Portland, I love you, but we have to talk.

I went to a concert at Thompson’s Point a few weeks ago – and I spent the majority of it absolutely miserable.

This wasn’t because of the band (Lake Street Dive was amazing and talented, as always). It wasn’t because of the weather (the sunset was beautiful over the water). It wasn’t even because I was a sober, recovering alcoholic stuck in the middle of a large, tightly packed crowd in which almost everyone else had a drink in their hand.

It was because I was a sober, recovering alcoholic stuck in the middle of a large, tightly packed crowd in which almost everyone else had a drink in their hand, and there was nothing for me. (Shout-out to my supportive boyfriend who stayed sober with me, except for the one beer he chugged when I went to the bathroom.)

I get it, Portland. We’re a Craft Beer Capital. You’ve got to display the local wares. Breweries help sponsor shows and keep the city’s economy hops-ing along. (Get it?) Concerts, alcohol and young people are a can’t-miss combination. But couldn’t you get Capt’n Eli’s Soda to sponsor a table? Or at least get a kid to set up a lemonade stand?

I patrolled the perimeter of the concerts, going food truck to food truck, trying to find something to safely drink. One of the vendors did appear to have a cooler of sodas, but it had a line at least 25 people deep waiting for tacos. The two enormous beer bars, offering both cans and drafts, had no such lines. The only place I was able to locate that had a drinkable option and a manageable line was the Love Kupcakes truck, which had a bucket of canned seltzer waters. And I hate seltzer water. (I love their kupcakes, though.)

There are plenty of reasons why someone – even a hip-and-trendy young person – might not drink: medical issues, religious beliefs, driving responsibilities. In a city like Portland, there is no reason why a menu with cocktails that cost in the double digits shouldn’t be able to come up with a mocktail that tastes good and that isn’t embarrassing to order. (Please don’t make me have to look another adult in the face and say the words “virgin daiquiri.”) Restaurants, you should get in on the action, too. If your servers can list your entire beer and wine selection, they should be able to list your sodas on tap, too – not just say “Pepsi products.” I don’t know what products fall under the massive Pepsi corporation’s distribution label. Just tell me if you have Sunkist or not, OK? And – let us settle this once and for all – sticking a wedge of lemon on the edge of a water glass does not make the water fancy.

As it turns out, when you can’t have alcohol, you really start to notice how pervasive and ubiquitous it is (as I am sure anyone who has ever been pregnant could have told me). A recent study indicates that alcohol-related deaths have risen sharply in America, especially among 25- to 34-year-olds – a problem that has many causes and will require many solutions, but having equal opportunity for the tastebuds of teetotalers certainly won’t hurt. Booze is big business, but Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts (among other beverage retailers) seem to be doing just fine without it. (Dunkin’ Donuts in particular is probably making record profits now that I have discovered their French Vanilla flavor shots. At this point I should just open up a franchise to get a bulk discount.)

This is Maine! We have tons of options! Maine Root soda. The aforementioned Capt’n Eli’s. Approximately one million coffee shops (my favorite is Coffee By Design; my boyfriend is a Speckled Ax guy). Dairy farms all over the place – why not serve up locally sourced smoothies?

And if pricing is an issue for your event, you don’t have to hire a full food truck or beverage cart. Contact me and I will personally set up an umbrella, a phone charging station and an ice bucket full of Moxie. We can call it the Millennial Introvert-Slash-Sobriety Station (the MISS for short), and my rates will be very reasonable – especially when you consider the revenue lost from people who can’t imbibe, and who feel left out of the fun.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @mainemillennial