How To Talk To A Mormon In A Bar

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a Mormon. People have varying levels of knowledge about Mormons, so when I reference my religion, I like to start with the basics. Maybe you know this and maybe you don’t, but Mormons don’t drink alcohol. At all. Not even wine. Not even as part of the sacrament on Sunday (we use water). You might catch one of us consuming copious amounts of Diet Coke or Rockstar Energy Drink, though, and some of us (read: me) even tread into the dangerous territory of cooking with booze (beer bread is common in our household, as is Husband’s bourbon bacon caramel popcorn).

So you probably know that we don’t drink, but you don’t know how you feel about that or how to act around one of us on a Friday night. So here are a few tips*:

  • Mormons are not alcoholics. Or, some of us might be, but not by the bare virtue of choosing to abstain from alcohol. You don’t have to be scared of accidentally offering one of us a drink. I don’t love it when people actively try to ply me with alcohol, but I also feel uncomfortable when I find out that people were warned before hanging out with me, “Be careful not to offer her a drink. She’s Mormon.”
  • Mormons do like to socialize. I want to be invited to happy hour. I might not always come, but that’s because I have work to do or because I haven’t seen Husband and puppy in too many hours, not because I don’t go to bars. Lots of times I will come. It’s true that some Mormons might not like to be around drinking, but you should ask before you just assume that.
  • If I quietly order a Coke or a sparkling water at a work event, it’s not because I’m embarrassed by or trying to hide the fact that I don’t drink. It’s because I’m socially aware enough to recognize that it’s not an appropriate time to announce “Hey, I’m different! Want to talk about why?”
  • Don’t apologize to me for drinking. I don’t care. I obviously wanted to come out with you. I expect that people will drink. If I cared, I would stay home.
  • If you are truly uncomfortable drinking around me or any other sober person, that says more about you than it does me.
  • Don’t feel bad for me. Mormons choose not to drink and even if it wasn’t a difficult or even conscious choice for many of us, we still chose to follow a religion that prohibits alcohol. I can promise you that I am very happy with my Coke or my water or my basket of onion rings. I used to drink. I liked it, until one day I didn’t. And I like sobriety and fried food better than I ever liked booze, even back when I really liked it.
  • I won’t mind if you ask me questions about my choice or how it affects my life. Not even if the questions are probing or challenging. I won’t mind if you make fun of me a bit, for ordering a Shirley Temple or a Black and Tan with ginger ale. Laugh about it and then drop it because I’m not some kind of freak. Lots of people don’t drink: pregnant women, people who take certain medications, members of other faiths and cultures, teetotalers, people in recovery, people who are trying to lose weight, people who hate the taste, and so on. If you go on and on about it like it’s the strangest thing in the world, you’re only revealing how small your world is.
And, lest you think that I’ve neglected to observe that Mormons are not always adept at making their drinking friends feel comfortable, next week I will post a similar list of tips coming at this issue from the other side.

*I realize that many of you know all of these things and think that they are pretty obvious. Real live interactions I’ve had with other grown-ups over the past couple years have taught me that they are not obvious to everybody.

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17 Responses to How To Talk To A Mormon In A Bar

  1. Enjoyed this post a lot! I reposted it to my facebook page. 🙂

    • Sandy says:

      Thanks Elizabeth! It was fun to see my blog on facebook, especially since I can’t link to my posts myself (friends with too many co-workers). I’m constantly surprised when people relate to things like this!

  2. Ru says:

    These tips are definitely needed – sometimes when I’m hanging out at a bar, I feel the need to ask people, “Would you find it so weird if I was just pregnant and not drinking? Just imagine me pregnant then.”

  3. Ru says:

    (And looking forward to the tips for awkwardpants Mormons as well. :))

    • Sandy says:

      I am having a little more trouble with the second post, I confess, because I am an awkwardpants Mormon at heart, and also because I don’t want to sound too harsh, but I’m working on it.

  4. Cheri says:

    Sandy!

    I LOVE this! I am going to post this (citing you as the author of COURSE on my blog!)

    Cheri

  5. Ruth says:

    SO true. I actually don’t mind socializing in a bar, especially when I was in college and would just order fun fruity drinks minus the alcohol. i loved your take on this!! brilliant as usual.

  6. UK Yankee says:

    Hi Sandy –

    I found you from Ru’s blog and I’ve been reading some of your older posts. I just wanted to say that I really like your writing and thanks for being so open! Oh, and I read the story of your chapel in the desert, and I want to tell you it looks beautiful. What a lovely place to get married! My husband and I were in the same situation when we got married; we ended up in a beautiful, tiny chapel out in the countryside. I still hope for the temple, but cherish our little church too.

    Anyway, hope you don’t mind if I stalk you a little bit!

  7. Melanie Carbine says:

    I actually hate happy hour. Especially when I’m bound to be seen by several students sitting with a group of drunk teachers. And, then I come home and someone decided to have a bunch of ex-patriates over who are so unhappy here that they’re pretty much drinking. And, as it turned out someone left there empty bottle by my front stoop. I’m really glad that my 8th grade host sister saw all of that.

    But, I like live music and I really don’t care if the establishment is selling alcohol. I stuck around for quite awhile last night for the karaoke alone. (Not so much live music on the island.) Still annoyed about all the drunk people last night. Apparently, it’s okay as long as you’re “white.” I’ll probably be less grumpy about alcohol when I’m not on a small island and/or alcohol isn’t negatively imposing on my life quite so much.

    You know what I hate more than people being annoying about alcohol and Mormons: Big Love. If I have to answer questions about my underwear with a guy (that I’m not dating) one more time, someone’s going to get hurt.

    …Sandy I’m loving your blog.

    • Sandy says:

      Thanks for sharing this bit of your life. That sounds really draining. Happy hour in a big city is probably really different than happy hour in a small town. There are so many people that it’s easy to find the ones who don’t drink much/are sober enough to carry on a decent conversation with. Plus, no teenagers. Also, Big Love. I’ll have to post about that! I watched the first season and really liked it, but man, other people do not like it for the same reasons I do.

  8. anna says:

    i love this. good to see you’re doing well ( :

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