But even if you're not trying to out-spice your friends for social approval, you probably agree that the bland, white-bread, "tip-a-can-of-Campbell's-soup-over-some-plain-noodles-and-call-it-dinner" style of eating is the opposite of trendy right now. It's so untrendy that even hipsters don't do it. The hippest hipster in town might raid his grandparents' house for frayed suspenders and listen to ska music from 1986, but would he Instagram himself eating American cheese on Wonder Bread for dinner? No, that's just beyond the pale.
And yet there are plenty of legitimate reasons to avoid spicy food. Perhaps it doesn't agree with your stomach. Perhaps you don't like the heat of a thousand blazing suns spreading through your head cavities. Perhaps you prefer to get your culinary excitement from seeing how many marshmallows you can fit into a microwave at one time. I don't know, I'm not judging. But it doesn't matter, because if you prefer not to eat spicy, congratulations, you're a food pariah. You'll be hanging out with your friends, and they'll want to order Thai, and you'll be like "I don't like spicy food," and the host will go to the pantry and very slowly get a can of Campbell's soup and silently heat it up while staring at you right in the eyes.
"Mmm, smells like old people farts. Thanks, shitweed."
Depending on your race, you'll probably also get a bunch of jokes about how you're a typical white person, or how you're really a white person on the inside, because only white people can't handle hot food. This is because the Spicy Food Enforcers who make these jokes are apparently unaware that the last white person who couldn't deal with spicy food for cultural reasons died of old age in 1983, and that most of the young people indulging in pointless Scoville-scale one-upping are so lily-white that the coughed-up flecks of ghost peppers stand out against their pasty cheek-skin like blood on a field of snow.
But ethnic stereotypes from 1977 are still apparently okay, as long as we're judging people with different taste preferences than our own. If we can tolerate vegans mournfully eyeing our plates of bacon while doodling pictures of baby piggies on their napkins, we should learn to be okay with the guy that just feels like eating mac and cheese for dinner. And speaking of dietary habits, another thing we just can't tolerate is ...
People in today's society enjoy social activities that our ancestors would never have dreamed of. If you tell people you spent last Saturday night at a gay bar, that's cool with everyone. Even if you tell people that it was a gay bar for people who enjoy The Walking Dead, most people will still be on board. But if you were at that gay bar and you weren't drinking? That's getting kind of weird, dude. Any long-term non-drinker will tell you that informing people of one's teetotaling habits in a bar is often received as well as a yarmulke at an ISIS party. After all, you're in a bar. Why else would anyone go to a bar if not to drink? To talk to other people? Ha!
"I'm just here for that weird moldy smell that's coming from the sink."
I think non-drinkers get this reaction because they make the people around them feel guilty. Your average drinker is out somewhere to relax and intoxicate himself, and then all of a sudden there's a non-drinker in his face, gearing up (he assumes) to silently judge his deteriorating drunken antics with a non-drunk, terrifyingly clear brain. There's a good chance that this drinker had already started imbibing when his friend declined a drink, which means his inhibitions are lowered, and the little angel on his shoulder that usually slams his jaw closed when he's about to say something rude has gone off to get a gin and tonic. So instead of simply saying "Oh" and changing the subject to how much he hates The Walking Dead like a normal person, he'll instead try to push alcohol on the non-drinker like the bad guy in a high school PSA.
"It's called 'beer.' All the cool kids are doing it."
And it's not like the non-drinker can always just explain their reasons for not consuming alcohol. Not everyone wants to talk about personal issues with people they don't know that well, especially if they involve something serious like a history of addiction or a medical problem. Talking about that stuff is difficult at the best of times, and it's a billion times more so when you're surrounded by uninhibited drunk people. Non-drinkers have not only been cursed with a preference that attracts the opinions of insecure assholes, and they've been cursed with a preference that almost exclusively comes up in the environment most conducive to those people being assholes. It's enough to drive you to ... glare really hard at people over your glass of diet soda, I guess.
C. Coville has a Twitter here and a Tumblr here.
For more from C. Coville, check out 5 Internet Pitfalls Faced by the Socially Awkward and 5 Awesome Things With Inexplicably Bad Reputations.
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