My husband was a member of a sports league for many years. In the beginning, the members of this league organized a golf outing each summer and attended a holiday party together at a bar. This holiday party evolved into a wine tasting with each interested party bringing a bottle of wine. Eventually the bar’s owners banned wine carry-ins and the wine-tasting moved to individual homes. In the beginning there were lots of laughs and both my husband and I enjoyed learning about wine. Before long we were attending or hosting a party numerous times throughout the year.
After the last party held at our home, we decided we’d had enough. These parties weren’t wine tastings, they were drunken bashes. Couples would bring a minimum of four bottles of wine. This was in addition to the wine we had purchased for the party. They didn’t sip and discuss wine throughout the evening, they slammed it. One guest became so drunk he fell in our bathroom ripping down our shower curtain. And the conversation was always the same. They would discuss previous parties, how much wine everyone had drunk and who had made the biggest fool of themselves. Then they’d hug everyone and say what good friends we all were. We had to tell them to keep it down; their language was not appropriate for our neighbor’s children. We worried about them driving. Even the designated drivers drank.
When the next party invitation arrived we declined, saying we were too busy. We didn’t host our annual party last summer. They didn’t take it well and without our participation the wine tasting group disbanded.
One of these former partygoers invited us to his birthday bash this past weekend. After much consternation, we decided to go. It was the right thing to do. We didn’t dislike these people we just didn’t want to be subjected to their drunken banter on a regular basis.
We did not have a good week. My husband totaled his truck coming home from work Wednesday night. Not liking the way the car in front of him was driving, he changed lanes hitting a patch of black ice. His truck spun out of control, hit a tree and flipped onto its side. He was lucky. He walked away without a scratch and is thankful he didn’t hit anyone else. Kerry, a kind stranger, pulled up behind him, called the sheriff and stayed with him ‘til a tow truck arrived. She even offered him a ride home. Then to add drama to our day, we realized our furnace wasn’t working and had to call a repairperson. $500 and three hours later we had heat.
The rest of the week was stressful; calls to the insurance company, revisiting the crash site to look for the license plate (our insurance company felt it was important we find it), cleaning out the truck at the tow center, shopping for a new vehicle and arranging transportation to our places of work with only one car took a toll on our emotions.
We considered not going to the party, but my husband thought it would be good for us to get out of the house. The first thing the party’s host said upon our arrival was, “It is about time you got here. We were taking bets as to whether or not you’d show up.” I told him about the accident. He acted as if I was blowing it out of proportion. He said he had been in two car accidents and that you just collect your insurance money and move on with life. We didn’t talk to him again all evening. One of our former wine tasting friends asked when we were going to have another summer party. It was on the tip of my tongue to say “never” you guys drink too much. Another asked us to check our schedule; he wants to host a party in a couple of months. I enjoyed catching up with some of our former friends, but as we were leaving, I couldn’t help noticing how drunk some of them were.
My husband is glad we went. He says he now knows for sure he is making the right decision; it is a waste of our time to socialize with these people. It is too late to change the rules. They won’t understand if we say we want to be friends, but in a non-drinking capacity. It is interesting to note my husband received more compassion about his accident from Kerry a total stranger and co-workers who barely know his name than from someone he has known for twenty years.
So here is another lesson for my “Letter to my 18 year-old self:” friends who are friends only if you keep them company on a bar stool are not real friends. They are drinking buddies (and most likely alcoholics).