In which our heroine is unabashedly bitchy about drinkers

So, I have this enormous party to go to this weekend, and I would like to be catty about it please. It’s being organised by my in-laws, so right off the bat you know there’s going to be some sort of eye rolling from me. And they’re drinkers. They’re not problem drinkers, per se – at least, I’ve never thought of them as such, except for my father-in-law, who was – but they’re the type who can’t possibly contemplate celebrating any occasion without copious food and alcohol.

Both my mother-in-law and husband hit milestone birthdays this year, and their birthdays being close together, it was decided that the whole family should rent a large holiday home and have a weekend away to celebrate. Saturday night is the actual party, for which invitations have been sent to a number of other people.


This is what the invitation says that guests should bring, in addition to ‘dancing shoes’:

Healthy livers
Staying power

It’s nice to have the angle of the event right out front, isn’t it?

Further emails are being sent to the extended family by my mother-in-law’s sister, who, a late invitee, has taken over the organising and delegated us all to cater a meal. Because goodness knows, if we have to make ourselves a piece of toast at any point during this four day extravaganza, it will be RUINED.

Here are some extracts from today:

‘Don’t forget, whoever is catering Sunday breakfast, to bring plenty of bacon and eggs – there’ll be some delicate stomachs!’
‘No entry without wine, and teetotallers are not invited!’

Teetotallers are not invited.

Oh, look. I know they’re just excited, and trying to set the scene for a wild party. But come the fuck on. LH is turning forty this year, and these invitations are being sent out by his parents’ generation. This is not a party for eighteen year olds, of whom I would forgive a little gaucheness.

Can we seriously not think of a way to indicate that this is a big party and everyone should have fun without hammering the alcohol references? For that matter, can we not contemplate the possibility that one can have fun at a party without alcohol? Especially given that the attendees include LH’s 85 year old grandmother, and five children under the age of seven?

Can we not be grateful that our daughter-in-law, being sober, has offered to cater Sunday breakfast on the grounds that she won’t be hungover, rather than making disparaging remarks about teetotallers?

It is just so damn juvenile, you guys. I don’t actually think that there will be any sort of big deal made on the night about me not drinking, and if there is I can more than hold my own. It’s just…it’s just so juvenile! SO. JUVENILE.


I don’t care if people drink. I keep alcohol in my house, I pour it for guests. But how do you get to the age of sixty-odd and never move on from the idea that you can’t have fun without getting drunk?

But of course, I used to think that as well. I didn’t say it out loud, because I knew that not everybody thought that way, and I knew that it was a deviant way of thinking. I knew that I should be able to at least pretend to have fun without alcohol. My in-laws are a very insular mob; they are one another’s main social circle, so maybe they’ve just never stepped outside that paradigm. I should probably not be bitchy about it, and instead say something poignant about the insidious way in which alcohol marketing has ingrained this association between fun and drinking into our lives.

But I can’t be arsed. I have to go and spend three days with a bunch of sixty year olds who are carrying on like eighteen year olds at their first keg party, and by the way also my mother-in-law hates her son-in-law and has asked her brother-in-law (following this?) to Speak To Him because, I don’t know, maybe only men can speak to men or something. And oh my God it is going to be so bad, SO BAD. And also so drunken.

Will I update you? Of course I will!


24 thoughts on “In which our heroine is unabashedly bitchy about drinkers

  1. You’re entitled to be bitchy about it. It does sound incredibly juvenile. And, of course, technically, you’re not even invited (teetotallers not allowed!) It made me sad reading it but also it made me think that this is a clumsy attempt to signal a Big Party ie announcing its intention to be BIG and FUN in some sort of unnecessary, lazy code (referencing copious amounts of alcohol.) it’s like an Oscar ceremony when a huge star can’t arrive on stage without being introduced in gushing, OTT rhetoric: “fabulous! Brilliant! Wonderful!” I hope you find some fun in the middle of it all and enjoy your sober chef stint!

  2. It is my opinion in these situations that the more people market the “raging party” idea, the more worried they are about the party being a dud. Which, sad for your husband, it may be if it is as rigidly controlled as they are trying to make it! Your in-law’s sound like a carbon copy of mine, and I’m with Bea… I’m not invited, so I’ll see you Sunday at breakfast 🙂

  3. Oh you poor thing! This reminds me of my ex-boyfriend’s family. They all only socialized together so I think you’re right…they never stepped outside that paradigm. Yes…incredibly juvenile. Just smile and go to bed early. And be grateful you don’t feel like they do in the morning! You could maybe even rub it in a little by getting up early and going for a run ;-). Hang in there! And vent to us anytime. Hugs!

  4. And I thought my in-laws were bad! At what point will you be able to slip away to bed with a good book? Good luck surviving, and yes, please update us!

  5. And they wonder why there are no father-in-law jokes!!!! Seriously, does your MIL know that you are not drinking???? Being sensitive to any of my MIL’s criticism (when she was alive) and there was often the undertones of them, I would be offended. That being said, I’d put a smile of my face and go. Of course, my husband would pay dearly in the end. Funny, I am in my sixties and am sober a little over 3 months now. I do remember loving to party and being the life of the party – but, believe me, there was nothing attractive about a 60+ woman shitfaced. It warms my heart to read so many blogs of younger women not drinking. Stay with it!!!!! You’ll be fine.

  6. Bring a video camera. I anyicipate some good blackmail worthy shots.

    And maybe some really loud instruments to play with the kids sunday morning.

    That will definitely be one morninv you will wake up so happy to not be hungover!

  7. That sounds absolutely ridiculous. Embarrassing, actually. Do what you gotta do to make it a fun time for YOU. In the spirit of juvenile debauchery, maybe you could start pranking people. You know – saran wrap the toilet seat? Frozen underwear? Things like that. They’ll all be so shit-faced that they won’t know who to blame.

  8. Oh….this just makes me mad on so many levels. Perhaps you should respond by saying that since you are a tea totaller, and therefore not invited, that you are handing the breakfast job over to her. Wish her luck with her awesome hangover, and remind her to bring ‘lots of fucking bacon’ cause she’s going to need it!

    • This would be my vote for a response, as well. Of course, in reality I’d probably suck it up and try to still be gracious. But in my teetotaling fantasy, this is what I’d do.

  9. Good luck and keep in mind that you aren’t being kidnapped. Keep your car keys in your pocket and your car parked in a way that you can just leave and go out for a ride when you need to get out for clear air and sanity. No doubt your DIL might like to get out of the mess every now and then too. Family, eh? Sometimes four days is my limit, other times it’s more like five hours!

  10. chortling AND sympathetic here. because, funny, but deep down sad that the alcohol short cut to fun is all they seem to recognise AND inflict on other people. oh, and more than a teeny bit furious on your behalf at that teetotaller comment. which is just (a) plain bad manners and (b) not even funny.

    suggest you take plenty to entertain yourself when the drinking gets tedious… and tell us all about it, yes?!

  11. Meh…probably not much is gonna happen in the end. And if so, why are you going to allow it to bother you? Bring something to do. Make it fun for the kids or just take healthy long breaks. Drinkers gonna drink, of course. I think we all recognize at some level that we felt the same they feel. Regardless of what happens, you’re sober. See what joy you can sneak out from that party 🙂

      • I’ve recently said that unlike my tolerance for alcohol, my tolerance for drunken buffoonery—or sober alcohol-inspired dopiness (e.g.: “teetotalers not allowed”—has not increased over time.

        My family—parents, siblings, uncles— is IN the alcohol business and drink like it. I spent the past year feeling like the sober pariah for pointing out a year ago on Xmas eve that my sibling who had come out as being an alcoholic had seemingly been welcomed back into the fold with open arms.

        I’m perfectly content to graciously accept normies drinking responsibly and I’m even tolerate the juvenile in juveniles but the picture you’ve painted sounds trying, to say the least.

        Be as judgey as you need to be. I feel your…irritation.

  12. I’m with Paul here…Meh!
    This sounds like an invite would have been DELIGHTED to get several years ago, as would have many of your readers.
    We’ve changed, they haven’t, oh well.
    It’s not on them to make this party pleasant for you, drinking or not it really never is. Play with the kids. Hang with your daughter in law. Go to bed early, certainly if they are all that potted they’ll not notice your early disappearance.
    And celebrate your husband’s 40th with love and delight…which, sober, you will be so much more present and able to do.
    Please update, can’t wait to hear.

  13. This sounds so much like a group of friends I have that I can’t stand it!!! No really – I don’t go to the “annual function” any longer because I just don’t want to be around it. (We’re fifty-somethings but you get the idea.) I used to be the leader of the pack but I can’t run with the big dogs any more.

    However, to Paul’s point, the last few years I went it was very sad. A bunch of people about to be fifty who tried but just couldn’t party like it was 1999 any more. They tried – the result was just plain sad.

    So glad that’s not me anymore. So, so glad.

    And yes, you will keep us posted cause I want DETAILS!


  14. Ugh. You’re wonderful to agree to take the hangover-day turn at catering. To completely overlook your sobriety (and anyone else’s who isn’t a juvenile party-hardy monger) with comments like they’ve made indicates either a profound cluelessness, an alcoholic’s assumptions that everybody does things this way or downright passive-aggressiveness. The mere amount of focus on alcohol is suspicious of alcoholism’s way of rendering people adolescents (not growing much beyond the onset of alcohol use). Granted, I’m a long ways away, but even from here it sounds like people who can’t see beyond their noses. You’re a good egg to be willing to wade through the muck among them.

  15. Oooh that would piss me right off!
    I’d hold my tongue though, knowing that early Sunday morning is indeed the best time to start the blender and exact sweet (somewhat juvenile) revenge… Have a great time at the party 🙂

  16. Sharing a holiday house with a large group of people is my idea of hell…I need my own space (massive introvert). I think you’re one very supportive wife to be going at all and it shows just how solid you are in your sobriety. I’d be thinking of excuses not to go the moment the invite arrived!!

  17. Oh wow. It’s not just juvenile, it’s insensitive, rude, crass, ignorant, disgusting, and really really offensive. I have declined invitations, even family events, for less. This would turn me off of them for life. I’m serious.

  18. May I play devil’s advocate, and respectfully disagree with most of the comments here? I don’t drink at all (any more, that is; man-oh-man did I *EVER*, once upon a time not so long ago) and my ironclad rule is, I’m not going to expect others to tiptoe around me just because *I* choose not to.have a few. Doesn’t bother me at all, at ALL, and I’d feel just awful if I felt like I was being a solemn, judgmental party-pooper. I don’t care if the whole crowd is sloshed, as long as *I’m* not. I’m also a vegetarian, and I don’t sulk and rant if I get an invitation to a barbecue or a hamburger cookout! I go, laugh and socialize, fill up on salad and fruit, or (if I know the hosts very well) bring my own veggie-burger or portabella to throw on the grill. Get mad because the invitation indicates there’ll be some bigtime animal-flesh-eatin’ goin’ on? What a PRIG I’d seem, and I wouldn’t blame people for not asking me the next time. You don’t drink: fine! Better than fine! The sober life really IS all it’s cracked up to be, and more, but…ummmm…your family still drinks, and it’s their party to organize as they choose. I’d say a sense of humor, or a sense of the absurd, is definitely what’s called for here.

    • Bee, thanks for this comment – it’s really helped me clarify where my indignation is coming from. You’re not the only person who’s reacted as if I’m complaining that there will be drinking at this party.

      I don’t care if they drink. Not at all. As I said in the post, I keep alcohol in my house, and I offer it to guests. I have no issue at all with being invited to an alcohol-heavy party.

      But this isn’t me being a prig, or demanding that everyone make my choice. It’s them. They are the ones who are sending out ‘required’ lists which boil down to the requirement to be a drinker. They are the ones who are ‘jokingly’ disinviting teetotallers, presumably because teetotallers are SO boring and dull. The prejudice is not coming from me.

      This is not you, a vegetarian, being invited to a meat-heavy barbecue. This is you, a vegetarian, being invited to a meat-heavy barbecue via an invitation that states ‘Required: a thirst for blood, nice sharp carnivorous teeth, and get ready to give your colon a workout’, followed by an email that says ‘vegetarians aren’t invited!’.

      I’m not even sure that I do owe it to drinkers to be as accommodating of their choices as I am; falling all over myself to show that I’m still ‘a cool girl’ and all that crap. But I am. In this scenario, I am not the one excluding a category of people based on their drinking habits.

  19. Allie: Funny, the imaginary carnivore invitation! I will say that I DID get a similar thing once, saying that the cookout was in support of PETA, which (according to witty host) stands for
    “People Eating Tasty Animals.” Mmm, *bon appetit*…not! I see your point, and was certainly not calling *you* a “prig;” I meant that’s what I-me-personally would (wrongly, no doubt) feel like.
    I still say that ol’ sense of humor will help: I love someone’s idea of your taking little videos of your drunk family. Got a YouTube account? We’d ALL love to see the “merriment”!

  20. Allie I am in almost the exact same situation as you. My in laws are heavy, heavy drinkers – I fit right in with the family when we first met 😦 But even though it has been over a year and I have indicated that it will be forever they still ask me at EVERY SINGLE EVENT – “Really? Still not drinking?” And then they proceed to get shit faced.
    Like you I initially get pissed off at the adolescent, gung-ho, let’s get shit-faced or it’s no fun at all attitude and they are in their 70’s. I don’t care that they drink, although I can’t help but inwardly chant “holy shit – that’s your third bottle of wine!!!!!” But I know that my not drinking makes most of them ponder, for at least a moment, their own drinking and I think that makes them uncomfortable. And that makes me feel a tiny bit better because with the amount they drink they should feel uncomfortable 🙂
    Meanwhile at these events I have two kids to wrangle and there are a few ladies who join me with a cup of tea. I do find the conversation a tad tedious and repetitive and I can spot a barney coming a mile off. I have actually managed to put out a few flames before they caught on. I’m like the family sober super hero now, Sober Girl! lol. I am lucky that my hubby, whilst enjoying the occasional beer will still let me vent about this paradoxical country we live in where NOT ingesting poison is seen as weird.
    Good luck! I look forward to hearing the details 🙂
    xxx Kirst

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