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.
*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.