This week we have been out for several dinners. One was in a very upscale steak house in Calgary. We were there on business and took our daughter out for a great dinner. I looked around at others in the restaurant and saw that most were enjoying the culturally obligatory wine that MUST be enjoyed with a great steak. My bottle of sparkling water arrived, trumpeting the fact that this outlier would NOT in fact be having wine with her steak. Tragedy. Waste of a great steak, I know… Two women in particular could not take their eyes off of our table and I know why. I remember the curiosity/impatience/jealousy/confusion I felt when I saw someone do such a strange thing back in my drinking days. “What is the matter with that woman?” I would wonder. “How can she possibly be laughing and enjoying conversation with her dinner companions without wine???” I would be irritated. Restless. Discontented by the fact that she was not going with the crowd. She would be the last person in the room I would want to chat with, given the chance. Too real – who does life without wine???
And then we were out to dinner for business with two other women. We went to our favourite Italian restaurant and of course one woman was looking for a drinky companion to share a bottle of wine. I declined and the other woman ordered a cocktail instead. Although disappointed, she ordered her wine by the glass.She announced that one big size glass would be her limit for the evening and then when she ordered more, looked guilty doing so. I vividly remember making moves like that. A partner for sharing a bottle wound up being unnecessary as she drank the equivalent of a bottle on her own anyway.
As the evening moved on I was uncomfortable by the way she would interrupt others in mid-sentence. It was clear she was annoyed when topics moved on from herself, her dog, her life, and focussed on the other woman – who stopped at one cocktail and was delightfully interesting to talk with. Her eyes got glassy. And then bloodshot. Lately I notice that people seem to fade away the more they drink. That spark or edge that makes them uniquely who they are diminishes. And they become duller, fatigued versions of themselves at about drink three. Some get quiet. Some get loud. Some interrupt. Some repeat themselves. Almost all get sloppy.
I love being the woman who does not lose her edge no matter how late the evening gets. I love being the woman who says, “Have the port – I am happy to drive.” I love being the woman who can eat a steak or a plate full of delicious Italian pasta and fully enjoy it WITHOUT wine – gasp.