Most people like to drink alcohol, whether it’s beer, wine or liquor. These beverages lubricate social gatherings, relax people (numb them sometimes) and allow the bonds or the handcuffs of propriety to be released and put aside. Alcohol gives some people courage. I have had enough drunken stupors to know that I don’t like the hangovers, the embarrassing behavior, or being really sick. Like one New Year’s Day in high school, when I was the only band member who couldn’t and didn’t perform at half-time in the Orange Bowl–I was still dizzy and nauseous and in bed!

I have had plenty of beer in college and after to know that it fills me up till I am bloated, and I don’t care about telling an ale from a lager. I do know that I prefer foreign beers to the popular domestic ones, which are too thin for me. But aside from one trip to Ireland, where I longed constantly for a Guiness at the pub while I was touring (and probably would be an alcoholic if I lived there), I can usually pass.

That helps keep the weight off and the body healthier. Most people, however, need their drink.

I bought wine by the case when I first moved to Manhattan and had seen enough movies and sophisticated magazines promoting the mantra that any cool professional man knows his grapes and the good years to order. At one point I believed I could taste the minerals from particular French soil. I loved certain vineyards and knew lots of the best years. But after those many glasses at dinner, I was falling asleep when I wanted to read. So I stopped drinking every night.

For decades I have watched people twirl the glass, smell the bouquet and swish the delicacy in their mouths. Some talk incessantly about it, collect it, offer it with pride, and I appreciate their passion. But it’s not for me. Seems like a lot of fuss over very little…maybe a lot of little. I can live without it…or with a lot less of it. So at business lunches in the old days, I limited myself to one glass of white wine just to be sociable and not make the other guys uncomfortable or create a small scene. I could always say I’d had hepatitis—which was true—and have a scarred liver that doesn’t filter out the alcohol that goes straight to my blood stream. Or that I have to drive home.

I do want to admit that I saw the movie “Sideways” about pinot noir and had private wine tastings at two stores to find a good one for a party. But I was unimpressed. Much ado about nothing. Then a very rich friend once brought a pino to the restaurant where we ate. It was in a beautifully stitched and stained leather carrying case for his wine. I was prepared to pretend how delicious it was…and I was blown away. He had found a rare vineyard that only made 600 cases. One bottle cost $150. It was outstanding, and he drinks wine of that caliber every night. If I could afford that luxury, maybe I would be more enthusiastic about wine and imbibe more often. But I can’t, so I don’t.

I have a friend who drank too much (and drugged as well) until his marriage and his whole life were almost shot. He gave up alcohol, cigarettes and abusing substances and went through years—maybe 17 now— of meetings at Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous. He is a changed man, career blossomed, developed good relationships. Of course this is an extreme case of too much alcohol.

My father used to like bourbon, but he warned me all the time about the dangers of hard liquor. Terrible for your health he promised. Breaks down the cells or the tissues and the body’s ability to function properly. The veins in your nose will pop out pretty purple. I didn’t like hearing that. I learned to love the different kinds of gin, and rum—I should have been a pirate—even though it was considered a woman’s drink and I drank it often straight, no coke (unmentionable) or fruit juices added.

Then there were at least 15 sweet liqueurs I loved, sipping by the fire or before bed. And while most people extolled the virtues of cognac, I scoffed at their naivete and bought many different bottles of armagnac, which I still prefer.

But the abstinence required by hepatitis—all alcohol forbidden for a year—introduced me to a new height of good health and fine feeling. I liked it, welcomed that rarified exuberance that more than compensated for the loss of some delicious tastes, occasional relaxation or drowsiness.

Then in my 40’s, when I studied Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art, my teacher, the mestre, urged us students to avoid all alcoholic drinks all the time. It was like poison he warned us, and he could feel it’s polluting effects for days when he lapsed in the past.

I want to be unusually healthy. Especially now that I am older. Don’t misunderstand—I am not a saint, not a purist. I sometimes have a sake, a pina colada with rum, wine, a sip or two of after dinner drink. But you will neverNeverNEVER see me drinking a six-pack—I just want to grow one—or even two beers. I am flabbergasted when one friend can down most of a bottle of wine at dinner. And of course watching people have two or three gins in an evening is not worth a mention..but it’s not in my intake vocabulary.

Do you think I am nuts? A whacko? A wuss? A geek? Definitely not a man’s man who can drink you under the table? OK. You are entitled to any opinion you like. All I notice is that I am more relaxed than most, more patient, less angry, thinner, have more endurance, can play four hours of tennis and squash in the same day, etc, etc. Something must be working. And I am suggesting that my small intake of alcohol is part of it. Think about it.