A few months ago I was at a fixed menu dinner for work and I had glanced at the menu not really thinking about booze and agreed that it was fine for me — indeed it looked like a great meal with a number of delectable items that I’d surely enjoy. Everything was perfect until I put a spoonful of the vanilla ice cream that accompanied the pecan pie in my mouth. It was made with bourbon.

I was irritated because I hadn’t read the menu carefully. And why does ice cream need bourbon in it? I was sitting next to the sales guy from my my last job and he looked at me, knowing instantly what was wrong, he asked if I was okay and I took a few deep breaths. I said I was as I pushed the ice cream off the pie and took a sip of my coffee. It was in important lesson in vigilance for me.

Yesterday I went to a 50th birthday party for one of my wife’s friends. They’ve known each other for 48 years and if was a great day. To make life easier on themselves they’d hired a pizza maker and a a bartender for the party. The bar had a drink on their menu that was muddled berries with club soda and vodka. I asked for a virgin one because I typically drink club soda anyway.

Fortunately I was watching as the bartender made my drink. She was busy and I know it wasn’t intentional when she instinctively started pouring vodka in my drink. I piped up, probably a bit louder than necessary, “that’s suppose to be virgin!” She apologized and I told her not to worry about it. But I drank water the rest of the day.

Vigilance is being aware of what is going on. It means reading the menu. It means watching your drink get made. It means ordering your son drinks at parties and happy hours. It means never leaving your drink on the table or bar when you are not looking at it. I means paying attention. Awareness. Mindfulness.

I have to be hyper-vigilant at times and truthfully, it can be exhausting. Combine this hyper-vigilance with the fact that I’m an introvert (all be it a social one) and it’s no wonder work functions and to parties are so exhausting for me.

I’ve been feeling worn out today and it’s no wonder. So I’m honoring these feelings and giving myself space to recover.

9 responses to “Vigilance”

    • I’ve done that. A few years ago I was at a NYE concert at the Levin Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY and they were passing out what I thought was champagne, when I said “none for me thanks” the guy knowingly said, “it’s non-alcoholic” and so I got to toast the new year with everyone else. It was pretty cool to be honest.


  1. Recently I ordered water in a restaurant and the person I was with (a sober person) asked me why I didn’t get a soda or seltzer or something else. (The irony of the questioning was lost on me at the time lol) but my answer was, “it’s just easier.” I honestly don’t know how much I had thought that through, but your post lends credence to that strategy!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. As a woman in tech and frequent solo business traveler, this resonates with me. I drink casually at home / with friends, but I spend a lot of time at business events fending off the bottomless wine glass or the well-meaning coworker who got me a cocktail that would put me on the floor. So I have a small window into how exhausting this must be when the consequences are more life-threatening…

    It also resonates with me because I had an acquaintance (female, professional) who was roofied years ago at a big party at one of the major infosec conferences. I used to be your-level-of-vigilant about my drinks at those events; now I just generally avoid the big parties and hope that mitigates the risk. 🙂

    Much respect for your self-awareness here, and your willingness both to make space for these feelings and to share them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lisa. Back in the nineties at an InfoSec vendor’s user conference someone slipped amphetamines into one of my beers. It was one of the worst nights of my life.

      I had an interview for a job with that company the next day. After a night of the sweats and not sleeping I was sure I’d bombed the interview and I was right. I eventually got a job there but it was 2 years later.

      Vigilance with ones drinks (alcoholic or not) is wise for everyone in large crowds.


  3. It is tiring. I often revert to drinks in the can (I am a red bull lover). Otherwise I have had vodka in it a few times.

    I am also celiac, so I am super vigilant about everything I eat. As a result I mostly eat at home.

    Liked by 2 people

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