Sober Singles Say Dry Dating Can Be A Grim Waste Of Time

Dating is hell — and it’s even harder when you’re sober.

Yet, thanks in part to an increased interest in health and wellness, more and more people are drinking less, with the International Wine and Spirits Record reporting that alcohol consumption is down across America for three years straight.

But how do you break the ice without a drink — and where can you do it when the usual dating spot is a bar?

“You know little tricks,” Mitch Leff, 32, tells Phicklephilly. The Upper East Sider has been sober since he was 19 when he sought treatment for alcohol addiction. He says he often takes first dates out for ice cream at UES., which has a speak-easy-style bar hidden in the back, or on walks in the park with his miniature Goldendoodle, Mazel.

But he hasn’t given up entirely on traditional bars. One of his longtime favorite places to meet first dates is Nobu Downtown — in part because of the half-dozen nonalcoholic drinks on its mocktail menu.

Though he says he’s now “comfortable” ordering a seltzer or soda, the former health-care worker and current experience coordinator didn’t always feel that way.

“When I was newly sober, I was completely overwhelmed,” he says. He worried that dates wouldn’t be able to get on board with his dry lifestyle. “I was like, ‘I’m never going to find someone.’ ”

And although he’s currently single, he’s sure that he’s not alone in feeling that way about dating and drinking.

“There are so many people who have no idea what they’re doing, and it probably causes them to relapse, ’cause they’re so anxious about dating,” he says.

Since socializing so often involves drinking, Malia Griggs, the social media director of The Daily Beast, finds it hard to go out. For a year after she was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2017, the Brooklynite says she didn’t have a drop of alcohol.

These days, the 31-year-old will have an occasional cocktail, but she says that sobriety has definitely affected the way she socializes.

“I think I’ve been maybe avoiding dating, ’cause I don’t want to explain it over and over,” she says.

She also finds that bars have lost their appeal.

“I think when you’re sober, all the things that are annoying about bars stick out — how loud they are, how expensive they are, how obnoxious other people can be,” Griggs says.

Queens resident Tynan DeLong, 35, agrees. The film director calls booze sobriety a “lifestyle decision” he made over a decade ago, only to find that he got flak half the time for ordering a cheaper, nonalcoholic drink.

But he found it hard to meet people anywhere else during prime dating hours. “Late night options for date spots are pretty limited,” says DeLong, who’s now seeing someone steadily.

Mike Abrusci, 30, agrees.

“It’s hard to think of somewhere after 8 p.m.” for a date that isn’t a bar, says the office-services clerk, who lives in Queens. That’s why he often finds himself at bars, even though he’s never been a drinker.

While restaurants seem an obvious alternative, the pressure of being required to sit through a whole meal on a first date is unappealing, since it gives you no chance to duck out.

“You’re definitely stuck there for as long as the meal takes, whereas, at the bar, you can have a drink and then be like, ‘Oh, I have a thing,’ ” he says.

DeLong also lets his dates know ahead of time that he doesn’t drink — he’s had bad experiences when he hasn’t. Abrusci says he usually tells prospective dates that he’s sober, to filter out any haters. He knows it’s a risky move and that people might overreact and think that it’s “a big deal” — but he’d still rather not waste his time on people who can’t handle it.

“We got to Night of Joy and I was like, I don’t drink,” DeLong says, referring to a Williamsburg bar. His date was confused and cold. “She was like, ‘Then why did you choose this place?’’ It was very mean and that set the tone.”

As far as Griggs is concerned, being sober has had some positive side effects on her dating life. “I feel less fun, but I also feel more mature,” she says, adding that her standard for dates has increased. “You really need to have chemistry with someone — sober chemistry — for the date to work.”

It’s also raised her standard for herself.

 

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Conan the Barbarian

 Philadelphia, PA – 1970s

I always loved comic books as a kid. I liked the artwork and the stories. Something that many people don’t know is that Marvel Comics were always written at a college reading level. So reading comics is a good thing.

I was never really into superhero comics because I just felt that those stories had been played out by the 1970s. I loved horror comics like The Unexpected, Tales from the Crypt, The Witching Hour, etc. The stories were always fun, and many had cool twists at the ends of them.

But my favorite comic series of all time was Conan the Barbarian. What I loved about the character is the same reason my father always loved Batman. He was just a regular guy. No superpowers. Just his strength and wits.

Whereas Batman was a millionaire playboy who donned a costume to fight crime with his cool car and gadgets, Conan solved most of his problems with a broad sword.

Here’s a link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conan_the_Barbarian

Conan lived in a savage world, filled with other barbarians, crazy kings, wizards, scary monsters, and hot women.

I wasn’t good at sports and was kind of a nervous wimp as a kid. I would disappear into my fantasy world of comics for hours on end as I listened to my records. I liked Conan because he was buffed, brave, and nearly indestructible. He was constantly pitted against those who wanted to destroy him and rule the world. He solved pretty much every problem he faced with a swift swing of his broad sword. He didn’t even have a costume. Just a necklace, a pair of shorts, and sandals. That, and his trusty cutlass.

There’s only way to deal with the coils of the Man-Serpent!

Being a timid kid I wished I could solve my problems with the bullies and teachers in school in much the same way as Conan faced his adversaries. On top of all of that, Conan was always surrounded by attractive scantily clad women. What teenage boy wouldn’t want to be Conan the Barbarian? A kick-ass warrior and a chick magnet? Count me in!

Red Sonja

Red Sonja - Wikipedia

Valeria

Arnie and Sandahl Bergman (Valeria) from the movie Conan the Barbarian. | Conan the barbarian movie, Conan the barbarian, Sword and sorcery

Belit

Fan Casting Ruth Kearney as Bêlit in Conan the Barbarian on myCast

All babes, that could kick ass side by side with Conan!

Conan was a beast and a ruffian, but he always had a soft spot in his hardened heart for the fairer sex. But I digress…

The series began in 1970 and were based on the stories by Robert E. Howard. So it was some hardcore sword and sorcery stuff originally written in the pulp paperbacks and now had been brought to life in the Marvel series.

The stories were amazing, filled with twists, turns crazy battle sequences, and loads of huge monsters of every kind imaginable. The writing was on point and I owned them all! But the best part of the series in the first 22 issues, was the incredible artwork by Barry Smith.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barry_Windsor-Smith

Other than Neal Adam’s Batman, and Johnny Romita’s Spiderman, Barry Smith was my favorite comic book artist. The way he drew Conan and the other characters made you feel like you were living back in that time and place. It really added to the realism of the stories from that period. Each panel on every page was like a little piece of artwork. If you get a chance, please look up the art of Barry Smith. Conan was the only comic he ever drew. It’s what made those first 22 issues so incredible. That coupled with the great stories made for an amazing storytelling experience. I’m going to look for a compendium of those early issues and read them all again!

Being an insane fan of the American hard rock band, Aerosmith I would listen to their music while I read the comics. I loved guitarist Joe Perry and guess who Barry Smith’s Conan looked like?

Yep… Joe Perry.

Alison Lucas (goldilox1964) on Myspace | Aerosmith, Joe perry, Rock and roll

So it made me love them both even more!

I was a wimp and Conan and Joe were superheroes to me. They both had long black hair and rocked out the only way they knew how. Conan with his broad sword, and Joe with his guitar!

I would vanish into the music and stories in my bedroom and wished I could one day become one of these guys. I would sneak a little flashlight into my room at night and read the comics in bed. The trick was to place the flashlight in your armpit and then you could hold the comic while the light shown on the pages.

So Conan and my other comics helped me survive my adolescence.

 

1983 – California

I was working at Merlin McFly’s in Santa Monica as a cashier at the kitchen. I was the guy you came to if you wanted to order food at this magic-themed bar and grill.

I wrote about my experience there last year:

California Dreamin’ – 1982 to 1984 – Merlin McFly’s

And here…

Chinese Chicken Salad

Anyway, I was standing there like any other night taking people’s food orders and just doing my thing. It was maybe around 7 pm and night when this tall gentleman walked up in a green polo shirt to place his food order. The first thing I noticed was his huge biceps.

“Can I get a Merlin McFly Burger and a Southwest salad?”

“Yes, Sir!” I nervously wrote down his order on a ticket to give to the cooks behind me. Thinking quickly, I reached for the only piece of paper I could find. It was a laundry receipt that was in a bag of freshly washed blue cloth napkins we used to line the baskets of fried appetizers.

Here’s the Packing List for 100 Blue Visa Napkins

I pushed a scrap of paper and pen toward this customer and spoke:

“I loved you as Conan the Barbarian, may I have your autograph?”

“What’s your name?”

“Chaz!”

The man begins to write my name and sign the paper.

“I spell Chaz with a Z!”

He makes a quick correction and slips the paper back to me.

“Thank you! We’ll call you when your food is ready, Sir!”

There he was, the living personification of my comic book hero. The actor and bodybuilder who brought my hero to the silver screen standing before me ordering a burger.

But at that moment I saw this guy:

Conan!

Conan holding his “Problem Solver!”

It was such an exciting event to meet one of my heroes.

To be honest, I’ve never felt that any Conan the Barbarian films ever captured the true spirit of the early Marvel Comic books. Conan was never as popular as many of the beloved superhero characters that people adore today, but that never mattered to me. Conan will always live in my heart as a fond childhood memory that belongs to me.

Here’s the back of the slip with Arnold’s autograph!

Just think, back then I would never have guessed Arnold would become a character even more famous than Conan, (The Terminator) but also later become the governor of California!

On a final side note, my father once met his wife Maria Schriver in Atlantic City and got a chance to speak with her at an event. He told her how much I loved her super cool husband and his movies!

Every Arnold Schwarzenegger Movie Ranked From Worst to Best

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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Thanksgiving Tradition

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here’s one from 2017

My family has always celebrated Thanksgiving, but Christmas was always our big holiday. I’m always welcome at my older sister Janice’s house every year. She has a big house and we refer to her place as Holiday Headquarters. There was one year many years ago when I was invited to go to my other sister Gabrielle’s house all the way down in North Wildwood, New Jersey. Back then I was newly divorced, and I just didn’t feel like making the drive all the way down there. My daughter was little then and with her Mom and that side of the family for Thanksgiving. I was just happy that my ex-wife was out of the house and out of my life for that matter. I was looking forward to a day of listening to music, watching movies, and eating and drinking. I like to be alone. I’m a very social animal, and I get my energy from those around me, but I just wanted a day of sweet nothing and solitude.

I lived in Woodbury, NJ back then. I drove over to the local convenient store and picked up a box of frozen Ellio’s Pizza. It’s a cheap and tasty treat I have loved since I was a lad. The lady at the counter says, “I hope you’re not eating that for Thanksgiving!” I coolly replied, “Oh, no. My daughter loves these things. I always keep them in for her.” (a bald-faced lie)

That night I happily sat on my sofa watching some cool movies, drinking Ketel One vodka and tonics, and eating my delicious Ellio’s Pizza. I had a nice, quiet Thanksgiving. I was grateful to have a family that cared about me and most of all that little Lorelei was in the world.

So I joked around with my sisters about that day, and of course, they felt bad for me. They didn’t want me eating frozen pizza and drinking liquor by myself on Thanksgiving, but that’s what I really wanted to do that day. So it’s sort of becoming a family joke every year for Thanksgiving. It came up again this year when I declined my sister’s invitation. It’s not that I didn’t want to see her, but I’ve seen her a lot lately, and my parents have passed, so what’s the point? Once the main anchors of a family die, usually the children retreat to their own little families. She understood and we’ll all get together at her annual holiday party in December at Holiday Headquarters.

I went to the Midtown Diner and had a huge breakfast at the counter. Scrambled eggs, bacon, and french toast. It’s too much food, but I crushed it all and it was delicious. I went back to my house and did some writing. Lorelei escaped the clutches of having to spend Thanksgiving with her mother. She went to her boyfriend’s mother’s house. She’s a hard-core vegan and made some really creative dishes. I’m glad she’s happy and I’m sure they were glad to have her there for the holiday.

I finished a chapter and wanted to get something to eat around 4:30. I left the house and walked down to South street. Everything was closed, but I didn’t feel like going into Walgreens where I’d have to get something to heat up or bake in the oven. Then I looked to the left and remembered there was a new 7-Eleven a block away.

I stopped in and was surprised at all of the people in there buying stuff. Maybe I could start a little Thanksgiving club with them. They could come over with a load of 7-Eleven food and I’d supply the booze. I picked up some things and headed back to the house.

The city was deserted. Dark and eerily quiet because everybody was off doing their family things. I got home, went to my desk, and fired up an old episode of Columbo on Netflix. I poured myself a vodka and club soda. I don’t drink Ketel One anymore at home. Too expensive. I only have it out now in a martini, straight up with a twist. My current brand is Platinum X7 by Sazerac. A 1.75 bottle is $20. My favorite thing to mix it with is Polar club soda with lemon that I buy by the liter at Walgreens. I tore open the small bag of Lay’s potato chips. Then opened the box that contained the quarter-pound 7-Eleven hot dog, and spread mustard along its length.

Changed it up this year! Wanted to send a pic to all of my sisters but decided against it.

A man who can sit in a room alone and be satisfied is a man who has found inner peace.” – My Dad

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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