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My View: Teetotaler tells all about life without alcohol

By Sandy McPherson Carrubba Geary

We guests at the wedding sat down before servers came with champagne for the toast. When our server reached us, I covered my glass and explained we do not drink alcohol. She continued pouring champagne for the others at our table. Then she returned to fill our glasses with sparkling grape juice. I was pleased and surprised. It felt good to join in the toast to the couple and not have to hold up my water glass as I have done at so many other events.

At our own wedding, we had sparkling grape juice served to all guests for the toast. Lots of children, including teenagers not of drinking age, were present. Since we do not drink alcoholic beverages ourselves, we found it simpler to have the non-alcoholic kind served to everyone.

There are various reasons people do not consume alcohol. In my husband’s case, he chose to stop imbibing more than 42 years ago. In my case, I am allergic to alcoholic beverages and suffer breathing problems if I have any. Many people must be careful not to have alcohol because of medications they must take. Alcohol and certain medications can be a lethal combination. Others simply don’t like the taste.

Although I cannot join beer, wine, or cocktail drinkers, I like to see them enjoying themselves. But, I have a problem because so many fundraisers for deserving organizations feature drinking alcohol. There are beer fests, wine tastings and other events that seem to stress imbibing. I feel left out and rarely attend. Often when at an event where alcohol is served, I am asked, “What is that you’re drinking?” or “Did you forget to get a glass of wine?”

By not engaging in the celebration of alcohol, I feel as though I make others uncomfortable. They cannot imagine what it feels like to experience breathing difficulties. I used to enjoy a glass of wine once in a while but finally realized that was when I could not seem to get my breath and thought I would suffocate. That’s not enjoyment. It’s panic. I could really spoil a party if I had to be taken to the hospital.

Sandy McPherson Carrubba Geary

I am content drinking water because it’s good for me. At some events I order cranberry juice and soda with a twist of lime. It looks festive, tastes delicious, and makes me feel young having a “Shirley Temple.” My husband usually has a non-alcoholic beer. We look like we are participating and can enjoy ourselves no matter how we satisfy our thirst.

Not long ago, I read in The Buffalo News that young people are starting to shy away from drinking alcohol. Major liquor companies are now perfecting non-alcoholic drinks that have cool-sounding names. I am astounded and proud that I have turned into a trend-setter. It is good to know the young people are finding it possible to have a great time without liquor involved.

There are advantages to not being a drinker: We never need a designated driver, we always remember what went on at an event, and we are in control of ourselves. We can be counted on to remember details after an evening out.

All of life involves choices. Some are forced upon us. Others we make to better ourselves. Even though we have chosen to avoid alcohol consumption, we like to see people having a good time. And we certainly know how to enjoy ourselves. My husband has been known to be the life of the party.

If you invite her to your party, Kenmore writer Sandy McPherson Carrubba Geary will bring her own water.

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