wine-glass "You don't drink?"

You'd think alcohol consumption was a personal choice -- so why is that question always asked with such disdain?

Last week, one of our bloggers wrote about "the pregnant pause": Though normally a social drinker, she waved away a glass of champagne at her best friend's engagement dinner due to her developing embryo -- only to be met with silent stares. Not wanting to disclose her pregnancy or steal her best friend's thunder, she flailed to find an excuse for turning down alcohol.

While readers weighed in with suggestions on avoiding the non-drinking issue, from disguising a soda water as a vodka tonic, to lying about being the designated driver, a bigger question emerged: Pregnant or not, why is it so wrong for someone not to want to drink?

As Rachel Kramer Bussel pointed out, perhaps the issue in this situation is less about pregnancy, more about our misguided attitudes concerning alcohol. She says, "I despise the 'You don't drink?' question when meeting new people. It seems to come with a tinge of 'What the f**k is wrong with you?' Maybe I'm projecting, but still, it definitely comes with a tinge of, 'You are not like the rest of us.' I mean, really -- pregnant or not, can we just drink or not drink on any given night and not have it be a BFD?"

For most of us, four years in college doesn't exactly lend itself to an alcohol-abstaining culture. Lena Chen says, "There is definitely a 'drinking culture' among college students and young adults, in that bars are a default meeting place and drinking is a default weekend and post-work social activity." She adds, "I think people come across as a bit judge-y toward non-drinkers, because my refusal of alcohol could be construed as a condemnation of their decision to drink."

That misconstruction is entirely understandable. Maria Diaz says, "I'm a drinker ... I will admit to feeling weird around people who don't drink or who don't drink as much as I do. So, you know, SORRY! But it's much more about my insecurities about how the non-drinker is judging me because sometimes, they are. Or, in times when I haven't been drinking, I know that I'm annoyed by drunk people."

And if people give you crap for your choice not to drink, says Amber L. Rhea, "I always reference a comedian whose name I can't even remember now but who once did a routine on how people don't act all weird about anything else the way they do about alcohol. People don't go, 'You don't use mayonnaise? Why? Are you addicted to mayonnaise? Is it OK if I use mayonnaise?'"

Tell us! If you don't drink, do you find that people judge you for it --
like you have to explain yourself? And, if you do drink, do you silently judge other people who don't?

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