Philadelphia Metropolis

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Why I Don't Drink

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By Rich Rubin

I'm sitting with Christopher in our friendly local gayborhood bar. It's boring. He's had a kamikaze shot and moved on to a Bombay Sapphire and tonic, working on making that vanish while I nurse a diet Coke. He's starting to feel a little uncomfortable because he's spotted a certain ex-friend at the other end of the bar. I'm just praying the guy stays there. On top of that (or because of it), he's in the throes of a nicotine fit, so I sit with our drinks while he goes outside for a cigarette.

As he walks out the front door, I see the identical emotions playing across the faces of every man sitting across the bar. It's like a movie scene. It's uniform, universal, and hilarious.

First, the arousal:  "Damn, he's hot."

Then the hope:  "Here's my chance."

A brief second of optimism. They reach for their cigarettes and prepare to head for the door.

Woodys. Bar.jpgFinally, the sobering realization:  "Dammit, I don't smoke any more."

If I didn't bite my lip, I'd burst out laughing right there at the bar.

Belatedly, there's acceptance. "I'm glad I don't smoke."

I can read their thoughts like a cartoon bubble:  "Smoking is not a good thing," they think, though not without a touch of wistfulness--or is it fear?

And that's what it's like when you go out in public with hot friends.

At least four times during the evening, Christopher asks me if he looks good, if his body is appealing, if he's too fat,  etc. And I respond in my usual way, "You look hot."  There are, after all, people who find his appeal increased by that tiny gut he has. It's like, you see this hot guy, and that sexy little paunch, and you think: This is a guy who's hot because he's hot, not because he spent 1,000 hours in a gym trying to become hot.

He loves my description of the scene I saw during his cigarette break.

And I love being friends with him, so very different from me.

He's a drinker. I'm not. The reason is because of what we talked about tonight as we stood in front of our seats at the bar (neither of us felt like sitting for some reason). Christopher told me about how he wants to settle down with someone, have a domestic life, even raise children. And he will. He's smart, he's kind, he's hot as hell, if there's any justice in the world someone will find him who deserves him.

Me?  I'm not so young any more, there are handsomer men in the world, and...well, let's face it, at this point that particular dream just isn't going to happen for me. Oh, I might find somebody with whom I'll settle into a nice relationship. Hasn't happened for a while, but you never know. But making a life together, getting a house together, having a relationship that might just last a lifetime--well, that's no longer in the cards.

Chris is 28. It'll happen for him. Maybe not right away, but if it happens when he's 30, 32, whatever, there's still the possibility of a life ahead to make together. My life is more than half over, even by the most optimistic reckoning. The uphill run into making your life resemble what you want it to be has happened for me. And in some ways my life is what I want it to be, or close enough.

And--this is the crux of the matter--I've had to do that without a lover in the picture. Why?  Well, I don't really know. Just because it never happened, I guess. So c'est la vie, and now let's deal with reality.

I'll do it alone.  Pretty much always have, and I can't foresee that changing. I've created a life, a comfort level, a way to deal with what is and was and won't be. It's not ideal, but it's what I have. And not, when it comes down to it, so bad. I've stayed in control (as I said, I'm not a drinker), let my life turn into at least a silhouette of what I wanted it to be. No one's going to wish they smoked because I step out of the bar; no one's going to care whether I have one cocktail or twenty  -- except maybe the bartender

Drinking = bars = wanting to connect = frustration.

I'm not an "out on the town" type, and I'm not going to become one at my age.

"Out on the town"= wanting more.

I've adjusted expectation to reality, and don't put myself in situations that might challenge that; situations in which I might, God forbid, let loose.

Letting loose = trouble.

And that's why I don't drink.

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