10 Stupid Things People Say When You’re Sober
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10 Stupid Things People Say When You’re Sober


This post was originally published on January 27, 2015.

When I came across a list on Cosmo of things not to say to someone who doesn’t do drugs, at first I felt like it was a bit ludicrous. I mean, no one has ever said to me about a drug, “Why not? Here! Try!” I was always more than willing. People just don’t try to push molly on me anymore, possibly because I got sober in my (late) 30s and I had kind of already hung up my whistle and my glow sticks. But they have said some silly things. Oh yes, they have. So here’s my own list of things people have said to this sober person.

1) “So, what do you do in those classes?”

“They’re not going to make me do arts and crafts, right? Because I hate arts and crafts.” No, mama, there will be none of that, but who hates arts and crafts? Arts and crafts are awesome. You know who loves arts and crafts? The person who said this to me, now that she is a year sober.

2) “You quit drinking? That’s okay, you can still have wine.”

Like my sobriety is a low budget wedding or a restaurant without a liquor license? Like wine is just juice that’s been sitting out on the counter a little too long? Yeah, doesn’t work that way.

3) “You can’t toast with water. It’s bad luck.”

Bad luck for whom? If this marriage doesn’t make it, it’s more likely because just this morning the groom was threatening to fuck off to Thailand and not because I refused the champagne.

4) “You can have a sip. A sip won’t kill you.”

This is when I pull out my terrible Forgetting Sarah Marshall Russell Brand impersonation and say, “If I have just one sip of wine, I’ll be rimming waiters for a crack rock.” Is this true? I don’t know. I did wake up next to the Thai food delivery guy once, so you know, I’m good. Like, I’m over the experiment.

5) “So, you’re never going to drink again? Ever?”

Hey man, I have no idea how to answer this question, I don’t even know what I’m going to have for breakfast. I just don’t think it’s going to be scotch.

6) “You don’t look like an alcoholic.”

Actually, when I first quit drinking, I looked like a total disaster. Way worse than I did when I was drinking hard cider on Sunday mornings—at the gym—where I worked. I did, in fact, get fat, just like Nicole Richie implied I would. I quit my job. I stopped showering. I cried all the time. I couldn’t leave the house without a Costco sized bag of candy. I found out that getting sober could look like an old grocery bag full of dog shit. But it’s not forever. Sobriety cracks your sugar-coated shell, exposing the brown of your insides. Slowly you realize that yeah, it looks like shit, but it starts to taste like chocolate and you come out stronger on the other side. Can’t decide if this analogy is disgusting or delicious? Well then, my work is done.

7) “You can still smoke weed, right?”

Well, yeah. I guess I could also mainline heroin, but it feels a little counterintuitive.

8) “The culinary experience is just so much better with the wine pairing.”

The problem here is that I happen to agree with you. But I just can’t prove that anymore. Because see number four.

9) “So, when are you going to be better?”

Like there’s an end date to this whole personal growth thing. Like there’s a certification I can apply for, or a doctor’s examination that I can pass so we can all celebrate with a glass of Chianti and some fava beans. Alas, no.

10) “I know you don’t drink, but it’s okay if I have a beer, right?” or “I only have a couple of beers with dinner.”

I honestly don’t care what you drink; I’m the alcoholic, not you. And saying you only drink with food is irrelevant. Or that you don’t go to the bars anymore. Or that you “came down with something” over the long weekend and that’s why you had to spend three extra days in bed. Don’t shut me out, bro! How you run your life is your own business. Who cares what I think? I’ve been kicked out of a strip club! Twice! Will I judge you? Probably, because, duh. How else can I feel superior? I’m kind of a disaster. But at the same time, I don’t have a lot of boundaries, so your couple of beers really doesn’t bother me. Sneaking off to the restroom at dinner to do lines of cocaine off the back of the toilet seat? I’ll probably be the one wiping the lipstick off of your front teeth in abject mortification—not because I’m ashamed of you, but because there, but for the sober days since, go I.

Photo courtesy of appolinar (russell brand doing comedy) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons (resized and cropped)

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About Author

Amanda Fletcher is the PEN America Emerging Voices Fellowship Manager. A prolific travel and freelance feature writer, her work has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Orange County Register, Coast and Hippocampus magazines, the Ignite magazine blog, FAR & WIDE and more. Originally from Canada, she lives in Los Angeles and is currently finishing her memoir, HALO.