I’ve been craving beer. Not in a creepy alcoholic way; I’m actually really enjoying my perpetual state of sobriety. More in a “bizarre pregnant food craving” way.
After a little war with myself about the ethics of drinking something as WRONG as non-alcoholic beer, I decided I’d pick some up. I could have my fun and rest easy knowing I was drinking something that had less alcohol in it than the herbal supplements I take occassionally. I’m well aware that occassional moderate drinking is not harmful to a fetus, especially now that I’m in the second trimester. But the “no alcohol for pregnant ladies” thing is so total in this country, I’ve been brainwashed into not doing it, which has really got to be the healthier choice. I mean, I don’t think one drink is going to cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, but I know alcohol is not as good for me as say, water, or juice, and I’m guessing it’s not exactly beneficial to baby either.
I went to the liquor store. I grabbed a six-pack of Magic Hat Humble Patience for the boys and then asked one of the sales reps if they sold non-alcoholic beer. I know they sell that stuff at convenience stores where they can’t sell regular beer, so I thought maybe a real liquor store wouldn’t bother with it.
They had some, they had a whole cabinet of the stuff. The guy showed it to me and wandered off. While I was standing there checking to make sure it realy was alcohol free, one of his co-workers came up to me. He was a small soft-spoken black man wearing a Mr. Roger’s cardigan and a nice smile. He offered to help. He asked me if the beer was for me, and I said yes. He showed me on the label where the alcohol content is listed as less than 0.5% of alcohol by volume. I thought that was fine and contemplated if i wanted a pseudo-guinness or a pseudo-bass.
Somehow, Mr. Smiley got between me and the liquor cabinet and said, “If you don’t mind, can I ask you, is it you who will be drinking it?”
and I said yes, and added, “I’m pregnant, and I don’t want to drink regular beer.” because I felt like I needed an excuse to be in a liquor store shopping for something so weird.
He nodded like this was patently obvious, which it probably was. My stomach has gone from that “too many cookies” look to that “when are you due?” look in the space of about a week. Wild.
Then he said, “Well, if you don’t mind, can I ask you a question? Do you need it?”
I just stared at him. I had no idea what he was asking me.
Then he launched into this diatribe about how the more non-alcoholic beer I drank, the more that 0.5% of alcohol would build up in my system. I nodded, because I didn’t feel like correctly his incredibly faulty logic in presuming that one could get as much alcohol from this crap as one could from real beer. Clearly he’d missed some basic health lesson on the existence of a metabolism. But never mind. I just wanted to get my “beer” and go home.
Feeling like he’d proved his point, he then went on to explain to me how it might be OK if I drank just one of these things, but what would happen if I bought this “beer” was that I would chug one and then immediately gulp the next and my baby would be in the hospital for the rest of its life. He actually said that. He said, “If you can possibly stop yourself, just think what a gift you give your baby, to come into this world healthy instead of spending its entire life in the hospital. Its only one year. Then you can drink as much as you want.”
While I tried to cope with my indignation enough to choke out some kind of logical defense like “I’m not an alcoholic,” or “Fuck you!”, he plowed bravely ahead. “What you should do,” he encouraged me, “is pray. Pray to god to give you the strength not to drink until you have your baby. He will help you.”
“I am really, really done with this,” I snapped. And then I stormed out.
When I got home I threw the outraged intelligent feminist wobbly I should have thrown in this asshole’s face, and then I had half of one of those Magic Hat’s, which satisfied my beer craving and helped me calm down after being essentially assaulted.
That jerk is really, really, really lucky I’m not a bad witch in the Wizard of Oz sense of the word.