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My name is Diana and I'm a non-alcoholic.
I knew there'd be no alcohol available before I got here. I personally didn't have a problem with it. I enjoy my beer, but seem to lack the ability to become addicted to anything. I miss beer in the same sense I miss wearing civilian clothing and sleeping in my own bed. These are things I associate with relaxation, peace and prosperity, but can readily walk away from and forget as long as necessary.
So when I arrived in this godforsaken dustbowl, I was surprised to learn that, while regular beer is forbidden here, near beer is plentiful. (Near-beer is marketed as "nonalcoholic" or "alkoholfrei," but it does have some alcohol--less that .5%.)
I first noticed it in the chow hall. I saw several cases of Budweiser N.A. in the cooler, so out of curiosity, I grabbed a can. It was horrible. I mean, real Budweiser is nothing to scream about, but the N.A. stuff would gag a maggot.
A week or so later, Jeff offered me a Warsteiner he'd bought in the PX. Against my better judgement (from the Bud N.A. experience), I tried it. It was surprisingly tasty.
A note about Iraq, in case you missed this: you drink constantly here. I mean, you drink. You work to keep yourself hydrated. Having "a drinking problem" here means you haven't drunk enough and you're dehydrated. Huge bottles of water are chilled and free for the taking almost everywhere, and the chow hall offers Gatorade, cokes, milk and iced tea, as well as near beer. I drink milk with my meals, usually, but I'm not much of a soda pop drinker and I weary of drinking water constantly. Near beer, I discovered, is the perfect fill-in.
We acquired a cooler (Jeff calls this "identifying a broken chain of custody") and have since kept the cooler in our office with cold frosties. We get all the free ice we need from one of the Ice Distribution Points and stop at the PX (boasting the world's finest selection of near beer) once or twice a week to refresh our supply. We usually go with the Warsteiner at $3.75 per 6-pack.
The beautiful thing about this beer* is that you can drink as much as you want of it anytime, anywhere. There are times and places it might be best to succumb to peer pressure and hide your bottle. (For instance, when I MC'd the Change of Command ceremony, I hid my bottle under the lectern where the colonels had their eyeglasses.) For the most part, though, drink to your heart's content.
* Note the smooth transition from "near beer" to "beer." After a couple of weeks of drinking it, it becomes real beer to you. It still has no effect, of course--other than making you need to pee a lot--much like the normal stuff.
Not only is it tasty, but it lends a relaxed and enjoyable air to whatever I'm doing. I take beer to staff meetings, site visits, CGOC meetings*, and anywhere else I go. Because I drink as much as I do, I've gained a reputation as a non-alcoholic.
That isn't true. I can quit anytime.
Company Grade Officer Council. In the States, the CGOC busies itself raising money and committing senseless acts of charity. This can be a challenge under normal conditions. Here, however, where everything we need is (1) free and (2) in abundance, raising money on any scale is a pipe dream. Then there's that little problem of going to visit old folk's homes or donate to schools off-post where people are being beheaded.
I've gotten quite a few double-takes from people. My commander has never said a word to me about it. He's a sensible man who may have had the standard visceral reaction the first time he saw us sitting at the conference table for the morning Stand-Up* with beers, but never said anything.
* This is a daily ritual where the rank of the squadron goes over the projects they're putting off or haven't followed up on, and finds out what equipment is broken, destroyed or missing. The meeting usually consists of questions from the commander and a chorus of I-don't-know-but-I'll-find-out-Sir's.
The standard visceral reaction seems to be centered around our society's notion that beer is something that is only drunk after work or at football games and/or only by low-class slobs. (I resent the association as I'm most certainly not a slob.) They look at me as though beer simply shouldn't taste right while I'm still at work. (You can drink coffee before bed and nobody blinks. But drink a beer for breakfast....) Some of them make comments designed to let me know they noticed every time I walk by with a beer in my hand, as if to imply I should be ashamed or to nudge me into considering the possibility that I have a problem*.
* For the record, I do have a problem. It's a four-letter word that starts with "I" and ends with "q." This is unrelated to my enjoyment of beer in the mornings, though.
We offer beer to visitors, as well. It seems only hospitable. One or two have turned them down "because I'm on duty." Weird. I wonder if they forego Dr Pepper until they get home, too.
Others say no, because they don't see the point. I guess I understand their reasoning. I feel that way about decaffeinated coffee.
Have no addictions…HAHA. What about the internet, exercise and sarcasm, for starters?
That was a funny piece though.
Beer for breakfast? Reminds me of college.
You stay safe… and hydrated. And, come back to us in one piece, d.
Hmm. Tal has a point. You do have an unnatural attraction to sarcasm. Much to our delight.
Diana, you ever read Skippy’s List? You might find it relevent and amusing…
www.skippyslist.com 213 things Skippy is no longer allowed to do in the Army.
Diana, you and your “beer” sounds familiar! I have had the same reaction for years when people see me drinking my Diet Coke before 8 am. Most of them have had several cups of coffee (which I don’t drink at all!) by that time, and will actually drink more coffee before bedtime than I will drink of my DC. Go figure…..
Keep writing, Girl. Love your stuff! And you!