DO | My Relationship With Alcohol

I am probably not the most interesting person to be writing a column about alcohol. I turned 21 this past summer while overseas, so I didn’t have my first drink until about a month after my birthday. My parents gathered a small array of drinks for me to try — beer, whiskey, vodka soda and distilled motor fuel, AKA soju — and at last, my eyes and tongue were opened to the hellish world of intoxicants. Other than the vodka soda, I managed about two sips of each drink before tapping out. To me, unflavored soju, along with whiskey, tastes like what I can only describe as a crime against my very sense of taste.

I’ve since tried a small handful of drinks that I thought were stomachable, although I don’t make an effort to seek out alcohol. I’ve certainly never craved the taste of anything alcoholic, and I’ve never consumed enough in one sitting to feel any kind of buzz. The only draw I’ve ever felt to drinking is when I’m with a small group of friends and we want to pretend like our lives are actually difficult enough to warrant a cold beer at the end of a long day, and even that is a silly reason to drink if it’s only the aesthetic that’s appealing. If our goal isn’t to get drunk, then we might as well just drink juice while punching each other in the stomach for a similar experience.

Before I turned 21, I didn’t want to be fearful of drinking, as if one sip would send my life into ruin, but I also knew that it wasn’t something to take lightly. Alcohol(ism) has had a profound impact on my family, so while I wouldn’t say I grew up villainizing it, my perception has always been painted by the emotional (and physical) scars that my family carries. I don’t have any big qualms with just drinking at a legal age, but drunkenness is a line that I’ll never cross and that I don’t think anyone should.