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Ask Amy: How do I respond when people pressure me to drink?

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Dear Amy: I recently turned 21. I will be the first in my group of friends to graduate from college. This happens in a few weeks.

It feels as if life is starting to return to a sense of normalcy as the pandemic recedes, and my friends and I are socializing more outside of our homes: going out dancing, enjoying the nightlife.

My best friend and I are not big drinkers, and every time we go out, men pressure us to drink, then try to shame us for not “knowing how to party.”

Can you help us come up with a witty comeback to shut down the pressure to drink?

— Happy Teetotaler

Happy: Alcohol is the only drug I can think of where people are continuously asked to explain why they are NOT using it. Understand, however, that you are a part of a growing community of people who are choosing to live soberly.

Much as I enjoy offering snappy comebacks, I think the most important thing for you to do is to completely own your sobriety.

The only good thing about being shamed for not “knowing how to party” is that it offers you a very quick insight into the people who do this. (Women also pressure people to drink.)

People who pressure you to party are throwing down red flags, and you should take this as your cue to avoid them. You’re starting to venture out now for your first time as a legal adult, so you should take some basics to heart:

Never accept a drink from anyone other than your trusted companion or the bartender.

Your professional bartender is your friend here. State that you aren’t drinking alcohol and ask for suggestions for a good substitute. A seasoned bartender will give you alternatives and take this as a cue to keep an eye on you. If you ever feel threatened or even uncomfortable, let the bartender and/or club security know.

(No matter what you’re drinking, tip the bar staff well.)

Regarding explaining your sobriety, it would be easy for you to lie:

“I’m celebrating Dry July.”

“I’m running a marathon tomorrow.”

“Shhh, I’m pregnant.”

“I need to stay sober so I won’t slip in your vomit later.”

But owning your sobriety looks something like this: “I don’t drink because I don’t want to. Thank you for respecting my choice.”

Dear Amy: My sister retired recently and moved away from her family and to the Southwest.

She purchased a small home in a 55-and-older community and seems very happy. She stated that it was the only place she found that she could afford, relying solely on her Social Security and some savings.

Thirty years ago, she divorced, and apparently in the divorce decree her husband was ordered to invest a sum of money, on her behalf, to be given to her when her ex-husband retired.

Her ex has been retired now for more than five years, and her ex and her kids are reluctant to give her the money, because they are afraid she will just spend it.

I really believe she has forgotten about this nest egg over the years.

She could really use the money, and if she spends it and enjoys herself, good for her.

I am going out to see her in a few weeks, and I’m wondering: Should I bring this up to her, or should I leave it alone and let her family decide when the time is right to give her what’s overdue?

— Wondering Sibling

Sibling: I’m wondering how you and her kids know about your sister’s nest egg when she does not, but yes, I think you should bring this up.

Her other family members will probably accuse you of overstepping, but I agree with you that if your sister has money coming to her, then she should receive it.

A divorce decree isn’t a suggestion; it’s a legal agreement.

Dear Amy: Thank you for focusing on the sexism implied by “Upset Grandma,” who claimed to be confused by the paternalism demonstrated by a family naming a son after other male family members.

People should have the right to honor previous generations by naming children after them. Male or female: Who cares!?

— Grateful Reader

Grateful: My sense is that “Upset Grandma” was hoping to prod me into a feminist rant regarding male children being named after male ancestors. But she caught me with my rants down.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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