recepticle=sXe? wtf?

sXe = straightedge. sometimes with a hyphen (straight-edge) or sometimes as two words. i spell it how i say it; straightedge. you followed this link because you either don't know what straightedge is, or you want to know exactly how sXe relates to me.

i am straightedge. i've only just gotten used to saying that to people, and in england most people look at you a bit funny and go "what? are you talking about porn?" when you say it. i was straightedge long before I had ever even heard the term, and not surprisingly, it was an american who introduced me to the word.

being straightedge is, to me, about giving your body some respect. no matter how i put it, it still sounds like i'm being a moany old dad lecturer, but that's what it boils down to - no alcohol, no cigarettes, no drugs, and no promiscuous sex. before you think i've gone all tree-hugger on you, i'd like to state that i really only came to the conscious realisation that i was straightedge at the end of january 2002, and i've been practicing these principals for my entire life. here's how it breaks down:

i haven't had an alcoholic drink since iwas 16 years old, in 1994. and i've only been drunk once; i was 3 years old, and it was brilliant fun.

i've never smoked, apart from one drag of a menthol cigarette when i was 13.

i've never ever taken an illicit or illegal substance.

i'm not about to tell you about my sex life, but it's never even been close to promiscuous.

when i was 16 and i'd decided i didn't want to drink alcohol, there was another word for straightedge; that word was 'wanker'. i remember very clearly telling a friend that i'd decided that I didn't really like alcohol, and i wasn't going to drink it anymore. his response was something along the lines of:

"look, if you go to a pub and don't drink, everyone's going to think you're a wanker. they'll say 'do you want a drink?' and you'll say 'no, I don't drink' and then they'll say 'what? are you a wanker?'"

i've never really encountered the kind of response that my friend was so sure of. on perhaps one or two occasions people who, while completely wasted, have asked me why i didn't drink, and quickly follow it with the oh-so-witty qualifier "are you gay?", but on the whole people tend to be quite impressed, if a little curious, about my sobriety.

what perhaps doesn't help their curiosity is that i don't really have an answer for "why don't you drink?" - if pressed, i usually make something up on the spot: i don't like the taste, i don't like the thought of not being in control, i don't have a liver... all of these things are true (well... you figure it out), but none are the complete reason. the simple truth is that drinking never, ever appealed to me. ditto with smoking and drugs. my dad has always professed admiration for my abstinence, and perhaps not without reason; i'm a musician, and i've been in one or two bands, as well as playing session for a whole bunch of others. without naming any names, mostly everyone in the first band save myself took coke, and quite a lot of it, at some point. weed was a precursor to this (although i don't subscribe to the view that weed is a 'gateway' drug to being a crack-whore), and in all the time I saw my friends getting wasted, it never touched me. i don't think it's admirable, and i don't really put it down to my 'strong-willed abstinence', i just never fancied it.

i don't really like fish. never have, nor mushrooms. so, if someone came up to me and said "fancy a bit of haddock, lawrie?" i'd say "no thanks mate, i'm okay.". because i don't like fish. i'm not tempted - i'm not fighting back the urge to stick the fish in my mouth and munch it, because fishes hold no appeal for me. i don't abstain from fish, i just don't want to eat one.

there are variations to being straightedge, and a question i was asked recently was 'are you hardcore?'. this is when it starts to sound more and more like i'm in porn. as far as i can determine and have been told, being straightedge hardcore includes not taking any painkillers or medical drugs, and (oocasionally, although this tends to more often than not be a spillover effect) not eating meat, because some animals are pumped full of steroids to make them bigger. i say more power to those that are hardcore, but for me being straightedge is, as much as anything, about being in control and being aware and on the ball all the time. i can't concentrate or operate fully if i'm in pain, and so i take painkillers; specifically I take a non-drowsy soluble painkiller so i don't nod off at the keyboard or crash into anyone while i'm... drumming.

are there any drawbacks to being straightedge? no. and if there were, why would anyone do it? being straightedge is about looking after myself and not succumbing to any kind of peer pressure. i don't lecture to anybody about what i believe in (apart from that one time i picked up a pack of pete's cigarretes and danced them around the table, singing "i am death! i am death!"), because then i'd just be a third-rate jehovah's witness trying to convert my friends to the 'one, true belief'. i don't actually have a single straightedge friend, and it's not something i think about at all; I don't pick my friends based on their choice of tipple, and they're all cool as fuck.

since i first wrote this article, i've had tons of email about it. 95% of the time it's from people who are just passing on a little bit of respect for my choices; a few have been a note of thanks for explaining the term. then there are those who fancy wasting their time by writing me an email telling me how rubbish i am for being straightedge. they range from one (reasonably) well-written (if not well thought out) argument that, by not drinking or taking 'moderate' amounts of coke, i am shutting myself off from other levels of existence, to 4 emails from one guy who's first language obviously wasn't english, each saying "you are a gay and a discrace to britan". those mispellings were left in on purpose.

if you would like to write me an email about this page, then please feel free; if your email falls into the latter category of derision, then i can absolutely guarantee that a) it will fall on pretty deaf ears, and b) i will blog it for amusement purposes.