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Please Stop Slurring

Please Stop Slurring

By Michelle Tea

SourceGallery Stock


Because sober people find drunk people … annoying. If your New Year’s resolution is to cut back on drinking, this recovering alcoholic says please do.

By Michelle Tea

I’m pretty open about being a sober alcoholic. I’ll share with you all the grisly details of my many rock-bottoms, how rad my life has become since I hopped on the wagon. It’s such an important part of my life, I’m happy to discuss. Unless, that is, you’re drinking.

Although we’re not supposed to, we sober people judge the hell out of every one of you boozehounds.

When I toss the S-grenade in a bar, my comrades almost spit out their scotch. Is the person they thought they were getting soused with actually a seltzer-sipping Friend of Bill W.’s? It’s true, I nod, and wait for the response, which typically comes in two styles:

  1. A frantic explanation of their drinking habits, how they hardly ever drink, can’t remember the last time they were drunk and have recently cut down, or
  2. A bold declaration that they’re alcoholics too, accompanied by a hearty guffaw, a pledge of allegiance to liquor and a vow never to give the stuff up because, frankly, they just can’t get handle their job/kids/life without it.

Normally I interrupt these boozy monologues, waving my hands and cutting them off. “I don’t judge!” I say. “It’s none of my business. I don’t care.”

This is only half true. Other people’s drinking is definitely none of my business. And I genuinely don’t much care if you need a Long Island iced tea to make it through the day. Because unless you’re stumbling into my bed at night and puking peach schnapps onto my pillow, what concern is it of mine?

But, c’mon, ”I don’t judge”? You’d have to be drunk to believe that one.

4 glasses of alcohol thrown in the air

Source Gallery Stock

I’m an alcoholic who has cared for my alcoholism via 12-step programs for the past decade; I’m practically a professional alcoholic. I study the disease, and I’ve become an expert on the behaviors of the problem drinker. When my drinking friends start listing reasons why they’re really, really, really not alcoholics, I remember the reasons why I thought I wasn’t either:

  • I’m just doing what everyone else is doing! (I’d surround myself with other drunks, so my drinking seemed normal.)
  • I can quit whenever I want! (I did manage to stop for, oh, a week or something that one time.)

Only people haunted by the niggling thought that something is up with their drinking freak out like this.

And the drinker who proclaims her own ”alcoholism”? I was once proficient in just this kind of reverse psychology. It went something like this: If I could identify myself as an alcoholic and redefine it as someone who’s a super-wild party girl rather than, say, a sad sack who pees herself at the end of the soiree, then being an alcoholic wouldn’t be so bad and I wouldn’t have to, you know, deal with it.

But here’s the thing: Although we’re not supposed to, we sober people judge the hell out of every one of you boozehounds. We hate how sentimental you get when you’ve had a few. How you lose all sense of distance and get right up in there to tell us how much you “lurve” us. How your lips get wet in this really gross way, and you spit when you talk. You think you’re keeping it together when in reality you’re lurching around like a clubbed monkey.

When drinking friends start listing reasons why they’re really, really, really not alcoholics, I remember why I thought I wasn’t either.

You’re prone to sudden bursts of inexplicable rage. You repeat yourself and forget everything I say, so we keep having the same dim-witted conversation. You get annoyingly tragic. When you leave, we worry that you’ll be raped or walk into traffic or have sex with your ex. When I want to leave, you act like I’m betraying you. But guess what? You ceased to be a functional companion five cocktails ago. 

Do with this confession what you will. But consider your response the next time you learn there’s no rum in my Coke. Or, hey, maybe consider leaving the rum out of yours?

But I swear I don’t judge. It’s just that, well, I can’t help it: My sober eyes are on you — and you probably wouldn’t like what they see.

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