It is no secret that before I entered the lifestyle I drank too much. In truth, I was consuming a 1.75 liter bottle rum in about 2-3 days, every day for well over a year. I was trying to drink myself to death, like Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. I truly believed that my life as it was had come to an end and that I was killing time until death overcame me, so I might as well “enjoy” it. My marriage and my relationships with my kids and my friends were all affected by this attitude and relationship to alcohol, and not for the better.
The only thing that intervened with this dysfunctional alcohol relationship was my entering the lifestyle. I felt instinctually and from my earliest beginnings that if I wanted to be successful at swinging, I could not drink. I joked with myself (and with the partial truth that went along with it) that I was an asshole when I drank, and who wants to fuck an asshole? (Well… when you put it that way… I do! But I digress once again.) So… from the first night out at the swing club, I was sober by choice. After my first sexy encounter I knew I had to stop drinking altogether, and within weeks of that lovely sexy time, I quit drinking. Despite social anxiety, occasional swinger fuckups, ED, and plenty of other emotional land mines that alcohol might smooth over, I didn’t drink.
Not drinking is my standard operating procedure now, but it is a little strange for me to sometimes to see just how enmeshed it can be for other people. My club (like many swing clubs) is BYOB, so each couple’s account has their own personal liquor associated with it. For the first hour after the club opens, the bar is packed with people looking to socialize and relax. Hardly any play happens this early in the night. Then slowly, as people settle in to their comfort zones and talk turns to flirting and flirting leads to play, one by one (or two by two if you want to get technical) people head off to the rooms for sexy play. However this pattern can change with the vibe of the evening. Sometimes people get so engaged in the social aspect, the clock can strike midnight and everybody reacts with, “Holy crap we haven’t fucked yet!” and then head all at once to the rooms. This amuses me a little (I am really not judging) because Wisdom and I will occasionally play by ourselves first (this is a variant on Dan Savage’s “Fuck First” rule), partially to make sure we get a room early, an in part because we can sexy ourselves into a playful mindset more easily than jumping right into intros and conversations. We both want to stay in the moment, and for both of us that means abstaining from any alcohol during both social time and playtime.
This has occasionally led to a few awkward situations. One of the most generous moments while meeting new people can be when a couple wants to “buy you a drink.” I have slowly learned to graciously acknowledge the offer while politely declining but encouraging the other couple to go ahead. This can also happen on a couple’s date, where our new friends want a few beers or drinks to help the conversation along, while Wisdom and I drink water. I find the best way to get over this is for Wisdom or I to lead the conversation if possible and make everyone feel at ease. It gets a little less weird when everyone is comfortable. Sometimes, it is difficult for some people to fully understand. One New Year’s Eve party, I was talking with a VERY drunk individual who insisted that I share a drink from his champagne bottle. He was a great guy earlier, but he had passed the threshold from happily tipsy and was racing down the rails to shitfaced drunk. I decided to accede to his request taking a sip, not much more than a taste, to avoid a confrontation that I thought was unnecessary. That was the first alcohol to touch my lips in a year. That choice was a compromise. Where are my limits, do I think this encounter will be better or worse for my keeping those limits? Am I willing to accept the consequences? I had to do this real-time, like most lifestyle encounters, and very early in my swinging life. If the same thing were to happen today, I might choose differently, mainly because I have a few more tools to call upon.
Finally, there is the issue of consent; mildly tipsy is still capable of giving consent where shit faced drunk is not. One night I came home to find Wisdom sleeping in bed after a few drinks. Before touching her too intimately, I asked her, “Are you capable of giving consent?” Wisdom later told me that was one of the most beautiful things I have ever said to her. Consent is very, very sexy! Sometimes I find it difficult to judge when my partners might be riding that edge between capable to give consent and not. In most cases I will ask, and in most cases the answer is ,“Yes, I am capable.” But I also use my own judgment. I have had more than one occasion where a lovely lady has had a few too many and leaned unsteadily upon me looking for play. At those moments, this loveliness loses some of its shine, as I now find inebriation not sexy at all. I decline as kindly as I know how, suggest we meet another time perhaps, and move on. I walk away from these situations sometimes second guessing myself, asking if there is a kinder way I might have said “No.”
I also have worries regarding a major event, like a swinger cruise or (the ultimate Swingset event) Desire. It is a bucket list goal of mine to attend Desire with Cooper and the other Swingset hosts. But part of the experience (and expense) of such an event is the all you can eat (and drink) feature. I am certain with all the awesome (and sexy) people in one place that not drinking will not be a major obstacle (especially with other activities we could share in…) but I still feel a bit alien. Of all the quirky features I bring to the lifestyle (blogging, nerdiness, male bisexuality, ED, etc.), often I feel that not drinking makes me the most outlier (except for occasionally the male bisexuality, but that is a different article). But outlier or no, I hope that other people who choose to swing sober continue to do so. I think we add an interesting play option to the lifestyle. I also deeply believe that the lifestyle should be a safe place for people who choose not to drink, whether by choice or by addiction.
“If I had been God
I would have rearranged the veins in the face to make them more resistant to alcohol and less prone to aging”
Roger Waters “Deja-Vu”
Thank you so much, Salmon, for bringing this up!
My wife and I are on the shallow end of the swing pool (same-room & flirting, but no swap…. yet….) and the booze obsession is probably the most uncomfortable aspect of the whole thing.
Our idea of drinking is a cold cider mid-afternoon, or a glass of pinot grigio with dinner. Any more than that, and we feel like we aren’t fully present to appreciate and enjoy what’s going on.
There’s nothing fun, now that we’re 30, about getting so drunk you can’t remember which way the washroom is. That got lame after 2nd year undergrad!