Help us (kindly) lie to our drinking buddies
October 9, 2013 6:30 PM   Subscribe

Just found out we're pregnant - hurrah! Our dear friends throw a smasher of a Halloween party every year - ack! We're looking forward to shouting the news from the mountaintops, but feel that the 9 weeks along I'll be come Oct 31 is too early to shout. What are some legitimate reasons why a normally social drinker can't have alcohol that won't raise a lot of eyebrows?

Complicating factors:
1. This is a party of long standing that we definitely want to attend again this year
2. Due to travel distance, we stay overnight which puts the kibosh on "I'm the DD!"
3. It will be notably out of character for me to simply choose not to imbibe, such that it will be a topic of much needling and discussion unless I have a reason why I can't
4. This is a doctor/lawyer/professor crowd

These are some of our dearest friends, and we considered just telling them already, but we won't yet have told our parents either and that seems wrong (we have reason to want to be cautious to sharing too early). I don't want to "fake" drinking since they'll know soon enough and can do basic math (see Factor #4)

So - stuck in this quandary of what to say to be able to enjoy the party without it being a big deal that I'm not consuming alcohol. I do have some dietary restrictions that I could say are acting up, or just going with a vague "Doctor says no alcohol right now" but I'm wondering if there are better options that the Hivemind can generate. Thank you so much!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (48 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Upset stomach the day before and don't want to risk making things worse.
posted by Apoch at 6:32 PM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

The standard is "I'm on antibiotics". This is exactly the time of year when the school virus vectors are in full force so you could very plausibly have a sinus infection that just won't quit you.
posted by padraigin at 6:33 PM on October 9, 2013 [49 favorites]

One common reason I don't end up drinking is if I've donated blood that day...for some reason the blood drive near me always seems to happen the same night as my book club, so it has come up a few times! I've asked, and the nurse there said it's not a great idea to drink after losing the amount of blood you lose by donating. Anyway, that could be an easy excuse, if a false one.

Another easy one is "I sort of feel a cold coming on and don't want to lower my resistance." I end up using that a fair bit when I'm just feeling off and don't want to drink.
posted by rainbowbrite at 6:34 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you don't want to say you have a cold or something that sounds communicable: "I'm trying out a new medication that doesn't mix well with alcohol."
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:36 PM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

Say that your stomach has been feeling sensitive lately. Bonus, if you get morning sickness you don't need to make up another excuse!
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 6:36 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't lie. Just carry a beer or glass of wine around, and fake sip. Occasionally dump it down the bathroom sink, so you can say 'sure!' when someone offers to get you a new one.

This is much, much easier than lying, and honestly, no one will notice. (I'm a real drinker, and known to be, and totally got away with this for the first 15ish weeks of pregnancy.)
posted by kestrel251 at 6:43 PM on October 9, 2013 [33 favorites]

Halloween party, you say? Go as a member of the temperance movement. Or a mormon missionary or something. And say you're "in character at the moment."

You can also cover by sipping things that look like alcoholic drinks but actually are not. Vernor's, plain club soda with lime, grape juice, orange juice, etc. Whatever is most consistent with your normal drinking habits.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 6:43 PM on October 9, 2013 [9 favorites]

On Halloween, saying that you feel a cold coming on is *not* going to stop people from encouraging you to drink. Or at least it wouldn't with my friends.

I've recently taken up drinking soda with a dash of bitters (so just trace amounts of alcohol), and having something in your hand goes a long way towards making you feel more a part of the party.

In terms of what you say when you get called out - go with something or other that has you on antibiotics. You really can't drink on antibiotics, but you could look/feel fine. Good luck, and have fun!
posted by leitmotif at 6:51 PM on October 9, 2013

Antibiotics is a great excuse, as is blood donation (every time I've ever given, they specifically say to avoid alcohol for a bit).

Alternatively, the 'disguised drink' routine: SAY you're drinking a Coke & something, but it's really a plain Coke. If you get stuck with a real drink, dump it in a sink and refill with something innocent.
posted by easily confused at 6:52 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

My husband was always in charge of mixing me a sprite with a lemon wedge, which looked enough like my gin and tonic to keep peoples questions at bay. Beer and wine are harder to fake of course...
posted by waterisfinite at 6:52 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would start with the nursing a real drink and dumping it routine and if it is a crowded party or busy party and you are filing your own drinks, may one that looks like what you drink w/o the alcohol and if someone calls you on it, tell them you are on medicine that when mixed with alcohol makes you sick.

If this is around the time when women in your social circle are getting pregnant, someone will notice it regardless of what you do. Deny, deny, deny.

If it is a beer party, bring some non-alcoholic beer and leave it somewhere where you can refill with it.

Or, seconding what most others have said.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:55 PM on October 9, 2013

Nobody notices you as much as you think they notice you. Just don't make a thing out of it. Sure, carry around a mug, a cup, a glass. It doesn't matter unless you make something out of it.
posted by LonnieK at 6:56 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

This idea will curb what you eat at the party, but I recently cut out drinking due to a two week no-sugar diet.

Or maybe say you're starting a no or low sugar diet on Sunday or Monday and want to start lowering your intake that weekend. That can be your reason for having a seltzer or plain club soda instead of a beer.
posted by calgirl at 7:08 PM on October 9, 2013

Don't lie. Just carry a beer or glass of wine around, and fake sip. Occasionally dump it down the bathroom sink, so you can say 'sure!' when someone offers to get you a new one. This is much, much easier than lying, and honestly, no one will notice.

Agreed. Any excuse you offer for not taking a drink will be suspect.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:10 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

yup, either fake drink or that you're on antibiotics that you can't mix with alcohol.
posted by quince at 7:15 PM on October 9, 2013

Doctawyerfessor crowds know that people don't spill early pregnancies. I've noticed little signs, given a smile and a knowing salute, and gone on my way, as did many of my friends who, say, noticed my sea-bands or my funny snacks or my tiredness.

Just fake the drink, and don't overdo the excuses.
posted by tchemgrrl at 7:16 PM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

Go with antibiotics. It's easy, believable, and no one wants the details of your urinary tract infection.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:16 PM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

posted by The corpse in the library at 7:17 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yeah, when my friends had a pre-wedding party for me and my husband, I had to do stuff the next day so I had one beer, took the bottle with me each time I used the bathroom, refilled it with water and kept drinking. My husband looked anxious when I took the car keys after the party but I was good to go.
posted by kat518 at 7:18 PM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

I know people who donate blood and then DELIBERATELY go get drunk right afterwards, because it's cheaper that way. I doubt that excuse would fly.

For those saying "no one will notice"- probably my friends are a bunch of alcoholics, but yes, I believe you if you say that they will notice and they will say something. I went on a diet that included no alcohol, and met with incredible pressure to disregard the diet and just drink anyway "because we're celebrating!"
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:29 PM on October 9, 2013

If you go as a temperance movement member (or some other nominally 'sober' costume), carry a flask (of water) with you and be seen surreptitiously taking swigs from it.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:42 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do you feel comfortable just telling them you are trying to get pregnant soon and are starting now on the health part? I'm not much of a drinker anyways but I was just semi honest... What really gave me away was not getting into the hot tub.
posted by Swisstine at 7:48 PM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

If a doctor asks, tell 'em you're taking Flagyl. They won't pry, because the stuff you would take that for is pretty personal (bacterial vaginosis, things like that) and you are warned fiercely away from drinking any alcohol at all while taking it.
posted by jennyjenny at 7:55 PM on October 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

When I don't feel like drinking, I bring fancy home-made lemon soda.

Squeeze some lemons, heat the juice and zest gently with sugar, add embellishments like ginger or blueberries if you like, let cool, then mix with soda water. Pour into a bottle and add whole stems of fresh mint.

The trick here is in your entrance: hold the bottles up triumphantly and say, hey everyone, this stuff goes really well with vodka. (It honestly does). Then drink your lemonade without vodka all evening while everyone else gets tipsy.
posted by embrangled at 8:01 PM on October 9, 2013 [10 favorites]

Be the bartender. Rock up to the drinks zone and act very gracious about making sure everybody's got a drink in their hands. Mix fun things with wacky halloween themes for other people. Have a glass to the side of some kind of diluted mixer with a garnish (soda and mint, cranberry and orange twist, etc) to sip from in between making drinks for other people. When someone asks you "oh thank you, can I return the favor?" lift up your own glass and take a sip and smile, say you're all set, thanks.
posted by Mizu at 8:22 PM on October 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I wasn't drinking for a while because of a medication I was on, and while I explained that at every single event, people still exchanged looks and muttered about babies to each other. And a couple of people outright said, "OH MY GOD, are you PREGNANT?" So consider what you'll say if you get asked directly. Will you lie about it?
posted by lollusc at 8:53 PM on October 9, 2013 [5 favorites]

The obvious combination answer is to drink a virgin drink, like soda water with lemon, and use the antibiotic excuse when and if someone gets curious and asks, which they likely won't.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:10 PM on October 9, 2013

Go get a beer (hard cider, twisted tea, etc.), carry it around, leave it on a table. Husband retrieves, drinks. Go get another beer. Husband hands you empty beer bottle, you take to bathroom, fill with water. I like the ideas of a costume that would involve carrying a specific drink, like a pirate/ jug of 'rum', zombie/ bottled 'blood'.
posted by theora55 at 9:15 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I got some kind of stomach bug earlier this year and couldn't drink more than a rather small amount of alcohol for a good few weeks afterward without things going, well, grossly. Seems like in addition to not needing to name some specific antibiotic to medical types, nobody would want to talk about that, and if they do, just act embarrassed by the details.

I totally "suspect" the antibiotics line and other cliches from women who could be pregnant, but I wasn't raised in a damn barn and so I say nothing and secretly wait to be proven right or wrong. I think it's a great polite fiction that lets you tell your parents and keep your privacy while not really feeling a need to maintain some grandiose lie with people you may see a lot. I guess you'll run the risk of someone inquiring directly in response, but at that point I think they're being rude and you can show or feign whatever kind of offense you want in order to get them off the trail.
posted by zizania at 9:39 PM on October 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

The commenter who said UTI has it. People will not be following up on that one.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:49 PM on October 9, 2013

"I'm still hungover from yesterday."
posted by mochapickle at 10:41 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'd go with a medical reason - UTI, antibiotics, etc. Otherwise, when you announce you are expecting, some people will think she drank while pregnant. Unless you want to say, "And she was dumping all the drinks down the sink", you're taking the risk that some people are going to think poorly of you, even if they never say so. I'd rather be found out early than have people think that.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:54 PM on October 9, 2013 [6 favorites]

In my experience, fake drinking won't fool everyone anyway. I tried it at a couple of parties and weddings in the early stages of pregnancy, even had a pretty good glass-swap system worked out with my husband, and it turned out afterwards that a few people still noticed (but guessed why and didn't ask).

So I'd go with the antibiotics excuse, and like lollusc says also work out what you'll say if directly asked if you're pregnant. Bonus: if you get tired and sick by 9 weeks, it'll fit in nicely with people already thinking you're ill.
posted by Catseye at 11:13 PM on October 9, 2013

"Trying to get pregnant" is brilliant.
posted by salvia at 11:22 PM on October 9, 2013 [2 favorites]

You should make peace with the idea that some people will figure this out. I've sussed out multiple pregnancies this way - and yes, depending on your age, people in your social circle WILL speculate. Tell 'em you're on antibiotics and be okay with some of your friends making a mental note that you're probably knocked up. (I would NEVER ask and I imagine neither will most of the people who suspect you.) Let people suspect! No one in a docterly crowd would expect you to spill the beans that early anyway. A polite fiction is totally okay, and I don't think all the cloak and dagger stuff will do anything other than draw MORE attention to what you are or aren't drinking. You are also totally allowed to lie about it if someone asks directly at this point. This is private between you guys right now and that's totally FINE.

posted by Countess Sandwich at 12:39 AM on October 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

Oh, and if you decide to go the antibiotic route (and thanks to jennyjenny for a naming a specific drug, Flagyl!) anyhow, if you use this: try to start this excuse a week or so before the party. "Let slip" to a friend or two you know will also be attending the party that you darn it, this dang prescription you're on is no fun at all.....
posted by easily confused at 3:04 AM on October 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

"Not tonight, I've got a thing." You do, a fetus. But no need to elaborate.

Adults shouldn't be mentioning drinking or not drinking, it's not polite. Sure they can speculate to themselves, but we should all respect each other's privacy and not make big fat hair deals about what people are eating or drinking.

If anyone presses, just say, "you know, it's kinda gross and not for polite company." They can imagine what they want, but what you mean is that polite people don't press friends for information that they don't want to divulge.


When my parents were expecting me they had a cute Halloween costume. Dad went as a flower and my mother was covered in bangages. They were a Mummy and a Poppy!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:09 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Having done the we're-pregnant-and-not-telling-yet thing a few times, I think the easier lie is to fake drink instead of being fake sick as in, on antibiotics and such. Just carry a beer around and take a sip now and then. Just be sure to dump the rest and change the bottle or cup a few times so it looks like you had a few. Beer would be my choice cause if someone's looking closely, you can even swallow and there's no harm done. (A whole beer during a few hours of party is probably ok for you.) or like other people say, have your husband fix you something that looks like a coctail and drink that freely. Bubbly water and cranberry can be a fake vodka drink.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 6:18 AM on October 10, 2013

Oh forgot to say, I prefer the fake drinking cause if you're fake sick, how many times will people ask "why are you not drinking??"

So many questions will get people thinking, even if you say you have a UTI or whatever. Better for no one to suspect.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 6:20 AM on October 10, 2013

A friend of a friend told me a story about how his heavy-drinking friends broke the big news a few days after a big party, where they both were seen imbibing lots of beer. To announce the pregnancy, they posted a series of photos:

- Results of pregnancy test (positive!)
- Couple looking at party invitation, with "deep thinking" faces
- Couple with "eureka!" faces
- Bottle of dealcoholized beer
- Bottle of beer soaking in water, with one of them removing the label
- Them gluing a label from a real bottle of beer onto the bottle
- Happy drinking party photos!

So much work but pretty hilarious. Anyway, if you don't want to fake drink, the antibiotics/mysterious gross illness trick works well.
posted by Paper rabies at 6:30 AM on October 10, 2013 [7 favorites]

Just drink water. Anyone asks (really, no one will - but just in case), tell them you had plenty of booze earlier (not a lie on a long enough time-line) and you don't want to get all dehydrated (also not a lie.)
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:48 AM on October 10, 2013

Have a hallowe'en costume that makes drinking difficult (ie. mask or limited arm movement).

Or say that you had a WICKED BAD HANGOVER the weekend before and the idea of drinking again so soon is beyond awful. It would help if the weekend before the party you posted on facebook/complain to people about your awful hangover. Having been in that situation (not the pregnant one but the "hangover so bad that it takes a long while to even consider drinking a single drink again" one) I can say it is legit and a lot of people sympathised. No questions or "OMG BABBIES!" comments (and I am a married lady of a common baby making age). Just a lot of "Dude, I've been there...." comments. The fact that your excuse involves alcohol consumption just a week earlier throws people off the pregnancy scent.

Or just say that you're trying to get pregnant. I think that is genius.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:44 AM on October 10, 2013

I used the "hey friends, we're trying to get pregnant, isn't that exciting!" thing when I found out I actually was pregnant 3 days before New Year's Eve.

My friend did the drink swap with her partner, and though I wasn't there, she says no one noticed.
posted by Safiya at 8:56 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

At a party, I'm sure "I'll get one in a minute" could work.
posted by Pax at 9:37 AM on October 10, 2013

I was in the same situation as you, except it was a family wedding. I was only six weeks pregnant, and we had not told anyone other than one sister (not even my parents!) because that one sister will carry a secret to her grave, and the rest of my family most assuredly would not.

My sister, bless her heart, did all the drink swapping, with my husband providing physical cover if needed. No one suspected a thing. If there is one person like that at the party that you can really trust, that might help your subterfuge.

Since it is Halloween, however, wearing a costume that makes it really hard to drink (or that you can claim makes you really hot and thirsty) is worth considering.
posted by ambrosia at 11:04 AM on October 10, 2013

I stopped drinking about 5 months ago after drinking like a fish for years. I've been shocked at how few people notice I'm not drinking when I have a Diet Coke or whatever in a coozie. I hang out with a pretty rowdy crowd, but, especially when people are at a rager, folks are pretty focused on their own imbibing.

Seriously. People aren't watching you drink. I promise.
posted by superlibby at 3:46 PM on October 10, 2013

If you're hanging around with your doctor friends, I don't think UTI/ antibiotics excuses will cut it. Especially if I've been drinking, my general reaction to people revealing their health information to me is to ask a whole bunch more nosy and detailed questions. (Due in large part to the fact that people actually LOVE talking to me about this stuff- they keep offering info so I reciprocate by asking questions to seem interested-ish. I have had multiple, long conversations with my roommate about her UTIs, and another friend randomly told me all about a rash . . . etc.) If you can't or don't want to offer details, that may well seem odd to your doctor friends (who, by the way, will probably suspect you're pregnant anyway the second you refuse a drink, regardless of your excuse.) There's also the chance that they may tell you "Oh it's fine you can have *one* drink on antibiotics/ with a UTI/ after giving blood! Do a shot with me!" Then what?

I think the fake drink is going to work better. No one will notice, especially once they're tipsy, too. (So come a bit late, after everyone else will be a couple drinks in?)
posted by GastrocNemesis at 7:58 PM on October 10, 2013

Some excuses I've used for not drinking with my crowd of professional heavy drinkers in the past:

- Antibiotics.
- On heavy-duty painkillers for a back/other-type sprain also works.
- Low-carb diet.
- Took other recreational drugs beforehand, hence alcohol not necessary.

Fake drinking is a good idea, but if your drinking friends are anything like mine, someone will notice and try wheedling you into a shot or five. I have one friend who has ALWAYS noticed when I have done this in the past (for different reasons though, not pregnancy) so I always have one of the above ready to go when I'm taking it easy on the drink.
posted by pandalicious at 9:15 PM on October 10, 2013

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