Dear Amy: I recently turned 21. I will be the first of my group of friends to graduate from college. This happens within a few weeks.
I feel like life is starting to return to a sense of normalcy as the pandemic recedes, and my friends and I are socializing more outside of our homes – going out dancing and enjoying the nightlife.
My best friend and I are not heavy drinkers and every time we go out the men push us to drink and then try to shame us for not “knowing how to party”.
Can you help us come up with a witty comeback to stop the pressure to drink?
– Happy teetotaler
Dear Happy: Alcohol is the only drug I can think of that people are continually asked to explain why they are NOT using it. Understand, however, that you are part of a growing community of people who choose to live sober.
As much as I like to give quick feedback, I think the most important thing to do is own your sobriety completely.
The only good thing about being ashamed of “not knowing how to party” is that it gives you a very quick look at who does it (women also push people to drink).
People who push you to party are throwing red flags, and you should take this into account to avoid them.
You are now beginning to venture outside for the first time as a legal adult, so you should take some basics to heart:
Never accept a drink from anyone other than directly from your trusted companion or the bartender.
Your professional bartender is your friend here. State that you don’t drink alcohol and ask for suggestions of a good substitute. A seasoned bartender will suggest alternatives and also take this as a cue to keep an eye on you. If you ever feel threatened or even uncomfortable, let the bartender and/or club security know.
(No matter what you’re drinking, tip the bar staff well.)
Regarding the explanation of your sobriety, it would be easy for you to lie:
“I celebrate ‘Dry July’.”
“I’m running a marathon tomorrow.”
“Shhhhhh – I’m pregnant.”
“One more DUI and I’m in the slammer.”
“I need to stay sober so I don’t slip your vomit later.”
But owning your sobriety looks like this: “I don’t drink because I don’t want to. Please respect my choice.
Dear Amy: My sister recently retired and moved away from her family and to the South West.
She bought a small house in a 55+ community and seems very happy. She said it was the only place she found she could afford, relying only on her social security and some savings.
Thirty years ago she got divorced and apparently in the divorce decree her husband was ordered to invest a sum of money, in her name, which will be returned to her when her ex-husband retires.
Her ex has now been retired for over five years and her ex and her children are reluctant to give her the money because they are afraid she will spend it.
I really believe she forgot about that nest egg over the years.
She could really use the money and if she spends it and has fun, good for her.
I’m going to see her in a few weeks and I’m wondering: should I tell her about it, or should I leave it alone and let her family decide when it’s time to give her what’s overdue?
– Brother and sister wondering
Dear brother: I wonder how you and her kids know about your sister’s nest egg when she doesn’t, but yeah, I think you should talk about it.
Other family members will probably accuse you of overreaching, but I agree with you that if your sister gets money, she should get it.
A divorce decree is not a suggestion – it is a legal agreement.
Dear Amy: Thanks for pointing out the sexism implied by “Upset Grandma” who claimed to be “confused” by the “paternalism” exhibited by a family naming a son after other male family members.
People should have the right to honor previous generations by naming their children after them. Male or female: who cares!?
– Grateful reader
Dear grateful: My feeling is that “Upset Grandma” was hoping to push me into a feminist rant about male children named after male ancestors. But she caught me with my rants.
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