Wednesday, February 13, 2013

To Be A Man: Drinking Like A Man

A man understands the basics of food and wine pairings and chooses to ignore these conventions if he feels like it. A man knows the difference between scotch and bourbon. And a man has no shame drinking out of a tiki mug and doesn't mind a miniature parasol.

A man doesn't get black out drunk more times in is life than he can count on one hand. A man doesn't try to coerce people to drink alcoholic beverages. And a man doesn't use alcohol as an excuse for things he says or behaviors he regrets.

Men have a very challenging relationship with alcohol. On one hand alcoholic beverages are a beautiful expression of gastronomic creativity and cultural traditions. On the other hand alcoholic consumptions has become associated with masculinity through activities that sometimes focus on excessive drinking.

There is this idea that experiences with drinking are a rite of passage for guys. There are high school proms, fraternity initiations, 21st birthday bar crawls and bachelor parties. All of these moments in guy's lives that represent important life transitions are associated with drinking for many guys, not all, but many.

I’m not arguing that having moments in our lives when we indulge ourselves are bad. But indulgences are risky and sometimes have dire consequences. If we want to have alcohol be part of our lives, celebrations and rituals, that’s fine and if done responsibly, alcoholic beverages can enrich our lives.

We have to get away from this idea of that the ability to drink in excess as a defining characteristic of what it means to be a man. What we are as men are defined by choices we make about our lives and the way that we treat people, not by risky behaviors, which demonstrate a lack of care and good judgement.

I remember guys at parties when I was in college bragging about how much they had drunk and how wasted they were. This is not an expression of masculinity but rather an expression of insecurity. If your expression of confidence and self-worth is defined by drinking habits, there’s a lot of others things in your life that you have to figure out before you are "grown up." 

What separates men from boys isn’t necessarily how much they drink or what they drink, rather how they view drinking. For a man, drinking is about enjoying life even more, not escaping life. For a man, drinking is a choice made independently, not through peer pressure or to prove anything to anyone else.  For a man, a drink is simply a drink, nothing more, nothing less.

What’s in your cup is not a status symbol, it doesn’t define your personality and no one with any true insight into people really cares what you are drinking and how much you drink.

If you enjoy a good drink, awesome, if you don’t that doesn’t make you any less of a man. Don’t let something so minor as the alcohol you consume define you.  If you do drink, don’t let poor choices and insecurities allow your drinking habits to become destructive to the man your evolution as a man.

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