If you are between the ages of 22 and 42 and not drinking at a social gathering, people will presume that you are pregnant. And sometimes you might be. Or you might be waiting to find out if you are pregnant. Or trying to conceive. And maybe you don't feel like sharing your latest reproductive news with everyone around you. As such, I've come up with a list of handy excuses you can use should you find yourself ordering a club soda when everyone else is sharing a bottle of something much tastier.
1. You are on antibiotics How this works: This one is a classic for a reason. The key is to have very specific details about why you are on medication. Do some research and know your symptoms. Good reasons include a UTI (you are probably running to the bathroom anyway), strep throat (be prepared to feign throat pain) or an infected cut on a body part that isn't easily visible (this one will require a backstory, so it's only recommended for very creative types).
Potential obstacles: If you use this excuse regularly around people you see a lot, your condition will get severe pretty quickly. A UTI can only go so long before you will need to be hospitalized in order to treat your antibiotic-resistant infection. Same with your infected cut. Eventually they will need to amputate.
2. You’re observing lent How this works: You are giving up drinking for lent. When you give this excuse, you look faithful at best and sanctimonious at worst. No one is going to challenge you for your religious practices.
Potential obstacles: This only works for about six weeks between the months of February and April. Maybe you can stretch it out if you are around people who don't celebrate Easter. Also, this will be very hard to pull off if you are not Christian. Maybe you will be able to pull off "Jewish lent" or lent for whatever other religion you practice, but you will need some pretty gullible friends who don't really read or watch much TV.
3. You have a bet going How this works: Say that you and your partner made a bet that the other couldn't quit drinking for a certain number of weeks. This works best if you and your partner are hypercompetitive and frequent gamblers.
Potential obstacles: If neither of you is a very big drinker, get ready to tell your friends some crazy stories about secret nights of debauchery in order to explain what triggered the supposed bet. And make sure your partner is on board.
4. You are super sick How this works: This only works well if you have extreme morning (read: all-day) sickness, if you are an excellent actor, or if you've had Ferris Bueller-level practice faking sick as a child, as this is hard to keep up for an entire evening.
Potential obstacles: It begs the question: Why are you even there to begin with? What kind of inconsiderate jerk are you for exposing the rest of us? No one will want to sit next to you, that's for sure
5. You’ve started a clean eating diet How this works: It's totally on-trend. Just start talking about your fitness level or energy level or inflammation, and how it can all be linked back to eating the wrong foods. You can stop talking about your "health reset" as soon as your friends' eyes start to glaze over (which typically takes 30 to 45 seconds). People will be too ashamed of their own bad habits to argue about whether this is an idiotic idea.
Potential obstacles: Use this one only if you are desperate because you will be expected to give up everything good—carbs, sugar, dairy. It's just not worth it. Also, your normal friends will be too afraid to speak up, but they will judge you and will probably talk about you behind your back.
6. You’re hung over How this works: Tell your friends that you got really wasted the night before (or that afternoon) and can't even smell alcohol, let alone contemplate drinking it.
Potential obstacles: This is not a good one to use around you in-laws or boss. Also, if you use this one too regularly, people might start to worry about you.
7. You’re prepping for a blood test How this works: I don't know if you ever need to abstain from alcohol before a blood test, but it sounds super-plausible (as long as you aren't hanging out with medical professionals).
Potential obstacles: Don't volunteer any information other than "blood test." Be prepared to dodge follow-up questions about the nature of the test.
8. You’re trying to save money How this works: Tell your friends that you are saving up for a house. Have a house? Maybe you are saving up for a trip. Or a pony. Or a house for the pony.
Potential obstacles: This might work, but it also runs the risk of making you look cheap (we all have expenses). Also, your friends might insist on paying for your drinks and then you'll feel douchey (unless you actually are cheap) and you’ll have the drinks to get rid of.
9. You drove How this works: You came straight from work. Your Uber rating is really, really bad. You need to run an errand on the way home.
Potential obstacles: Because most people can have one drink and still drive, you might need a backstory, like you already had a drink after work. If the event in question is immediately after work, then you'll need to use the very plausible excuse of having had a drink during work. Channel your inner Don Draper and own it.
10. You’re training for an athletic event How this works: I have friends who actually do stop drinking when they are training for stuff. This is a thing!
Potential obstacles: It is very important for you to choose an event that is real (thanks a lot, Google) and for the event to be far enough in the future that you will not actually be forced to participate (i.e., by the time the "event" comes up, you will be openly pregnant). Most importantly, do not use this excuse around people who are going to want to start training with you (we all have that friend). All you need is to not be able to drink and to be forced to wake up at the crack of dawn every day to go running.