What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
I will be honest. Lately, everything that gets you properly sauced looks really fun to me.
I have zero intentions of partaking, but I'm sharing this with you because I absolutely get the appeal -- especially over the holidays when a drink understandably takes the edge off for millions and millions of people around you. The last few weeks, I have even had the most elaborate three-part dreams wherein I drink martinis, smoke cigarettes, and wile the hours away on rooftops with a friendly zombie version of John Oliver (yes, this was one actual dream: please dissect).
But when I am awake and functioning in the world, I'm -- thankfully, for my four-plus years of sobriety -- able to say "no thanks" to drink after drink that gets passed my way. Even during the holidays. Even when people give me the side-eye. Even when my own father asks me to help him pick out a bottle of wine (it happened) and toasts me with wine as I sit there, incredibly uncomfortable.
Jim Beam has been comical in the amount of emails they have sent me trying to get me to do shooters or shots or something in the office (no worries, Jim, I know you're just doing your job), and it's made me think about how during the holidays the pressure to drink is even higher than it normally is.
Recently, I went out to a dinner with five guys where I was the only chick and one of the dudes was a producer on my favorite show on HBO, and they went through about three bottles of wine, and I felt like a leper, but you know what? I didn't drink! And I had a great time. And it was a better time than if I had drank.
Why? Because in the long run, I always have a better time not drinking. That's just me. I overdo everything. I overdo a piece of Swiss cheese. If I want a piece of Swiss cheese, I will import 700 pounds of Swiss cheese because that sounds like a great idea to my brain and maybe never enough will finally be enough if I get all of it and eat all the Swiss in one sitting.
I like to do things. I like to go big or go home. And thankfully, I know this about myself, so when I see everyone clinking glasses and bonding in the warm fleshy glow that multiple bottles of wine provides, I can calmly assure myself: "Good girl, Mandy." (My internal voice is creepy and trying to get in my pants by preying on my daddy issues.) "You're being selfish in taking care of yourself. You are drunk on sobriety! How fun!"
And it sounds ridiculous, but it is true. I've felt more high and elated and on fire the last few years being sober than I ever did being drunk. Being drunk for an alcoholic can feel -- how can I put this best? -- like sucking on Satan's dick. Which obviously has its appeal, but most of the time it's more fun to, I don't know, make out with an angel. I should be a life coach. My analogies are that good.
Okay, here are my secrets, friends. We can do it! And also: If you want to drink, party it up, my friends in PR over at Edelman sending me the Jim Beam emails! Mazel tov! I am totally pro-drinking for those who do not have the same issues I do in importing a ridiculous amount of Swiss cheese.
Secret #1: "I'm on antibiotics."
An oldie but a goodie, this is is the sure-fire little white lie that can save even the most horrendous of awkwardly awkward situations. Say you are out on a date with Drake. And Drake orders a $5,000 bottle of champagne and says, "Tonight, I'm going to pour this all over your body and down your sexy throat and watch as it spills down your face because I don't know if you can take it all in your sweet little mouth as we celebrate the spirit of Christmas together."
What do you say? As you lick your lips and coquettishly wink at him in that come hither way of yours? You say, thrusting your cleavage ever slightly forward: "I'm on antibiotics." But you say it like you just said, "I can't wait until you're inside me." See? Anything can be sexy if you say it in the right way!
My point being: No one really cares at the end of the day if you drink the damn alcohol.
In this situation, Drake is interested in your hot bod and that smoking hot brain of yours, and he doesn't really care if you actually have the champagne flow over your mouth in a kind of naughty entendre way that implies sex stuff is happening. It's just not his top priority.
But let's be real. So say Drake is like, "Antibiotics? What the hell? Are you sick? I don't mess with sick bitches." No problemo. Because then you'll be like, "No, it's for chin acne, silly." And then the two of you will passionately embrace and cuddle the rest of the night away, sharing your hopes and dreams and exactly what the Christmas spirit means to you.
Okay, maybe Drake and the champagne pouring down your throat was not the best example in the world, but my main point is that "antibiotics" as an excuse always works.
Say you're out with a hot charlatan doctor who looks like Brad Pitt or whoever you think is hot (I've discovered that if you're 23, and you say "Brad Pitt" as a pretty-boy benchmark, the 23-year-old will screw up her face and look at you like you are 1,500 years old). Now -- stay with me -- say this hot charlatan doctor says to you: "Dude, I'm a doctor, and you're absolutely fine having just one drink. Really, it's no biggie. It's just one drink." And he's really pushy and weird.
Just think of your unwillingness to give in as a cute "Oh, I'm so fiery and independent" kind of thing you're doing. Like, "No, no, no," naughty, naughty, waggy finger. You wouldn't jump off a cliff just because some sexy charlatan doctor told you to, would you? Nope. And that's the same reason you don't have to drink with pushy-ass guys during the holidays. Because you're on antibiotics. Period. Pass the virgin eggnog and tell me about your time on "Degrassi." Next.
Secret #2: "I'm on a cleanse."
What? How annoying. During the holidays? Who are you and what kind of a monster are we dealing with here? Well, honestly, who cares?
What people don't realize is that everyone else is too busy thinking about themselves. Any rude, inquisitive, all-up-in-your-business people who don't understand why you can't have a thimble of whiskey as part of your wheatgrass diet will pretty soon be hammered themselves and have completely forgotten about your reason for not drinking in the first place.
Just remember: Everyone loves it when you agree with them.
"Come on, one drink."
"I'm on a cleanse. It sucks. I can't."
"Just one, though?"
"Cleanse won't let me. Wish I could. Boo."
"Then do it."
"I know! I really should. It's ridiculous. You're so right. UGH."
Then smile. Swirl your lemon in your seltzer. And repeat.
Secret #3: "I have a business meeting at 8 a.m."
Even the most hardy of partiers understand the nightmare that is the early next-day business meeting and the necessity of not being the least bit hungover. As you get a glass of white wine handed to you at your annual holiday office party, and a coworker suspiciously doesn't believe your 8 a.m. meeting excuse -- because, well, the two of you work together, there's no problem. You just lie! It's so easy. "Oh the meeting? Yeah, it's not with you guys. It's for the charity board I'm on."
Then you call your friend and say that you want to form a charity for helping "the children." Boom. It stopped being a lie. Everyone wins.
Secret #4: "I'm in a contest to see who can go the longest without drinking over the holidays."
How wacky! What is this, a multicamera sitcom? There is nothing more affable than a good bet or a contest or some other ridiculous competitive notion that involves deprivation and humiliation.
Say you get challenged. "Yeah but how will anyone know?" Go with either the steely-eyed grin: "Trust me, my friend will know" or "It's an integrity thing."
Oh, also don't forget to call up that friend who you started your bogus charity with and inform them that they are now also in a bogus contest with you to see who can go without drinking the longest. Even if your friend is slamming a 40 when you call, this will still work. You'll just win quicker. No one will be the wiser.
Secret #5: "I'm good."
Oooh, who doesn't like a good mystery? Have you ever tried seeing how much you can get away with by simply saying nothing and letting people sink in their own miserable uncomfortable silence? Smile wryly. Say, "I'm good," and offer no justification, no excuse, no reason whatsoever as to why you are declining a nice cold beer. If your interrogator gets upset and you maintain your composure, you will simply make the other person look more and more ridiculous while you look more and more legend by the second.
"What, are you an alcoholic?"
Wry smile. "Trust me. I'm good."
"You owe me an explanation! Why won't you drink?"
Sexy shrug. "I'm good."
Do you see how genius this move is?
Secret #6: "I have to drive."
It doesn't matter if you live in New York. It doesn't matter if you have never driven in your life. You might have to drive...someday. Theoretically. You won't be lying. Besides, if people are that nosy at a holiday party where they can't have fun getting their drink on without you doing it with them, honesty is the last thing they deserve. Anyone who pressures someone else into drinking (oh and I've done that before -- so let me say for the record: I AM SO SORRY TO ANYONE I WAS A TOTAL JERK TO) is a jerk, plain and simple. Don't sweat them.
Secret #7: "I'm still recovering from last night."
Oh, the wonderful tale of trying to rally after a bender during the holidays. Everyone gets it. Everyone has been there. And everyone understands why you are currently making out with the water cooler in the corner.
Those are my go-to's.
Although, obviously, I'm a weirdo who has no problem just saying: "I'm sober."
"I'm happier now."
"But you had a problem?"
"I guess it depends who you ask, but in the sense of how unhappy I was, definitely."
And on and on and on. Man do people want to know your business. It's kind of cute. Happy holidays! Let's get that ginger ale popping!
Find Mandy long-form at http://tinyurl.com/stadtmiller.