Because of the Islamic New Year we had a day off from work so made plans with friends to go out for a nice dinner. An event, since it was out of the neighborhood in traffic, the place with great food, ambience AND foreign alcohol.
We arrived and when checking in for our reservation the mater'd reminded us that all establishments are dry because of the Islamic New Year. The reactions of my friends to this news was quite interesting to watch. There was anger and blame, "Why didn't they tell us when we made the reservation?" And there was consideration of just going home.
We ended up staying, they tried to order wine anyways and talked to the manager, hoping for expat consideration or this-is-Egypt-and-laws-are-suggestions but to no avail.
And then we all had fun anyways. I would have had my sober fun anyways, but listening to them talk through having fun despite not having booze was interesting...I know what they were going through. We had shisha, mezze, green tea with mint and coffees after dinner. Everyone was astonished that the bill was half the expected price because 3-4 but titles of wine wasn't ordered. Instead of find another bar, we went back to one of the couple's apartments and played a game, ate snacks, and watch the Cubs beat the Cardinals. They had drinks then, but there was lots of conversation about how fun our night was, better to come back early and hang out at home, better that there wasn't alcohol available that night.
I wasn't "glad" for the sober company. I do admit that I had a one second bitter thought "welcome to my world" when we were told that there wasn't any alcohol. But I don't really mean that, because I love my world, and I'm not in a sober sad prison. Then I had a second annoyed thought, "fuck, it's just one dinner without a drink people," and then got over that too.
I realize that if everyone knew there was no alcohol we would not had had that night together. Can even said at some point, this is one of the most fun nights I've had in Cairo, seriously." Possible without alcohol but not possible with intentional for most.
I had a great time throughout: new experience of a river taxi on the Nile, instead of scary, sweaty taxi in horrific traffic. Being part of a group where I felt accepted and at ease. Dressing up for a couple's dinner. Laughing and hanging out at someone's place.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp