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Talk About It: It's Okay to Be Single (Malt Whiskey)


  We're going to talk about drinking alcohol and being single. Two things I've been really good at. And it's not what you think, this article is not about drinking wine while watching Bridget Jones's Diary alone. You can go ahead and throw that cliche right out of the proverbial window. Instead, we're going to look at two types of people; those who drink to get drunk, and those who drink because they appreciate the taste.

  I won't lie. I've definitely done my share of "drinking to get drunk". This was in my younger days, when it was all about the end game. I almost didn't care what I drank so long as I got buzzed; the exhilaration of the shots, often accompanied with a sinking feeling of regret. The self-loathing that came with the goon bag, you knew it wasn't a classy choice, but it was easy. Cocktails were fun, experimental. Never though, during the days of this kind of drinking, did I have the money to spend on good scotch whiskey, nor the time to sit around waiting for the good wine to age. That all seemed boring, slow, unnecessary. I wasn't ready for that kind of commitment.

  In case you haven't worked it out I'm likening relationships to drinking habits. It's a metaphor people, work with me here. There's the fun (and sometimes regret) of the one-night stands, the drunken mistakes, the friends-with-benefits, the blind dates and the experimental "just give them a chance" dates. All of which are about the end game; finding a relationship (or, *cough*, finding some horizontal action). As long as you've got someone to cuddle up to at night or eat dinner with in a restaurant. As long as you're not alone, right?

  When I was thirty an elderly woman at a shop once asked me where my husband was, searching over my shoulder in anticipation of his appearance. "I'm single" I replied. She looked at me with genuine concern, as though I'd told her that all the puppies in the world had just exploded. "Oh I'm so sorry," she said, frowning. I smiled and said it was fine and carried on with my day, largely because it's considered inappropriate to rant at well-meaning old ladies, but I was annoyed. And not just at old lady Mabel there, but at the broader narrative accepted by society, that for some reason we all need to be neatly partnered off with another human. That our lives are somehow incomplete if we're single.

  No one means it of course. Well-meaning Mabel and other grandmothers and happily-partnered off people only ask if we've "got someone on the horizon" because they're happy and want us to find that happiness, or because that's just what our society does. We grow up with the fairy-tales of damsels in distress and knights in shining armor, who ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. Which, I think even people in relationships will agree is stupid. They know the truth. The damsel wasn't in distress, she was running around fighting dragons herself. The knight's armor wasn't "shining", it was a bit worse for the wear from battling his own monsters. And when the two finally got to ride off into the sunset they actually fought with each other about where they should settle in for the night and whose turn it was to feed the horses. But still, in our society the same old fairy-tale is peddled, the books we read and movies we watch still have sub-plots involving romance even if the stories themselves aren't about love. And we all run around in a wild panic trying to match up all the single people because, well, they're single.

  So let me tell you about single malt scotch whiskey. What differentiates it from blended whiskey is that it is produced in a single distillery. The different ways in which each single malt whiskey is produced adds to its individual characteristics, making it unique. It takes time to develop; it requires at least three years in oak casks to mature but many distilleries leave it to mature for much longer than that. Single malt scotch whiskey is known to be more complex in flavour than its blended counterpart, hinting at the individuality of the distillery from which it came, and it is therefore usually enjoyed on its own. You don't serve it with mixers or shoot it. Its flavour is enough that it can hold its own. You sip it, you appreciate it. Because it's single malt scotch whiskey. And there's nothing wrong with it.

  When it comes to love I don't want a goon bag. I don't want five-dollar wine or cheap and nasty beer or a shot of watered-down tequila. I want a man who is unique. Whose tastes complement my own. Who has taken the time necessary to develop and mature. A man who is complex, who makes me stop and think, who captivates me in the moment and attracts my undivided attention because of who he is, not because of how he makes me feel or what I can get from the experience. Love to me is not an end game. You don't drink single malt scotch whiskey to get drunk. Becoming drunk might be a by-product but it is not the reason you drink it. I don't want to go out and find a man because I just want to be in love. I want to fall in love because I found a man who had what it took to catch and sustain my undivided attention.

  And not only that, I'd rather be someone's single malt whiskey than someone's goon bag. I don't want to be another notch on someone's belt. I don't want to be used for how I can make someone feel. I'm a complex, unique, mature individual and you will damn well take the time to appreciate me! The thing with being single malt scotch whiskey is that it takes determination. You have to be patient enough to work on yourself, confident enough to be proud of and show your unique qualities, and sure enough of your self-worth to not settle for someone who dilutes you with a mixer and uses you just to get drunk. Which is why I'm done with the "why aren't you married yet" attitude of our society. The pressure single people feel from the fairy-tales and the movies and the partnered-off people messes with their distillation process. They freak out, they look around and think "oh well everyone else is married, what's wrong with me?". They jump into a mad rush to date someone, anyone, and end up settling for a cheap bottle of wine because they've convinced themselves that "it's a nice wine, everyone likes the wine, I can do worse than this wine." Cheap wine gets the job done, sure. You'll get drunk. But come on, we've all had enough headaches and hangovers to know that cheap wine is not worth the pain or the cost in the end.

  If you're single there is nothing wrong with you. There is no hurry to hook up, no urgency, no panic. You are not the "third-wheel" or the odd one out. Being single does not have to mean that you are alone. It means that you're a single malt scotch whiskey. Maybe you're in the distillation process, maturing; being single gives you the chance to focus on yourself, to do what you want, to travel, change your career path, take a cooking class, learn, start your own business. You have the chance to develop your own individual flavours, work out and celebrate the characteristics that make you unique. Don't stop developing and growing by getting into a relationship because that's what society says you "should" do. Maybe you're the bottled scotch whiskey; you've developed your characteristics and are now packaged with pride, exhibiting all the things that make you you. In which case don't settle. You're unique, you're complex, hard work has gone into building you. Hold out for someone who can appreciate that. And if it ever seems like that person is never going to come along don't freak out. Get on with it, be you, do your thing, build on your successes, develop the relationships you do have, make new friends, have fun. Because the purpose of your life is not to be neatly coupled off with another human. You are not incomplete. You stand alone and tall, as a whole person. You're a goddam single malt scotch whiskey. People know your worth. So be awesome all by yourself. And own it.

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