Thursday, 24 March 2016

Sober Dinners

The thing we all seem to struggle with initially when we quit drinking is socialising.

It doesn't take too long before you're pretty comfortable staying in, dressed in your comfiest PJs, watching the latest box set and clutching a hot chocolate, BUT venture out to a dinner or a party and you're all.... ill at ease and scratchy.

This bothers us a lot, as often we enthusiastic imbibers are outgoing, sociable types. That's partly what got us into this mess in the first place, right?

Well, last night Mr SM and I were invited out to a smart Italian restaurant with seven others for dinner. The sort of evening that would have filled me with horror six months ago.

Dinners, for ages, made me feel twitchy. I'd worry that I was being really boring. I'd be obsessed by how much everyone else was drinking (not a lot, as it turned out. Who knew?).

I didn't know what to do with my hands which had spent ten years constantly clutching a cigarette, then the next fifteen wrapped around a wine glass.

But, last night, I realised that I was feeling rather.... relaxed. Comfortable. Not 100%, but well over ninety.

One of the issues with dinners down my way is that the conversational topics are often confined to (1) Idle gossip (2) The housing market and (3) Which schools you're trying to get your children into. This drives me quietly insane.

Then last night I realised that I'd been as big a culprit as any.

Back in the drinking days, after a few glasses, when my brain had gone all numb and sleepy, I'd fall back on the tired old topics, and reel out some boring old anecdotes. Plus, I'd completely fail to listen to anyone else.

Last night, down my end of the table, we talked about all sorts of stuff - none of it related to our children or house prices.

We discussed the terrible situation in Brussels. We talked about the 'fight or flight response' and whether we would be the hero on a sinking ship, or freeze and drown.

We laughed about how Stalin, in the second world war, thoughtfully sent condoms to the British troops (whose rubber factories were busy making tyres for army vehicles), but made them all extra large and labelled them 'medium,' which got us onto a random (rather x-rated) conversation about penis size.

We moved onto Madonna, and her custody dispute over Rocco, and if Jon Snow really was dead, or whether he'd be revived by the witchy woman with red hair in time to deal with the White Walkers.

It struck me that, being completely sober, wide awake and relaxed, I was firing on all cylinders.

By that point in the old days I'd have passed through the overly loud and domineering stage, and would have moved onto bored, tired and desperate to leave.

I'd done my usual trick of accepting a glass of wine at the beginning of the evening, then leaving it in my glass. No-one notices you're not drinking it, but it just avoids all the 'why are you off the booze' conversations.*

(I'm perfectly happy now with people knowing I'm not drinking, but often they're not. It makes them really uncomfortable, so I just try to avoid the issue.)

So, at the end of the meal, everyone's wine glasses were empty apart from mine. The guy on my right leant over and said, quietly, "Are you going to finish that, or would you mind if I did?"

Oh what joy!

Firstly, it reminded me how crazy I would have been driven by someone else's full glass of wine in the past. How I would have agonised over whether to say anything, or whether they'd notice if I just grabbed it.

Secondly, imagine, was seen as the person who didn't feel the need to finish a glass of wine - who would just stop when she'd had enough, even if her glass was full. Ha ha ha. How wonderfully ironic.

As we left, I offered a lift home to two of friends who lived near us, much to their joy and amazement. ("You drove?"). As pretty much no-one else drives to dinner in central London, I'd nabbed a (free) parking space right outside the restaurant.

Sober dinners - I think I may have cracked it....

HAPPY SOBERVERSARY to Jennifer from Canada, who's been with me since the early days. Huge congrats Jennifer - you rock!

And so do all of you.


SM x

* Please DO NOT try this until you have read the cautionary tale and caveats here.


  1. At an Italian too where its almost a criminal offence not to drink! Sounds a lovely evening x

  2. This is a great update - I'm pleased you've got here and that you have got your moves worked out

  3. Is that Stalin story true??? Tooo funny, and brand new to me....(and as the country song goes, 'this aint my first rodeo‘...)

    Congrats to you on such a successful sober night out!

    1. The version I heard quite a while ago was rather different. It was Churchill who sent the condoms to Russia, and had them marked as 'extra small'.

    2. To be honest, I can't remember which way round it was, and it's quite possibly an urban myth, but a good story nonetheless! X

  4. No getting too drunk, speaking rubbish, telling secrets, obsessing about there being enough to drink, trying to pace yourself, next day hangover, etc etc... What's not to love about sober nights out x

  5. Day 82 here and loving my hangover free life! Your sober dinner does sound awesome. I've still not braved the whole fill your glass and leave it untouched - as I reckon I may feel too tempted - but one day - I'll be there. So much easier to not drink and it go unnoticed ( by all the other drinkers!) than I ever thought - so that makes life easier. Happy sober Easter weekend lovely sober bloggers. Love SFM x