On a recent long road trip, I listened to the podcast Smartless for 17 hours. This was my only entertainment other than noting the decor in rest area bathrooms and the displays in roadside gas stations (which morphed from Slim Jim and antifreeze to oranges and baby alligator heads). Smartless is hosted by Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes – a buddy club who hilariously interview the ultra-famous. They seem like the drollest, most fun guys on the planet. Interestingly, it was a few hours into the podcast before I realized Bateman and Arnett were both sober.
Non-Drinkers are NOT Boring
This got me thinking about the continuing stigma attached to sobriety. No amount of t-shirts emblazoned with SOBER IS SEXY seems to affect our subconscious. How can sober be fun if the first thing we think of when a party happens is the booze and the open bar? Bateman and Arnett casually mention ordering Coke with their meal or having a “problem” with alcohol, but neither belabors the point. As a nearly decade-long teetotaler, they sparked in me a dormant militancy; non-drinkers are not prissy suffragettes standing in the shadows of the next great event! Indeed, the entertainment industry is filled with non-drinkers, from Brad Pitt to Jamie Lee Curtis, to Kendrick Lamar. And there is no question that the Smartless gang is in great demand at A-list events.
Do not get me wrong. I am not saying everyone should stop drinking or even that alcohol should be banished from the social calendar. After all, 90% of Americans can, as the alcohol ads caution, drink responsibly. But for the whopping nearly 10% of us who cannot, I would like to shake up the paradigm that a great party must include spiked punch and tipsy patrons.
An Homage to Sober Fun
Here is why sober folks are fun to have at parties:
- We are good conversationalists and raconteurs
- Sober partygoers don’t accidentally use eyeliner as a lipliner or fall down flights of stairs
- This means we are usually not the subject of morning-after controversy
- We are the designated drivers!
- We are less expensive – we won’t be polishing off the 12-year-old Scotch
- Sober people feel less urgency at the open bar – we spend less time in the queue and more time mingling
- And we dance like someone is watching
- Sober guests remember to take our purses, shoes, keys, sweaters and jackets, and other personal detritus home with us
- We will not be among those who have to be told it’s time to go home
- You will not have to call us an UBER or make sure we get home okay
- Non-drinkers are not boring or repetitive
- We also tend to be less argumentative or violent
- We are good at sack races, and team sports
- We have the energy to help with dishes or take out the garbage
- Non-drinkers bring creative hostess gifts (not a bottle of wine)
- Sober folk remember the entire evening (you will not get a phone call from us the next day asking, “Are you mad at me?”)
Think of Those “Fun” Sober Friends When Party Planning
It appears that alcohol is here to stay. Indeed, 86% of American adults have tried alcohol at some point in their lifetime. Furthermore, 56% drank alcohol in the last month. It would be nice if hosts supported their non-boring sober friends by creating an air of inclusion at the next party. Hosts could offer plenty of non-alcoholic options and check in on non-drinkers, particularly if they look uncomfortable. Consider fancy sparkling water if you are buying special bottles of wine. Prominently available water will also be good for drinkers as a stopgap between alcoholic drinks.
After the imposed isolation of the pandemic, studies show that connection improves mental health conditions. When loneliness and digital interactions increase, gatherings can bolster our health, happiness, and overall well-being. Inviting a few teetotalers to your next soiree will also level the playing field so the party does not get out of control! Create an environment for all friends to shine, and do your part to bust the myth that non-drinkers are boring.