I’m a few things. I’m a man (possibly an over-reaching boy). I’m twenty one years old. I’m an aspiring stand-up comedian, improvisor and all around creative type. I’m also straight edge. (And from re-reading this paragraph, rather self indulgent.)
If you don’t know, straight edge began as a subset of hardcore punk rock. Straight edge people refrain from drinking alcohol, smoking, and using recreational drugs. Some, including myself, also extend this promiscuous sex. And people hate this, and by extension me.
While I am straight edge in the respect that I abstain from these things, I don’t identify as “straight edge.” I don’t care much for the punk rock culture associated with it. I enjoy ska, early punk, and some pop-punk, but the harshness of many of the hardcore, straight edge bands are just too much for me. I find interest in the abstinence of straight edge, but not the culture. But for the sake of clarity, I’ll be referring to the abstinence throughout this as being “straight edge.”
When I tell people that I don’t drink or smoke, more often than not it’s met with some form of hostility. This doesn’t always mean people get angrily confrontational, but they can’t take it at face value. They can’t just hear that I don’t do that thing and go on their way. They poke. They prod.
“Does your family have a history of alcoholism?” “Are you religious?” “Why are you a pussy?” are all questions I am frequently asked with varying degrees of seriousness. The answer to the first is that, no, my family does not have a history of alcoholism. My parents did not drink a lot when I was growing up, really at all from what I can remember. My dad drove a tow truck and was constantly on call, so it wouldn’t be smart for business if he drank.
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones are not a Straight Edge punk band, but I fucking love ska. So have a listen while you read.
My mom started getting really into religion when I was in middle school. She did not include me in that, and I in no way identify as anything on the Christian spectrum.
My grandpa drinks sometimes and talks about when he’s going to die and then starts crying. But that’s just called having a good buzz from what I’ve gathered.
“So what’s the deal, bro, why don’t you drink?”
Well, I never went to any parties in high school. I don’t mean I didn’t go to a lot, I mean I didn’t go to any. So I was never peer pressured as an impressionable teenager to do what my friends were doing.
Instead, I was at home watching countless hours of professional wrestling. Professional wrestling has a lot of colorful characters, some good, some bad. Perhaps the most colorful in recent memory is the recently retired CM Punk. CM Punk was my first exposure to straight edge. He was the bad guy and flouted that he was straight edge. He said that it made him “better than you.” Of course, this guy was an asshole. But that was what made it fun- the bad guy wasn’t adhering to any vices. Deep down, he was just a straight asshole, and that’s what made him fun.
I’m not straight edge because I’m an emotionally stunted man-child that is trying to emulate a professional wrestler. I do, however, have a ton of respect for all of the pro wrestlers that abstained from self medication through countless injuries. There’s a lot to be said about self restraint.
When I got to college, being surrounded by gallons and gallons of alcohol everywhere- parties, dorm rooms, even in the classrooms from time to time- it was even weirder that I didn’t drink. But that was just to everyone else. I loved it because I found something that set me apart from everyone else. Whether you were a frat douche, a video game nerd, a theatre person- ugh-, it didn’t matter everybody drank. The weird thing was, it set me apart in a negative way.
I also take pride in the fact that I can have a good time un-aided by drugs or alcohol. I would find it incredibly sad if I could only be my “fun self” if I’ve been drinking or I’m high. Fuck that, I’ll do stupid, goofy, fun stuff whenever.
I got over my stage fright of doing stand-up comedy without the aid of alcohol and that’s an accomplishment I take pride in.
I know a few people that have stopped drinking and gone sober after getting a DUI or losing a marriage. They are given praise and condolences. I’ve never done any of these things, so my sobriety is seen as a trophy to be claimed. (Kind of like a young maiden’s virginity in the middle ages. That’s a simile I feel fits.)
People dismiss the way I’m trying to live my life because it’s against the script society has written on the subject. If you don’t drink or do drugs AT LEAST ONCE you’re “fucking weird, man.”
People that follow straight edge have varying degrees as to what they find acceptable. Some don’t even consume caffeine. “But caffeine’s a drug!” Yeah, and you’re an asshole. I take prescription and non-prescription meds when I’m sick or in pain. You’re not the first to try to show me the light with that loophole, and odds are if we’re far enough in this conversation that you’ve brought it up, I already dislike you.
Some people, Including myself also include promiscuous sex with straight edge. I’m not a virgin. But I don’t see the merit in casual sex. Maybe it’s me being a romantic, maybe it’s me being a prude, but I don’t want to do the most intimate thing imaginable with another person if I can’t at least enjoy having conversations and hanging out with them.
Do I only want to have sex with someone I’m going to marry? No. What the fuck? Is this the 1800’s? No, I just want to care about that person in a somewhat romantic way. (What the fuck? this guy is such a pussy (Yes, I am.).)
Casual sex tends to go hand in hand with drinking. I have no desire for either, so bars aren’t usually a ton of fun for me. Except for pool. Pool is fun.
“Come on, how do you know if you’ve never tried it?” I have no desire for it. I value the uniqueness my purity gives me over getting drunk “just once.”
“Come on. You have to have some vice!” I do. I like to steal cell phones and secretly rub my balls on them. Then I return them to the owner who is none the wiser.
Is it conceited to hold my own purity in such high regard over the standard practices of society? Probably. But the thing is, you’re probably not going to sway me with your half-assed reasonings that I’ve already heard 400 times.
I understand that I’m a stubborn, self righteous douche in some way. The thing is, I don’t flaunt my life choices as making me better than anyone. People can be very obnoxious in telling me about why it’s great to drink or do drugs. Just understand: I really don’t give a shit.
It’s fine if me not drinking bothers you. But before you tell me about it, ask yourself WHY it bothers you. And if you can’t come up with anything other than “it’s weird” kindly fuck on, then fuck off.