Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Cat's Out of the Bag

As many of you know, I started a new job last month. The people I work with are quite nice, and at the end of my first week a couple of them invited me to get a drink after work. I was caught off guard by the invitation. The very nice young man who issued the invitation, seeing me sit there slack-jawed and unable to formulate a sentence in response, obviously sensed my hesitation.

"You can think about it," he said, before walking back to his cube. "But we'd love to have you join us."

"Okay!" I bleated to his back. "Let me think about it!"

I sat there, stymied (and embarrassed by my noncommittal response, which I thought probably came across as weird at best, and quite possibly rude). I was in a pickle. See, owing to the 4,782 different medications I'm on, I am not supposed to drink alcohol. I began envisioning different scenarios playing out with my co-workers.

  1. I decline the invitation. This confirms the impression I made with the "I'll think about it" response and they think I'm rude. I will not be getting another invitation. 
  2. I accept the invitation and order a tall frosty glass of lemonade, while everyone else guzzles beer. I am the prim and proper (and disapproving) NON-DRINKER. That's the last time I'm invited to a happy hour. 
  3. I accept the invitation and order an actual alcoholic drink. I get instantly and disgustingly drunk and cause a massive scene. Medics and the police are called to haul me away. I am invited to every happy hour from that point on, as I provide unbeatable entertainment.  
If you guessed that Number 3 is how it played out in real life, you are absolutely correct. Now I am known as the office Life of the Party and have even been offered money to come to people's homes and drink for the sheer amusement I provide other partygoers. 

Okay, fine. That's not really what happened. I went...and ordered a non-alcoholic beer. I thought I could sneak it past the others, but one of them noticed. And commented. It was innocently done. He actually thought it was a regular beer and made some impressed noise as if to say, "Well done! Here we are drinking light beer and you've gone and ordered this Very Manly Strong Beer!" At least, that's how I interpreted his noise. It may have been that he was clearing his throat. Regardless, I seized the moment.

"Oh, nonono! It's not a real beer!" I shouted, over the din created by fellow revelers and a rather sad man playing guitar and warbling songs into a microphone about two feet away. 

"WHAT?" 

"It's a FAKE BEER! I CAN'T DRINK!"

"WHAT?"

I hoisted the beer into his line of sight and pointed to the label. He looked at me as if I were an idiot, which surely I was by this point. 

"FAKE!!" I bellowed. 

He looked at the label and nodded. 

During a lull in the warbling, I felt compelled to press on. By then, the others were talking about basketball scores. I reinserted my beer into the conversation. 

"About the beer," I began. They looked at me blankly. Why was I still talking about it? In an embarrassed rush I explained that I wasn't drinking fake beer by choice. I had to. Because of medication I was taking. Shit. That last bit hung in the air. Now they'd think I was on some antibiotic for a disgusting infection of some kind. Shit again. 

"It has to do with MS. I have MS. Multiple sclerosis," I said, relieved to be done with the explanation. 

They asked a couple of questions, and then we all moved on. It was that simple. I felt better (once I had finished with the awkward and embarrassing shouting). Sometimes, it's unwise to reveal such things. Time will tell. For now, I am okay with being the non-drinking person in the office who happens to have MS. 

12 comments:

  1. Hi!
    you're awfully brave, but your colleagues sound lovely. Sometimes it's just better to get it out in the open like you say and move on!
    The more of us who speak out and let others know we just 'accept' MS as part of our lives, the better. Nothing to be ashamed of anyway, lol.
    Hope work is going well!
    x

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    1. Thanks, SIF. Not sure it was brave, just nothing to be ashamed of, like you said!

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  2. Fortunately my medication still allows me to drink. Or if it doesn't I forget. Some days wine o'clock cannot come around soon enough.
    MS is nothing to be ashamed of - but I would like a dollar (or even fifty cents) for the times I have felt that it was. Sigh. And I love that your colleagues could move on. Nearly as much as I love that they invited you to happy hour. Yay.

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    1. Oooh, lucky!! If I skip one of the 5,391 medications, I can have ONE (1) drink, but it hardly seems worth it at this point. Although, actually, one drink would probably make me as giddy as three might have years ago!

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  3. good for you (although i actually LOL'd at the idea of option 3!)

    personally, i sometimes find it difficult to STOP talking about my MS - not in a "god, my life is so hard" kind-of way, more like "this is something i'm dealing with".

    probably more annoyingly for everyone, i'm the office grammar bore and brand-facist - so people have many more reasons to despise me than just MS!

    (case in point: i searched for the correct way to write "LOL'd" and it still doesn't look right)

    x

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    1. Mr. Domino,

      As the Official U.S. Grammar Bore, I must say I've investigated this LOL business and have come up with what I believe to be the correct way of using it: LedOL. Okay, I admit, it's unwieldy and not nearly as easy as LOL'd, but I think to maintain grammarly grammarness, it must be so. I'd be interested in your thoughts. (Yes, you can be the Official UK Grammar Bore if you like; don't imagine there are many lining up for the...honor.)

      p.s. I, too, spend plenty of time dissecting/discussing my current MS symptoms. Mostly, though, my husband gets treated to this. Lucky dog!

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  4. You write such funny stories....you handled it great. I don't mind not drinking, what is the point is what I think
    Ps I am terrible with grammar

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    1. Thanks, Kim! I seem to do a lot of silly/embarrassing things, and it's fun to write about them. Glad you think they're funny!
      Yeah...drinking used to seem a lot more important. It's been so long I don't mind - except now I am always the designated driver.
      Most people aren't so great w/ grammar, which is good for my job security as an editor!!

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  5. I love your writing.
    I love your honesty.
    I kind of dig ya.

    x

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    1. Awww, that's the nicest thing anyone's said to me all day. Granted, it's just 7am, but STILL. It's probably the nicest thing anyone will say (in his defense, my husband is gone for the day). Thanks for the lovely comments!

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  6. Eh, you did good kid. Although it would have been cool to hear about you being sloshing drunk. Maybe next happy hour!

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    1. Sure...next happy hour it is. Just for you!

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