It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere, Just Not For Me


Albert Respicio

A selection of alcohol, none of which staff writer Albert Respicio found appealing.

Despite being a full year past the legal age to drink, I choose to not drink alcohol.

Drinking and I have never really seen eye-to-eye. In contrast with many of the movies about college binge drinking and throwing up, that kind of life never appealed to me, and I never once felt the need to drink after a long hard day of surviving college.

Within the year since turning 21, I’ve taken a sip of many of the common drinks — like a Truly and a Heineken — to see if my mind would change, but my tastes buds disagreed. And that was fine with me.

The restrictions due to Covid have not helped my desire to go out and drink. On my 21st birthday in October 2020, Covid-19 still had Hawaii under lockdown, and vaccinations were not available yet. Ironically, most of the people who drank at my 21st were all family members in the plus-50 crowd. This year, although I could go out to the bars now, my birthday landed on a Monday and no amount of well-wishes or alcoholic beverages could make any Monday better.

At some point, I’ve felt this unknown pressure from either myself or how I’m perceived because I don’t like to drink alcohol, go out and party, and do what is normally expected as a college student. As a young adult, it’s typical for people my age to go out and party, get drunk, then go to class with a hangover the next day. But it’s not what I would like to spend my free time doing. This unknown pressure grew within me grew as a tipsy friend who called me “weird” for backing out of a drinking game. Drunk words are sober thoughts right?

An October 2021 NIH National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism report estimated that 1,519 college students die each year because of unintentional alcohol-related injuries. In the same report, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 52.5% of full-time college students from 18-22 drank, with 33% binge drinking. The NIAAA also reported 696,000 assaults because of alcohol and a link between alcohol and sexual assaults but admitted “additional survey data [is] needed to better estimate the number of alcohol-related assaults.”

Sure, drinking with friends or others who will look out for you while you’re intoxicated is great, but being unable to stand up after a few too many drinks seems off-putting to me.

For me, the best way to describe alcohol — from church wine, then to Truly, to the Merlot bottles my parents have in the cabinets — was that it was mostly bitter. Ironically, the first time I really tried alcohol was during a weeklong religious retreat during the summer of 2016, and I remember distinctly what I said after we got back to our home groups.

“I know it’s supposed to be holy and everything, but holy sh*t that was terrible,” I said, just loud enough so the people around me could hear.

It got a laugh out of one of the homegroup leaders, but clearly I never enjoyed the taste. It burned on the way in and made me question why anyone would ever want to drink something so bitter and unappetizing repeatedly, and often. Besides if I wanted something sweet then I’d just go get a Coke.

Since starting college, I never cared enough to pick up a beer bottle, a glass of wine, or the red solo cups. I stayed at the University of Hawaii’s freshman tower dorms for a semester and never once went to a party in my two years there. The one football game I did attend, I skipped the pregame and tailgating. Even after transferring to Chaminade in 2019, getting tipsy with others just never seemed like my scene.

I don’t think that drinking regularly will ever be a part of my life. If I never needed it before, I don’t need it now. Sure there is the social aspect of going out to the bars with friends or clubbing, but even prior to Covid, a bunch of sweaty people in clubs sounded gross. Although seeing social media posts of friends who had too much to drink is kind of funny, I never wanted to be on the other side of the camera.

At some point during college I realized that I don’t have to be like everyone else. If my aversion to drinking is just me “being weird,” then I always have been, and that’s fine with me. There are other things I can and will enjoy, but drinking isn’t one of them.