Dating Hijinks: The Teetotaler

On Wednesdays, Amanda Chatel will be sharing stories about her strange, fascinating and sometimes wonderful dating life. If it makes you want to date, check out TheGloss dating page.

Last week I had suggested a “part two” of The French Guy situation. However, it wasn’t exactly a date, and although it will be covered in a feature very soon, we’re going to have to skip that scenario for now and cover another date from the recent past instead.

Unfortunately for me, I’m a ‘Good Time Charlie.’ I’m not really sure when the party is over, when I should be going to sleep and when my friends say they’re leaving I call for another round of shots. Any therapist will probably tell you I’m trying to avoid some unresolved issues, which may be true. However, what’s mostly true is I really love to have a good time. I like to drink too much, dance too long and only when the sun starts to come up do I realize that maybe I should switch over to water and go for breakfast. Although I am trying to put this part of my life behind me because no one wants to wake up and be 35 or 40 or 50 and still getting drunk like a 22-year-old. According to my sister that’s sad — emphasis on “according to my sister.”

So since most, if not all of my friends, are well aware of my reckless behavior, I assume that if they’re going to set me up with someone, it would be with a fella who can, honestly, “keep up” with my childish ways. When my friend “H” (aka. “don’t you dare use my real name”) set me up with “T,” I agreed to go out with him, although I’ve realized my friends know absolutely nothing about what type of fellas I like. It was more of a boredom thing and a change of pace. I was also sick of “grown-up” girlfriends going home by 11pm and then having to resort to debauchery on my own. I’m not married, I don’t have babies so I’m not going home at 11pm — I’m just going out at 11pm. The idea of a fella who could possibly play all night with me was refreshing and all of a sudden a novelty now that my previous partner in crime jumped ship. T suggested we meet at d.b.a., a bar on First Avenue. I have had a decent amount of dates at d.b.a. because it’s literally a half block from my apartment and I’m all about convenience.

I walked in and spotted T immediately. Both he and H had informed me of his “ginge” status and he looked exactly like the photo I had been shown. He was cute in that way that men who have to wear suits to work are cute. He had loosened his tie and unbuttoned the top button on his shirt, and was relaxing quite comfortably at the bar with what looked to be a Long Island iced tea. I ordered my standard beer — a Sierra Nevada — and proceeded to try to break the ice. Small talk ensued and we chatted about such fascinating things like the weather, his job and my love affair with my bed.

When I ordered another beer, he ordered another iced tea. I looked at him confused. “You’re just drinking tea?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I don’t drink.” I immediately assumed AA because I have a few friends who, despite their young age, were already recovering alcoholics; and I admired their ability, especially in social situations, to stick to their new lease on life. But no, there was no AA in his past. He just didn’t drink, and not only that, but he had never even had a taste.

“How could you get through four years of college and not have had a single drop?” I asked, once again extremely confused.

“I just don’t like to be out of control,” was his answer. When he had a hard day, he had iced tea; preferably something herbal, but d.b.a. didn’t have any herbal teas from which to choose. Knowing that there was probably no future between a man and myself who wouldn’t even engage in a sip of champagne on our wedding day, I proceeded to order another beer. Three beers, slowly, over a few hours when your body has had a chance to process it isn’t much. And although there would not be a second date, I didn’t think it was appropriate to get drunk, or even tipsy for that matter.

But it was after I ordered that third beer that he so kindly pointed out: “You drink a lot, huh?” I looked at him the same way I look at my sister when she inquires about my third glass of wine at a kid’s birthday party. It’s a look that’s halfway between annoyance and ‘shut the hell up.’

“I do on occasion, yes. But three beers is hardly ‘a lot’ of drinking.” He shrugged, obviously judging me and we continued our conversation that was now strained and, in my opinion, boring. It was when I ordred the fourth beer that he asked me if I knew what I was doing to my body and the realities of alcoholism. All things of which I am very much aware thanks to the mandatory D.A.R.E. program we all had to take in junior high school. I thanked him for the information and resolved to finish that beer in a timely yet mature manner so I could get the hell out there. But before I left him with his iced tea he did question why H had set us up. The only answer I could offer was that she, being newly in love, was trying to spread the joy — or something.

So I did the only thing one can do after a disappointing date: I went home, turned on my record player and danced until the sadness was gone. That tends to fix things more often than not.

Share This Post:
    • jen

      Oh honey. This sounds so familiar. The looks, the comments, the “Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” comments…

      I’m a recovering alcoholic. It sucks, but there it is. I’m not saying you’re an alcoholic or ever will be, but just… just take care. And pay attention.

    • S

      Jesus, 4 beers and you’re an alcoholic?

      Look, everyone is so goddamned eager to immediately diagnose alcoholism that it’s absolutely deranged. 3-4 beers over 3 hours isn’t even enough to get your BAC above .08.

      Amanda, fuck this guy and fuck rando internet people who cluck and sound concerned. I wonder often if these people have ever been to an AA meeting and heard what bottom was from real alcoholics, because I have to think that some people call themselves alcoholics the way that nerds self-diagnose Aspergers. If you have a label, I’ll take it! kind of mentality.

      this guy sounds like a total dildo.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Agreed, love! I know true alcoholics – my grampy was one – 4 beers during three hours isn’t one. Four beers in 30 minutes, 6 times a day, everyday, 365 days a year… well, then I’ll consider “help.”

        I will be a “Good Time Charlie” until I’m forced to grow up!

    • S in the ME

      I dated a guy for several months who didn’t drink for religious reasons. As someone who enjoys (more than) a few drinks on my nights out, and who is certainly not religious, I knew from the beginning it wasn’t a long-term match.

      However, he was refreshingly non-judgmental about drinking. All of his friends drank, and any time we went out as a group he would drink whatever everyone was else was having, sans alcohol (if we had a bottle of vodka at the table, for example, he’d simply pour himself one of the mixers). One would never know he wasn’t drinking; he could get in ‘the mood’ as well as anyone else. Plus, the whole group had a designated driver for the way home! The only time it ever proved an inconvenience was when people at other tables would try to send him shots (his family has quite high social standing in the country, so he’s quite well known and respected). Trying to graciously turn down a shot from a guy so plastered he’s buying other guys shots is, well, a bit of a wrestling match of sorts.

      Despite the very obvious incompatibilities, the reason I continued dating him for a while was because, unlike your dear ‘T’ character, he never framed the situation in a way that focused on my choice to drink. Rather, he chose to abstain, and that was HIS choice, not the other way around.

    • Nancy

      That guy sounds like a judgmental jerk! He suggests you meet at a bar and then gives you crap for having a few beer. Screw ‘em

    • eva

      Sorry, and I don’t agree with his being judgmental but it takes strength of character not to drink in today’s society, and it’s better for your body. It also allows you to enjoy other aspects about being out, like knowing that you enjoyed someone’s company really, truly, without the haze of alcohol affection your interactions.
      Just like you shouldn’t be judged for your choice to drink (although honestly, I wouldn’t have kept drinking if my date wasn’t) he shouldn’t be judged for abstaining. I enjoy both.