The strangest places

Perceptions are an odd thing I’ve decided.  The other day my son asked me how I survived in the Police Force being a non-drinker.  I told him that I didn’t know any different, but unlike a lot of my peers I didn’t spend a lot of time socialising at the Police Club which in those days was adjacent to Russell Street Police Station and always full of coppers, most of them off duty, unless you were a detective and then given you were on duty all the time it didn’t really matter whether you were on or off shift, if you get my drift.

Anyway, the truth was that I was never at my best in crowds or social situations.  I was shy, I didn’t enjoy smoky, beery environments, and at the time, I was a young married man with a couple of young sons and I much preferred being home than out.  I don’t think I was ever given any credit for that.  And that doesn’t mean I think I deserved it, just that the homeliness wasn’t appreciated.

The being home thing is the one true trait that reveals me as a Cancerian I guess and not much has changed over the long years since.   Looking back [and maybe some of you who have regularly read this blog will know] my loner personality was evident pretty early in life.  I’ve heard recently that someone I used to be close to had described me as a boring man and as someone no one would look twice at, and to be fair, that has an element of truth.   Social situations and building relationships used to scare the crap out of me.  I’d much rather lock myself at home rather than put myself in a situation where I might have been vulnerable.

So son, if you one day read this.  I have no regrets about spending the time at home rather than getting pissed with my mates.   I wonder sometimes whether I may have ended up with closer and better friends than I had, but it is a waste of time wondering for too long.  In the end we do what we do because it seems the right thing at the time.  Sometimes experience and hindsight may tell us that we should have explored some things more fully, that letting walls down and friendships in may not be such a bad thing after all.   But two wise men have left behind two wise comments –

“To thine own self be true.”  and
“I yam what I yam and that’s all I yam”

And for those who don’t recognise the quotes the first is William Shakespeare, the second is Popeye, which simply proves that wisdom can be found in the strangest places.

The strangest places

Perceptions are an odd thing I’ve decided.  The other day my son asked me how I survived in the Police Force being a non-drinker.  I told him that I didn’t know any different, but unlike a lot of my peers I didn’t spend a lot of time socialising at the Police Club which in those days was adjacent to Russell Street Police Station and always full of coppers, most of them off duty, unless you were a detective and then given you were on duty all the time it didn’t really matter whether you were on or off shift, if you get my drift.

Anyway, the truth was that I was never at my best in crowds or social situations.  I was shy, I didn’t enjoy smoky, beery environments, and at the time, I was a young married man with a couple of young sons and I much preferred being home than out.  I don’t think I was ever given any credit for that.  And that doesn’t mean I think I deserved it, just that the homeliness wasn’t appreciated.

The being home thing is the one true trait that reveals me as a Cancerian I guess and not much has changed over the long years since.   Looking back [and maybe some of you who have regularly read this blog will know] my loner personality was evident pretty early in life.  I’ve heard recently that someone I used to be close to had described me as a boring man and as someone no one would look twice at, and to be fair, that has an element of truth.   Social situations and building relationships used to scare the crap out of me.  I’d much rather lock myself at home rather than put myself in a situation where I might have been vulnerable.

So son, if you one day read this.  I have no regrets about spending the time at home rather than getting pissed with my mates.   I wonder sometimes whether I may have ended up with closer and better friends than I had, but it is a waste of time wondering for too long.  In the end we do what we do because it seems the right thing at the time.  Sometimes experience and hindsight may tell us that we should have explored some things more fully, that letting walls down and friendships in may not be such a bad thing after all.   But two wise men have left behind two wise comments –

“To thine own self be true.”  and
“I yam what I yam and that’s all I yam”

And for those who don’t recognise the quotes the first is William Shakespeare, the second is Popeye, which simply proves that wisdom can be found in the strangest places.

If I’d been a drinker…

I sometimes wonder how life would have turned out if I’d been a drinker. As a non-drinker I spent much of my teenage years and early adulthood being the observer rather than the participator which is a topic I’ve touched on many times before. I missed out on the social relaxation that alcohol seems to induce – of course I missed out on the sore heads, vomiting and drunken brawls that it sometimes leads to as well.

Still I was often appreciated as the designated driver amongst friends and certainly amongst my copper work colleagues before such a thing became the norm. In those early days in the police force, however, when there was a hard working, hard drinking, hard playing culture, it took a little time to gain the trust of some colleagues as a non-drinker. There was an innate suspicion of someone who didn’t embrace the culture and maybe that observer status made me seem a little aloof or perhaps a little too straight and narrow for some people. Often when introduced to people and asked if I wanted a drink I’d say that I was a non-drinker and be treated with a look of incredulity. Just as often I’d find myself written off as someone not worthy to talk to thus reinforcing, in my mind anyway, that feeling of separateness. So it often took me a little longer to fit into groups and made me reluctant to put myself into those situations. If the boys went out for a night of drinking and playing, I’d usually try and find an excuse not to go.

Not sure how the culture is in other countries but over here in a pub situation it is considered normal to be part of a drinking school. That means everyone in the group will buy a round of drinks and if you didn’t you’d end p being labelled as someone who woldn’t shout if a shark bit him or as someone whio kept their hands in their pockets meaning you were too frugal or lousy to shout someone a drink. So I learn that it was better for me to make sure I bought the first round. That way I could sit on my coke whilst everyone else got slowly shitfaced on beer because, let’s face it, there’s only so much Coke you can drink. There’d be that familiar look of disdain if when in a drinking school you said that you’d have a coke instead of a beer, so I’d use the old joke about having used to snort Coke but I didn’t like the bubbles getting up my nose, which worked as a bit of a tension breaker.

I wrote a couple of posts ago about son number 1 being down from Canberra and bemoaned the fact that I likely would not see much of him. Most people said that I shouldn’t worry about that just try and understand that he’d be pretty busy catching up with his mates. And I do understand that, it’s just that I wonder if I’d been a drinker whether or not I’d also have been invited to the pub for a few drinks with him or not. I also wonder whether my own relationship with my Dad would have been different too.

If I’d been a drinker…

I sometimes wonder how life would have turned out if I’d been a drinker. As a non-drinker I spent much of my teenage years and early adulthood being the observer rather than the participator which is a topic I’ve touched on many times before. I missed out on the social relaxation that alcohol seems to induce – of course I missed out on the sore heads, vomiting and drunken brawls that it sometimes leads to as well.

Still I was often appreciated as the designated driver amongst friends and certainly amongst my copper work colleagues before such a thing became the norm. In those early days in the police force, however, when there was a hard working, hard drinking, hard playing culture, it took a little time to gain the trust of some colleagues as a non-drinker. There was an innate suspicion of someone who didn’t embrace the culture and maybe that observer status made me seem a little aloof or perhaps a little too straight and narrow for some people. Often when introduced to people and asked if I wanted a drink I’d say that I was a non-drinker and be treated with a look of incredulity. Just as often I’d find myself written off as someone not worthy to talk to thus reinforcing, in my mind anyway, that feeling of separateness. So it often took me a little longer to fit into groups and made me reluctant to put myself into those situations. If the boys went out for a night of drinking and playing, I’d usually try and find an excuse not to go.

Not sure how the culture is in other countries but over here in a pub situation it is considered normal to be part of a drinking school. That means everyone in the group will buy a round of drinks and if you didn’t you’d end p being labelled as someone who woldn’t shout if a shark bit him or as someone whio kept their hands in their pockets meaning you were too frugal or lousy to shout someone a drink. So I learn that it was better for me to make sure I bought the first round. That way I could sit on my coke whilst everyone else got slowly shitfaced on beer because, let’s face it, there’s only so much Coke you can drink. There’d be that familiar look of disdain if when in a drinking school you said that you’d have a coke instead of a beer, so I’d use the old joke about having used to snort Coke but I didn’t like the bubbles getting up my nose, which worked as a bit of a tension breaker.

I wrote a couple of posts ago about son number 1 being down from Canberra and bemoaned the fact that I likely would not see much of him. Most people said that I shouldn’t worry about that just try and understand that he’d be pretty busy catching up with his mates. And I do understand that, it’s just that I wonder if I’d been a drinker whether or not I’d also have been invited to the pub for a few drinks with him or not. I also wonder whether my own relationship with my Dad would have been different too.