Last week I met a friend at a fashionable Auckland bar. I recognised the bartender, who looks like he is auditioning to be the next Keith Richards, although frankly, his mother wouldn’t even have been born when the Rolling Stones topped the charts. I asked him, “So, what do you have that is interesting and non-alcoholic?”. He did a lip curl. “A negroni?”
When I stopped drinking alcohol I thought it would be hard saying no, but I got it all wrong. Saying no to booze was easy – trying to find a way to explain this to other people was much harder.
You may not realise it, but we are all steeped in the alcohol Matrix. Drinking is our one acceptable defence mechanism in New Zealand. We use it copiously. We drink to celebrate, to commiserate, to mourn, to let off steam, to get laid, to connect.
Alcohol is sanctioned as one of the few acceptable ways to process our dark emotions: if you are angry, depressed or sad, it is frowned on here to keen, to wail, to let it all hang out, to express your misery in plain and unequivocal terms. But let me get you a cold one. Get that down ya.
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