To drink or not to drink, that is the question. And, if you're reading this, it's more likely the latter.
This is dedicated to the designated drivers, sober pals and overall protective people around the globe.
If this is you, it is likely that every night, your decision to go out plays out in series of steps.
Part One: The Decision.
More often than not, you have the choice at the start of the night whether or not to imbibe. If you are like me, that choice is often "no thanks, but I will be your DD."
The decision behind the DD is due to the phenomenon known as "FOMO," or the "fear of missing out."
They will convince you a few times to drink, to have a sip, to "have some fun," but you stand your ground, jingle the keys in their faces and shrug comically.
They will eventually relent.
Part Two: The Drinking Begins.
Keys safely in your pocket and a tall glass of water (actual water, unless you spot someone cute at the bar) in your hand, the night begins.
They take their shots and down their chasers. They scream to songs and dance until their feet hurt.
They come back to the bar to find you there, waiting with your water half gone and drag you to dance.
You shake what your mama gave you and you smile and laugh, but something's not quite right.
You look around at your friends and realize their screams and laughs seem more genuine than yours.
Are you smiling because you want to, or because your body is telling you to? It's like someone told a joke you don't quite get, but you laugh along anyway so as to not seem like a fool.
You laugh and laugh, but you'll never get the joke. It's as if an invisible bubble of drunken humor blocked you out and you can't pop through.
You go back to the bar and get more water while checking your phone for the time. The night has only just begun.
Part Three: The Conversations.
With the dancing being done, you and your friends find a booth (a rare, yet manageable feat) and begin talking.
Their faces aglow in the blacklight of the club, they laugh and talk about their love lives as you sit in near silence, wondering if someone wants to talk about something in which you're interested: cakes, cheese, spreadable butter.
You're surrounded by 50 conversations between five people and wonder if someone will talk to you or even talk at you, just so you can feel some inclusion, some sense of belonging.
One friend, who was conveniently in the bathroom becomes your hero and sits next to you.
He talks to you genuinely. Sure, he may be drunk, but he's at least taking the time to talk to you.
You finally feel a real smile and forget there was even a bubble keeping you out.
That's all you ever wanted that night, anyhow, to be a part of something.
Part Four: The Drop-Offs.
The night drones on in the same fashion, different club. This time, you and your friend are inseparable and you actually begin to have a good time.
Sadly, by the time this happens, the night has slowly begun turning into day and the drop-offs begin.
One by one, you remind them not to vomit in your car or pee or spit, but it ends up happening anyway.
By the time you drop off your last friend, your car smells like a gas station restroom, but with a hint of your new car freshener.
It's fine, though. You had a good time and that's all that matters.
Part Five: The Sober Mom/Dad.
Drop-offs complete, you shed your clothes and crawl into your bed, safe and sound.
It's not yet time to sleep because if you're anything like me, you're going to check up on your friends to make sure they're safe.
"Drink water," "Are you safe?" "Aim for the toilet" and "Do not call your ex!" are just a few of the calls and texts you will dole out before hitting the hay.
Sleep, dear sober friend, you've earned it. You wake up the next day to a slew of texts messages, like "thank you" and "sorry about peeing" and "did I ever tell you how much I value our friendship?" and your smile is carved from ear to ear.
Being the sober friend can be lonely and (at times) thankless, but in the end, if you're doing it for friends you care about, it's all worth it.
Thank you, on behalf of all the people who drink and, I'm sorry for the past, present and future debauchery you will endure.
You truly are the most considerate people in the world.