guess what happened while I was looking for a parking space!” For those of us that live in the “Oh yeah, don’t forget to have a designated driver” fine print of beer commercials, going out means a night of “I don’t know how you do it, you must be so bored.”
While popular culture would lead you to believe that teetotalers have no friends outside of Texas religious compounds, this isn’t entirely true. However, in order to make it through the weekend, non-drinkers need to be prepared.
Here are a few tips on how to make the best of a sober night:
It’s vitally important to pick a bar with alternative diversions. If you go to a place where getting totally shitfaced is the only activity, then you’re going to be left staring uncomfortably at a midget drunkenly pouring warm tequila on an entire bachelorette party while they dance on the bar. Bar dancing is one thing, but regular dancing is where it’s at if you’re sober. If they’re playing a Gloria Estefan ditty, you’ll be sufficiently intoxicated by the rhythm of the night and you won’t even notice you’re as dry as the Death Valley Temperance Society’s Tuesday bingo gatherings. (Come on, G45!!) Aside from dancing, you can also entertain yourself with pool, darts, pinball, ice chewing, ceiling-tile-counting, and various other activities that are in no way boring.
If you go out with drinkers who know you abstain, you’ll meet two divergent categories of barflies freaked out by your sobriety: there are the paranoid, apologetic drunks who are threatened by your steady gait and unslurred speech, and who cope by repeating “I’m so wasted, I’m sorry, man” ad infinitum. Then there’s the fun-loving bro who swears he’ll get you to drink before the night is through: “I’m going to get you hella wasted on brew-dogs by the time we’re done kickin’ it, fool.” You should also be prepared to hear the same stories multiple times, but give your friends a break and act like you haven’t (unless they need help with the details).
There’s always TV
If you’re stuck in a situation where talking is no longer an option, you can turn your attention to the boob tube. Chances are there will be some sporting event on, which is always a good target for mindless staring. The good news these days is that since the NBA Playoffs are on TNT, when the game is over they usually show a bad movie afterwards. For example the Danny Glover joint, “Predator 2”, was on the other night at a bar in my hometown of Chicago. Now there’s a film that has sufficient enough violence and explosions to require no sound at all. If you stay out late enough, maybe you can catch an X-Files marathon. If that’s the case, you should volunteer to be the judge in the “Take a shot whenever Mulder and Scully encounter an alien, two shots for an inbred family” drinking game.
Observe mating rituals
When you get really bored, people-watching usually does the trick to get you back on your toes. Looking around the bar, you can probably spot several dudes going one extra button down on their shirt trying to impress some girl who cuts a nice figure. Since hitting on drunk girls/guys when you’re sober is pretty unfulfilling, watching tanked dudes get turned away is the next best thing.
When you say you don’t drink, people usually look at you like you have a pair of testicles on your forehead. Because of this, you need to be prepared for the inevitable “Why the hell not?” Here are some of my favorite responses:
“I won’t drink until my wedding night.”
“I prefer my ale of the ginger variety.”
“I’m afraid of the Untouchables.”
“My ‘I Like Drunk’ and ‘Drunk? Blow here’ t-shirts are in the wash.”
These tips should help you make it through just about any night out. If you start to question your decision, just remember what Frank Sinatra used to say: “I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day.” Well, at least you’ll be able to get up in the morning.