Someone once called me a “square” at a party. I responded with, “Oh yeah? Do you know how many of my friends do drugs?” The number didn’t persuade him otherwise. Being part of the Chicago comedy scene means I go to a lot of parties (not trying to brag, but yeah…sometimes I’m even invited). A lot of these parties involve drugs and alcohol. Sorry–ALL of these parties involve drugs and alcohol.
I have been sober for 24 years. I’m also 24 years old, so if you took AP calculus, you’ll be able to calculate that that’s my whole life. It would be a better story if I were 25 and wasn’t sober for one year when I was 12, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
I was just the type of person who was told once that drinking and drugs were bad, and then never touched the stuff. I even made “never do drugs” pacts with my friends in middle school. I’m the only one that kept up my end of the deal.
To be 100% transparent, I have had alcohol before. But I’ve never had enough to get me drunk, or even tipsy. Just enough to realize sudoku is more my speed (the pace and the drug). But I still thoroughly enjoy socializing, even if I’m the only sober person present.
A lot of people ask me what it’s like to be the only sober person at a party, or as one friend put it: “What’s it like knowing you’re the only person who has no desire to try drugs?” I’m sure others exist out there, but it’s definitely rare in the comedy scene, unless you used to have a drinking/drug problem (in which case I’m happy to be your sober buddy at a party).
Parties aren’t that weird for me. Sober partying is all I’ve ever known, so I have nothing to compare it to. Unless you count the times my blood sugar got really low or really high at a party. Just like most third graders can get though a party without vodka, so can I.
People say alcohol is liquid courage, so it surprises them I can go to parties without it. But the thing is, alcohol isn’t just liquid courage for the person drinking it. When everyone around me is drunk, I’m pretty confident in my ability to hold a conversation, stay standing, and send a coherent text. Being the most put-together person in a room is all the courage I need. I can even use a key to unlock a door, which to a bunch of drunk people, is pretty incredible.
I’ve gotten a few embarrassing drunk texts from friends confessing their love for me, which they then profusely apologize for the next day. I have never had to apologize for a text I sent because I was just too sober and thinking too clearly the night before. That’s not to say I’ve never sent texts I later regretted; it’s just never been because I was too sober.
But my sobriety has definitely led to awkward nights. A couple years ago I went to a friend’s house for a small party. It started at midnight. It soon became 2, 4, then 6, and pretty soon it was 8:00. I didn’t want to be the lame one to go home before everyone else. I was prying my eyes open, trying to understand how no one else was falling asleep. People were up and chatting a mile a minute. Turns out everyone else was on cocaine, which I have since learned keeps you awake. I was relying on pure charisma to stay alert and fun.
It helps that I act drunk on a regular basis, especially when everyone around me is drunk. It’s like I subconsciously develop a drunk accent when I hang around enough drunk people. I have actually made dumber choices than my friends when I was sober and they were drunk.
Just on Friday I injured my leg at a party because I sat and fell off a side table. I once took the train home with my drunk friend for 10 minutes before HE realized we were going the wrong way. A few months ago I had to pick up my drunk friend from a bar, and managed to cry while talking to security and then yelling at 40 patrons: “You guys are fucking assholes! ALL OF YOU!” My friend was completely unfazed and just kept telling me how crazy the world is, and then once back at our hotel, told me I should stay at the bar and have fun, not realizing we had already ubered back to our hotel.
People ask why I don’t drink. I don’t have one specific reason. I have a lot of little reasons: I don’t want to feel out of control, it’s tricky to drink when you’re diabetic, it’s expensive, and I could like it and develop a problem. Not to mention, drinking has a pretty bad PR team. I’ve never heard of someone who woke up after a night of drinking to say: “Wow. I’m so glad I got shit-faced last night.” It would maybe be weird that I didn’t drink if there were no downsides to it. If it were free, good for you, and gave you killer spelling ability. But I’ve never had a hangover, and since Zach Galifianakis is in 3 movies about them, I imagine they’re not fun.
So, next time you see me at a party, yes I’m sober. Yes, I’m having a good time despite the fact that I’m playing sudoku on my phone. No, it’s not “so weird” being sober at a party. But you do, however, have very bad breath, and could work on maintaining personal space. Now please go breathe on someone your own size.
Filed under: Stand-up Comedy