It seems like common wisdom: drinking is a social activity. You do it with friends, at a bar, in a social venue. Don’t drink alone. That’s weird, sad. You have a problem.
I’m not about to tell you it’s fine to down four gin & tonics while watching watching Netflix and crying (Torchwood Children of Earth whyyyyy). But, I do think there are times when being alone — or at least by yourself — can be quite nice indeed.
First things first
I’m pretty much an introvert. Which doesn’t mean “I’m shy” (though I am), but that social situations drain my energy and I need quiet, preferably alone, time to recharge. Our first few outings to Bidwell, back before we were open, left me absolutely exhausted.
CBW has been great for me in that I’m actually changing into something of an ambivert, halfway between extro- and introvert. Not that being introverted is bad — not at all! — but I’m quite enjoying the realization that retail shifts can get me out of a bad mood and that I genuinely enjoy small talk. Who knew, man.
With that out of the way, let’s continue.
In defense of not being around other people
So, I like people. Y’know, a bit. But there’s also a real joy I get from having a beer when no one is around. Just me and whatever bottle I choose. Sometimes I write a blog post about it.
Other people are great, but they have this habit of talking? And expecting eye contact and your attention occasionally? Lately I’ve become a big proponent of “appreciate the beer, but just drink the damn thing”, but there’s still utility in fully examining a beer. Giving it your full attention. Being mindful of it.
People are worse than Twitter
If I ever unironically say something about how technology/the internet/social media/rock and roll music/etc are ruining Kids These Days because it makes us all antisocial, please put a knife in me as quickly as possible because I have been replaced by a pod person. I mean, I’m as bad as or worse than the next person when it comes to popping on to Tumblr or checking in on Simpsons Tapped Out to collect my materials to make a monorail. In many situations I do it to excess, at the expense of the people I’ve with, which has only been exacerbated now that I’ve gotten back onto the Untappd train.
But the heart of the luddite’s lament is that it takes us out of the moment. You aren’t interacting with people, you’re tweeting. Leaving out the part where Twitter is also comprised of Real Human Beings, when I’m at a bar with a group of friends I’m talking to them and only them. I might be less socially anxious these days but if you give me the slightest familiar face I will talk to them exclusively for the entire night, at the expense of everyone else. Which is great: they’re my friend because I like them! But in terms of my attention being so focused on something that I miss out on life going by, chance connections, single serving friends, the same goes for me with a group. A gorilla could be dribbling a basketball next to me and I wouldn’t notice.
Tomorrow we’re having our next book club (Hydraulic Hearth! 6 pm!). Last night I went to Hot Mama’s with some of the CBW crew so we could hone our shuffleboard skills for an upcoming grudge match. I might talk a good game, playing the part of the old guy at the start of Up (oh dammit the start of Up here come the tears again), but really I’m a softy who loves his friends, like the old guy at the end of Up.
Basically, I just want being alone, or “alone”, and having a beer or two to not be stigmatized. Because I prefer going to concerts by myself, and my ideal vacation is going for a quiet hike and then reading at Allegany State Park, and blogging is basically just keeping a journal I’m egotistical enough to hit “publish” on after I’m done, so why not beer too?
No one is an island, but maybe you can be a peninsula now and again?