Dating while dry

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm doing a talkback after tonight's performance of "Reasons to Be Pretty" at the BCA. I have some tickets I'd like to give away, so here's the contest: Because the play is about a woman who finds out that her boyfriend has described her appearance as "regular," as in average, I want you to email me (meregoldstein at gmail dot com) the best/worst physical compliment/insult you've ever received from a partner. My favorite entries will get tickets to tonight's show, which starts at 7:30. Entries are due by 1 p.m. I'll notify winners by 2. Sound good? It's a great play and it'll be a very fun night out with good, post-show Love Letters talk.

(For the record, the worst thing I've ever been told about my appearance was: "I'm sure there are a lot of guys out there who like your body type." Yikes.)

Hi Meredith,

This past year I was diagnosed with epilepsy and my days of enjoying cocktails at the bars of Back Bay are, much to my 27-year-old chagrin, currently shelved alongside my dating books. One of those very books on that shelf says that dating at this age without adult beverages is virtually impossible, and I can assure you that is a fact. I recently went on a first date and couldn't have my patented first date glass (or 3) of wine.

The date went surprisingly well and at 2 a.m. it was time to go home. Thank god, because Cute Boy was clearly digging this Back Bay blonde and I wanted to ride the wave to date number two. Here's where it got awkward. Ugh. He made a comment about me not drinking. "So I need to ask you, are you always dry?" The question was fine. I mean, it is weird when people don't drink and you don't know why. But here's the thing -- we hadn't met up on our date until midnight (I was tied up at work before then), so really, for all he knew I could have been taking shots until I met up with him and simply switched to water, right?

Here is my problem, Meredith. It made me feel insecure because I wasn't about to go into some soliloquy (even though he had quoted Shakespeare earlier in the night -- Pro #43) about why I don't drink.

After he made the comment about me being dry, it kind of ruined the moment. He ended up saying, "Maybe I'll see you around Back Bay this weekend." (Awesome, Cute Boy. See you at Shaws. I'll be in the H20 aisle.) Apparently I am cursed to a life of dating guys who don't drink -- or really, really drunk guys at the Beacon Hill Pub who are so blacked out they don't notice I'm drinking water. And I don't want to "fake drink" like some friends have suggested because I'm not a liar and I think that is simply ridiculous.

Funny thing is, Mere, I was drinking club soda, which looks same as the vodka-soda I normally drink, but I never get my drinks with a lime because Matt Lauer, the love of my life, says it's the germiest thing in the bar.

So what should I do Meredith? Stalk AA Meetings? Fake Drink?

– Dry Blonde in Back Bay

There are ways to answer the booze question without getting into specifics, DBIBB. You can try, "I'm on meds that don't mesh well with booze." Or, "I'm a vodka-tonic girl, but only on special occasions." There's also the good old, "I can't drink much because of a health condition. But I make a fantastic designated driver."

You don't have to get into the whole epilepsy thing, but you do have to come up with some sort of answer. And as long as you're easygoing about that answer, it'll be OK.

The right guys aren't going to freak out about your dryness, especially if you seem comfortable with it. And I'm pretty sure that Matt Lauer would agree with me when I say that alcohol isn't a necessary part the courting process. It helps -- I'm not going to lie about that -- but it's possible to woo without booze. Dry wooing is the ultimate woo. And you, my friend, are clever enough to make it happen.

This is more about you becoming comfortable with your illness. It takes time to figure out how to deal with a chronic health problem as a tiny part of your identity. Once you can talk about it without it meaning too much, explaining it (and your lack of drinking on dates) will be a breeze. It just takes practice.

Readers? Does she have to be honest about why she doesn't drink on dates? What's the best way to explain it? Is fake drinking a real option? Is alcohol necessary on first dates? Is this really about learning how to cope with an illness? Discuss.

– Meredith