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Scotland—and the U.K. in general—has a deeply ingrained drinking culture. How cool is it to be a nondrinker? Do you miss it in a social context? What are the pros and cons of being a teetotaler? —Graham Walker, Scotland
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I don’t know if it’s cool to be a nondrinker. I never thought about it in hipster terms, except that it might be cooler to live sober than to die drunk. I don’t miss drinking in a social context—or any context—at all.
Pros: I never have hangovers. I never black out and forget what happened after 1 a.m. I don’t run to the bathroom to vomit. I’m the designated driver, which allows my running buddies to get as wasted as they like. It also makes for fun conversation the following day. Over brunch, a bud may ask, “So, what did happen at the end of the night?” I might be the only person at the table who remembers, so I can color a fable as much as I like. I always come clean at the end, though.
Cons: cultural pressure. As you mentioned, Scotland (and the rest of the U.K.) has a culture that is often based around the pub. In some countries, people look at my refusal to drink as odd or antisocial. I don’t worry about it, as I doubt they’ve actually considered that it’s a choice that has nothing to do with them or their ways. A related downside is that it opens me up to interrogation on the matter. I’ll talk about it, but it might not be the cheeriest of topics immediately after a rousing toast. Still, I’m always happy to raise a glass of whatever I’m drinking. And the same rules apply with nonalcoholic drinks: Always make direct eye contact when toasting. —Bob Mould