Soundtrack in my head: Capsule, “Idol Fancy”
So I got home from my first Baha’i Feast last night and was greeted by a housemate asking me if I wanted to go bar-hopping. A Baha’i barhopping?
Now this is sort of a complicated question for a Baha’i. Part of the spiritual practice of a Baha’i is avoiding alcohol and narcotic drugs. I had a problem accepting this when I considered the Faith nearly two decades ago, but it’s not much of a stretch for me now. As years have gone by, I’ve enjoyed alcohol less and less, and have observed the negative impacts it has on my body more and more. For someone like me who is sensitive to grains and refined sugar, alcohol is like throwing gasoline on a fire. I’ve often found myself feeling hung over after just one drink. So this time around, it really wasn’t much to ask me refrain from drinking.
Nevertheless, my initial reaction to the offer was “Ummmm…” when I was first asked. I was also kind of tired, too. But I decided to go, because my housemates and I don’t do as much together as I would like. Being a Baha’i was not going to be the end of my social life—I see it, in fact, as being quite the opposite. But for a moment, there was a part of me that had these cozy images of Irish pubs and an image of a distant ancestor with a Scottish accent saying, “Wot? You noht drinking any mahr?”
I brushed those thoughts aside, and walked to Amy’s Café with my housemates. They ordered beers, and I ordered a club soda with a lime. I was shocked to discover that there was no charge for the club soda. I realized that I could get used to this lifestyle.
I told my housemates of my Baha’i declaration and the impact that it would have on my drinking, and they were supportive. One housemate thought it was really cool, and talked about how he found himself less interested in alcohol than before.
As we were talking, I was noticing how much I was enjoying myself. A lot of things that I associate with bar life—the music, the atmosphere, the conversation under the glow of the neon lights—all of that was still there, and did not require alcohol to make it fun. Indeed, I found it easier to focus on the conversation at hand than before. Maybe it was the particular company I was with that night, but I found myself enjoying myself more than usual. I think that often, the drink has been a distraction from the socializing at hand.
I’ve known recovering alcoholics who have pointed out that so much of the culture of socializing gets attached to alcohol when it doesn’t need to be. I’m grateful that alcoholism is not an addiction I’ve had to overcome.
We left Amy’s and went to a bar in the basement of Porta Bella’s Restaurant. I’d known about the restaurant but had never been there because for me, Italian restaurants = pasta = death by gluten. But they have this beautiful little bar in the basement that sort of has a brick catacombs feel to it. I ordered a Diet Pepsi and kept getting free refills. At one point I accidentally knocked over my Pepsi, which led to jokes about my alleged tipsiness. My housemates ordered these really thick stouts, but rather than feel jealous, I looked at the thick brew in their frosted mugs, and I thought to myself “Liquid gut-bomb.” I was glad that was not going into my stomach.
Total bar tab for a night on the town: $4.00, including tips.
The resulting happiness over being able to stick to my spiritual principles, and save googles of money at the same time? Priceless.