And at Forty Bucks a Bottle, Why Bother?
I do not drink habitually. I have never smoked a single cigarette. I have never injected myself with any sort of drug. I have never snorted anything from outside my body. I have never huffed glue, gasoline, lighter fluid, paint thinner or air conditioner coolant. I have never taken LSD, PCP or any hallucinogen. I have never smoked marijuana or hashish. I have never chewed qat. I have never taken any drug recreationally.
I do occasionally enjoy coffee or a glass or two of wine, but almost never without accompanying food. I drink a cup or two of tea on most cold days, but rarely otherwise. Somehow I have managed to spend more than thirty-five years on this planet without partaking of anything more serious.
In all this, I am unique among my friends. Many of them cannot wrap their heads around what they clearly perceive is a gap in my life experience. “You’ve never been curious enough to try anything?” they ask. They ascribe too much power to curiosity, apparently. I am curious how fast my car can go, but I’m not stupid enough to floor it just to find out (and since I drive a ten-year-old minivan with a puny engine, the answer isn’t all that enticing).
But I am a curious person (my friends find me very curious indeed). I read all the time, discuss my reading with others and constantly seek out new sources of information. I welcome meeting new people. I love interacting with smart people. Nature documentaries enthrall me. Somehow, curiosity does not serve to explain.
It may be that I completely lacked any of the peer pressure that often gets cited in explaining why anyone takes drugs recreationally. The peer pressure of my youth consisted of seeing who could shoot the most spitballs at our sixth-grade science teacher, followed by who could fail most consistently at trying out for various sports teams. Then there was the intense pressure to amass a collection of that year’s baseball cards.
But something more fundamental can explain my staid past, which in fact was anything but staid, despite the utter absence of narcotics, stimulants, barbiturates, or the dangerous kinds of what-have-you: life is interesting enough, intense enough, challenging enough, pleasurable enough and rewarding enough without artificial enhancement. If anything, I contend that resorting to drug use shows a lack of curiosity about the world, a wish to enter a reality at odds with the only one that matters. I have no wish to pop peyote because it would compromise my constant exploration of the universe, the mind and the heart.
Alcohol does not enhance my romantic experience; it handicaps it. I want all my capacities to be fully present, fully able to absorb every element of love. Of learning. Of my children. Of my friends. Of watching The Princess Bride one more time. Of savoring Godiva chocolates one at a time (except those stupid coconut or fruit things. Ugh.).
I don’t need to get high. Life does that for me.