I got to the bar first, so I ordered a glass of tonic with a splash of grapefruit and a drop of bitters. (Yes, I know bitters has alcohol in it. I am not worried about a single drop once a month or so, and the bitterness keeps me from feeling depressed about drinking a too-sweet kid drink.) The others arrived shortly thereafter, and when they asked what I was having, I for some reason answered, “It’s like a gin and tonic, but with a splash of grapefruit and bitters.” So, that was a lie. It wasn’t at all like a gin and tonic, because it had no gin.
Anyway, I congratulated myself and was having a decent time catching up with these folks, old classmates of mine. And then the waitress came by to take our orders for the second round. Now, I had ordered my drink at the bar, but I figured this could still work out. (Apparently I’m new at life.) I told the waitress that the bartender would know what I was drinking — “the weird thing with grapefruit juice and bitters.” She nodded. And then, HORROR OF HORRORS, someone else at the table said, “I’ll have one of those, too.”
So I was left with a few terrible options. I could admit that I had misled them about my drink which – of course – is a really strange thing to do. I could try to sneak over to the bartender to correct the order, but then surely the waitress would bring the drinks and say, “here’s the one with the gin,” or something like that. Or, I could just sit tight and, I don’t know, feel awkward and wait for something truly embarrassing to happen. I choice route C.
It was actually sort of okay, at least for a little while. The drinks came. My old classmate tasted the drink and said, “It’s good!” Vainly hoping to cover my tracks or something, I said, “There’s a lot more juice in it this time.” (I’m the worst.) Anyway, we sipped. And all was well . . . until the bill came. There were the other folks’ drinks, in the $10-12 price range, and then there was an entry for two $2 7-ups (which I guess is how he charged the mostly-tonic drink). DAMN. I just sort of acted confused (I’m a bad actor), and so did the other guy (his confusion was genuine), and then we paid the bill. I made a lame joke like, “Maybe that’s why it tasted like orange juice.” And he laughed. And then I went home, sober. And feeling foolish.
Why? Why did I lie, and why did I compulsively dig myself further in? Just to avoid admitting that I wasn’t drinking? Ugh. How very, very strange. What a totally, truly weird way to be.
Anyway, it was a good lesson. Much better to just deal with the fact that I’m not drinking than try to hide it. Shared tabs, picking up rounds . . . there’s just no way. Whoever said it would work to just order a soda with lime to “trick” people into thinking you’re drinking clearly never went out socially the way people do in my circle — that is, sharing bottles of wine with dinner, picking up rounds for other people, offering to hit the bar for others, etc. I just have to suck it up. I’ll give an update on how that whole plan is working out after I survive the wedding I’m attending next weekend.