Some people can’t do some things. That’s kind of obvious, right?
So why isn’t it with drinking?
I made dinner for some friends last Saturday; it was a welcome challenge in the kitchen, as one of them had a condition that severely restricted what they could eat and was on an autoimmune diet.
Which, combined with veganism, creates a hilarious intersection of can’t-eat foods. But it was fun! Being creative within constraints is really interesting. I wound up making zucchini noodles with a lemongrass-coconut milk sauce, and a kind of shredded sweet potato — I digress.
The point is that my guest couldn’t eat some things, like legumes. So no beans. That was fine. It wasn’t an issue, I didn’t think less of them as a person, I just knew they couldn’t eat beans and that was that.
Some people can’t drink.
So why is “I can’t drink” such a hard pill for me to swallow, and for others to accept? It’s not that weird. Some people can’t eat mushrooms. Some people can’t drink milk. There’s not that much distance between “if I eat a tree nut I will swell up and die” and “if I drink alcohol it will have a deleterious effect on my brain.”
I think alcohol, and alcoholism, have built themselves mythic niches in our culture. But it’s flat out weird that if somebody says “I can’t drink,” other people take that as a value statement. Or judge them on that.
Some people can’t do some things, and a subset of that is some people can’t drink. How does that become weirder, or less acceptable, than “some people can’t eat cheese”?
It’s a weird world.