Alcohol is everywhere. From the ads during the Super Bowl to bus stop signs, you see it anywhere you go. The commercials can come on during any television program. When I was a kid, I wanted my dad to get me Mike’s Hard Lemonade just because I saw it on TV. I didn’t realize what exactly it was. But I wanted it.
At college, alcohol discussion was everywhere. Oh what do you drink? Where’s the party at? Can you believe they ran out of alcohol? These were the conversations I heard daily as I walked around the dormitory those first few weeks. Parties were seen as these big social events. You had to go to them or you were doing something different.
“Oh You’re staying in tonight? That’s cool man.” “Yeah, we’re just chilling tonight.”
Before I can tell you my state of mind when my floor-mates came back from the party, you have to understand my experiences with alcohol before college.
I remember when I was younger, that my parents would hold these Christmas parties. So many of my parents’ friends would come over. They’d dress in traditional Ghanian clothing. They’d say a prayer before eating. And then they’d go on to drinking.
I remember my dad, a man that I had looked up to, would behave so differently after drinking. My father is a stern man. He rarely laughs at home. He is all business. I hated it at times but it was who he was. He had my and my brother’s best interests at hands. My father never drank excessively. But when he drank I could tell he was a different. He would begin cracking jokes and being generally laid back.
My parents’ friends would always come around and tell me it was up to me to be responsible for tonight. Tonight I was going to be the adult. The first time, I didn’t understand why they said that. But as I watched the adults drink. I knew something wasn’t right. Like I said before my father was a stern man. This guy cracking jokes and tripping around was not my father. He was an imposter in my father’s clothes. He made a mockery of what I thought my father was to me.
It was no different at college. The friends that I had didn’t come back from their parties. Their bodies came back but it was if they were controlled by someone else. I watched as they stumbled around the dorms not wanting to be seen by campus police. As a good friend of mine walked towards me and I could tell that this was not right. When they awoke the next day with some unable to remember what they had done, I just shook my head.
I told you before that we’re taught to be tolerant of everyone. I doubt that you would tolerate a racist or a homophobes opinion though. I doubt you would tolerate a murderer speaking about how it was actually the victim’s fault. I doubt you can tolerate a man who beats his wife. Maybe you can. In someone’s view of life, you would either be a fool or a saint.
I learned at college that I cannot be tolerant of alcohol. Just the mention of it puts me in a bad mood. I try my best to not hate people because of it. I hate alcohol, but not my friends who drink it.
The thing I hate most about alcohol is that I feel like nobody ever speaks against it. Smokers are told day in and day out that they need to quit. They will get a hole in their neck. They will get cancer. They will die. Drinkers are told “Drink Responsibly” which is the dumbest phrase I’ve ever heard. As far as I’m concerned, a responsible person never drinks alcohol excessively.
Some people ask me why I don’t just drink in moderation. Because then I’d be a part of the problem. There’s nothing alcohol can give me.
Another thing I learned in college is that people have real confidence issues. I’m not going to say specific names, but it really seems like they won’t approach people unless they’ve had something to drink. I knew this one girl who would only talk to me if she had drank. I just don’t get it.
I realized I couldn’t identify with my floor-mates as much as I would have liked too. I didn’t like parties. I didn’t like drugs. I didn’t like alcohol. And I wasn’t interested in women who were drunk.
I’d try my best to just fit in but every time they’d talk about going to parties, I shook my head. One guy never shut up.
Then I saw this one guy wearing a shirt. “Have Heart. Straight Edge.”
I remember thinking to myself. “Straight Edge. That’s what I am!” But I was suspicious. It seemed too good to be true.
I felt like I was alone as I waded through the mud and slock that was college interaction at times. I had seen him go out to parties. I was certain it was some kind of ironic joke.
Then I talked to the guy. As I realized what he was, it opened my eyes to what straight edge could be. He introduced me to the hardcore and punk music. I had only listened to Minor Threat which I loved. Have Heart is close to being the best sound that has ever reached my ear.
After the first few weeks, he stopped going to parties. I was actually quite somewhat impressed of how alcohol didn’t bother him at all. I thought that maybe I should strive to be the same. Maybe I could be happier at college.
But I slowly realized what was good for him just wasn’t good for me. I was confused though. I wasn’t posi edge like he was. But I wasn’t exactly hardline. I didn’t want to beat people and carve Xs into their backs. I had hate but it wasn’t that strong.
One day when I was really bothering him, he called me Hate Edge. I remember looking it up and smiling. I finally realized just what I was.
There’s more stories about my freshman year of college, but I’ll end this chronicle on this note.
When it comes to alcohol, I don’t want to be around it.
Do I wish my friends didn’t drink? You’re damn right. I wish everybody was straight edge. With complete honesty, that is my perfect world. I want it so badly sometimes. But standing in my way is years and years of tradition and marketing. But I will not quit. If I convince one person not to drink for even one night, I’m one step closer.
As much as I see this world as being unjust, violent, generally an awful place, it doesn’t depress me. It gives me motivation. I want to see a better world. And I’ll have it someday.