To fake it or not to fake it?

Yesterday, I made what was apparently a really big faux pas. While at an offsite event in Miami, I decided not to drink for the night. I know, the horror, right? But judging by how many times people asked me to explain again why I wasn’t drinking, you’d think I had committed some unforgivably rude and terrible act. I started out by explaining I wasn’t in the mood (truth), and then switched to saying I’d decided to start Alcohol-Free August early (basically truth, since I knew I wasn’t going to want to drink Tuesday night either, and then it would be August). However, no matter what I said, people kept teasing me or asking me again in seeming disbelief if I was really not drinking. Because God forbid we have a business dinner and not all need alcohol to make it through the night!

It’s not that I don’t understand the appeal of drinking. Some nights I am desperately craving a glass of red wine with my dinner, and other nights I think it would just be so much fun to feel the tequila buzz from some sweet and sour frozen margaritas (calories be damned). But some nights, I am just not in the mood for either of those things – and I don’t think that should require a detailed explanation.

Angrily tweeting out my frustration, I got a few interesting suggestions from friends. Jocelyn suggested getting a seltzer and pretending it was a vodka tonic. Seltzer is my non-alcoholic drink of choice anyway (either that or water; I don’t drink milk, juice or soda), so it’s certainly an easy suggestion. Other suggestions from friends seemed to be centered around the same false pretenses (e.g., “just say your doctor won’t let you have alcohol”), including my absolute favorite of the bunch, “pretend that you’re pregnant!” That would solve more problems than just one – if I were pregnant, presumably I could stop flying and stay home for more than three days at a time. Pregnancy: the cause of, and solution to, all life’s problems!

While many of these excuses could conceivably work, they also just got me incredibly frustrated. Why should I have to pretend anything? Why is a simple “I don’t feel like drinking” not good enough? Or even better, “I’m not drinking tonight because I value my health”? (Aside from the fact that putting it that way sounds incredibly condescending and judgmental). But if anything, I would think that staying sober and going to bed early should be looked at as a good thing – that just means I’m a heck of lot more productive at work the next day. Instead, I feel like my attempts to work out, eat healthy, and not get drunk are looked down on as weird and antisocial.

So perhaps the real question is, since pregnancy is kind of difficult to fake (well, at least for more than a few months), what do you think is the best excuse for not drinking? ;)


  1. I’m a big fan of “because i just don’t want to.”

  2. I tend to find that “I’m on a diet” fits the bill for declining alcohol, all the good food, and whatnot. It’s much simpler than “leading a healthy lifestyle” or “in training” and is something everyone can understand (we’ve all been there). But I also think that sipping a glass of seltzer also works, not to “fake” alcohol, but just to signal that you already have a beverage and don’t need another one pressed on you.

  3. Anonymous says:

    You shouldn’t have to “fake it”…but you can always say you’re on antibiotics or that it interferes with some innocuous medication you’re taking.

  4. You’re on meds?

  5. After a week and a half of vacation full of beer and cocktails I decided to give up alcohol for a while. It just so happens to coincide with training for my first full marathon (Philadelphia in November!) which is another motivating factor. In my mind if I’m going to be pushing my body to run 50 miles a week I need to make sure I supply it with the correct fuel which does not include beer and wine.

    I’ve found that when I’m not drinking it often makes others feel more uncomfortable than I actually feel. Very often I find that the people who are most uncomfortable question, ‘why, why, why??’ They are very pushy that I drink the same thing that they are drinking. People seem to feel uncomfortable drinking around other people who are not drinking the same thing as them – another interesting thing to note.

    Keeping your commitment to your health and maintaining your healthy habits in social settings is worth the annoyance in my opinion. Once people see you not drinking on multiple occasions they will stop pestering you and realize that this isn’t something a few jokes or jabs at you is going to change.

    Good luck and keep it up! You shouldn’t have to lie about the healthy choices you are making. If people cannot understand why putting your health first is important to you then that’s their problem, not yours.

    Happy August First!

  6. another good one is that you are on new mediciation OR you could say that Alcohol has been hurting your stomach so you are going to take a break for a while until you feel better.

    OR I know a guy at work that takes off the month of May off drinking (every year as a personal challenge) and makes it a BIG DEAL. Like “Look how awesome I am!” and he just OWNS IT. Maybe you should just try to OWN IT??

  7. It is really hard, I sympathize! My best and truest excuse, though I don’t end up hewing to it as often as I should: I have pretty bad insomnia, and alcohol makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. The cost on sleep quality, especially during business travel, is too high!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I told everyone I made a bet with a friend (about who stays sober longer) and asked for help to win. There actually was a bet, but I realized when I had already won that I actually felt way better not drinking at all and haven’t been drinking since. Nowadays I just say “I don’t want to” and luckily most people I know are cool with that.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Every time I go to a bar and don’t want to drink, random guys will come up to me and give me a hard time for not drinking. I don’t know why they care or why it is any of their business, but for some reason they feel the need to say something. It usually just makes me really mad.

    One time I couldn’t drink because I was on antibiotics and I told the random guy who was annoying me that and he basically accused me of lying. So you can’t win either way.

    I just avoid bars. But if you have to go, I agree with the idea of ordering seltzer or tonic water and lying and saying it is a gin and tonic or something.

  10. I don’t really drink at all. My biggest thing is I feel like my friends who do drink think that I think I’m too good to drink or I think I am better than them. It is something I struggle with all. the. time. And it is frustrating to no end. I fake it a lot and get seltzer and pretend.

  11. Anonymous says:

    As a fellow healthy eater and occasional non-drinker, I say be strong. Say you aren’t in the mood, don’t like the way it makes you feel, don’t want to wake up with a headache…any variation on the true reason. Perhaps with time more of us will come out from under the rug and stop sipping at seltzer like it’s vodka ;-)

  12. Ha! pregnancy is not the solution to all problems – so says the mother of a newborn. Try not drinking at company or family functions when you ARE pregnant but haven’t TOLD anyone.

    My excuses: I don’t feel like it, I’m watching my weight, I don’t feel well.

    At the company function, I drank seltzer and a fake margarita. My mother was an alcoholic who basically drank herself to death, so that took care of the family functions.

  13. Oh, I’ve been there. I once had a boss who would badger me into having a drink. “Why aren’t you drinking? What’s the problem? You should have a drink. Seriously, why not?” He wasn’t trying to put moves on me, but he did need everyone to validate his alcohol problem.

    I think after you’ve said, “I just don’t feel like it,” and someone asks again, there’s no reason you can’t say, with a quizzical look, “Why do you care so much?”

  14. Brittany says:

    Ha. I like that last suggestion if just asking, “Why do you care so much?” I don’t even think the seltzer requires a lie in most cases. Usually, it’s the lack of drink or plain water that makes people ask questions, in my experience.

    I think I used to be the pushy irritating one (after a long tiem of not drinking myself and then taking up up). I’m working on it. Now when I’m at a social function and someone’s not drinking, I usually ask, “Just not feeling like it tonight or do you not drink in general?” (with no why) so I know not to badger them in the future and how to handle mutual drinks in the future.

    Pro-tip–I’ve found bringing sparking apple or grape juice to a dinner party instead of wine to generally be a huge hit, because there’s usually someone who doesn’t want to can’t drink. Bonus: You can get a nice bottle for $3-4. =)

  15. I find it incredibly rude for anyone to question your choice to drink or choice of beverage. In fact, as the child of an alcoholic, I would suggest that they are also very insensitive as the person they are asking (not you obviously) might not be drinking because they are a recovering alcoholic! It’s a personal choice and no one’s business but your own.

    However, I would say that as a way to handle the situation, a simple response such as the one you’ve been giving–I don’t feel like it tonight/not in the mood for it–is acceptable. If someone keeps pushing, I try what a previous poster suggested and ask them why it’s so important to them that you drink. Turn it back on them, since it seems to bother them so much! If you have a chance (if you know the person, perhaps in private), maybe remind the person that it’s kind of a personal question…and there could be really private reasons for someone’s not wanting to drink.

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