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Thursday, May 28, 2009

The straight and narrow

As I've enjoyed reading Brian's book and look forward to a documentary on straight edge, I can't help but think about how much the concept of straight edge still affects me to this day. In short, be it the Minor Threat song, the extreme interpretations that are out there, or the non-extreme interpretations, I try to take care of my body and not get into trouble doing stupid things. Common sense, right? Well, straight edge is a little more than that.

There was a brief time that I thought I identified with the straight edge label. I had zero interest in drinking alcohol, but that was when I thought all beer tasted like the Dos Equis amber beer my mother would have once a week with Mexican food, and all red wine tasted like the wine my parents would drink from time to time. I had no idea what moderation was. My slippery slope was very steep, and I judged matters in a black and white way. Oh, and I was about to move out into the bigger, broader world that was college. So, the unfairness of life and cruelties of the world at large could be stopped by teenagers and college students across the nation and the world, right? Well . . .

When I came upon what it meant to be straight edge in 1997/1998, I really retraced my steps and chose my words carefully. I wasn't about to dress up like a member of Earth Crisis or kick anyone out of a band who wasn't straight edge. I wasn't about to fall in line with people who wanted to get wasted and silly, nor did I want to become somebody who wanted to be intolerant of those who didn't adhere to a strict lifestyle. Once again, the fence was a good spot to sit on.

Over the years, I warmed up to the notion of social drinking, but there are lines I still choose not to cross. I refuse to become so out of reality that I can't tell when I'm not aware of consequences. In other words, no falling down/stupid drunken antics. I may act silly when I'm around people who get my humor, but alcohol is not necessary to act that way (for me, at least).

So, I don't mean to say all this and act like I'm a superior creature of being because of what I don't do. If anything, straight edge taught me a long time ago that it's OK to not want to drink excessively, take drugs, or screw around. Basically, its message was, "you're not alone."

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