Thursday, December 5, 2013


My paternal grandparents were teetotallers and did not even allow spirits of any kind in the house. My maternal grandmother liked a glass of sherry every evening. My mother almost got arrested at the nursing home because she fought so hard for her mother to continue having her evening glass of sherry.

My own relationship with alcohol is not so black or white. As a teenager, I smoked pot. Alcohol was just not interesting to me. I recall drinking some beer, but I favored Miller ponies (the shame!) because there was a small chance that I might actually finish one before it got hot. When I did get to the point where I might have a mixed drink, I liked a Pina Colada. Clearly, I wasn't in to alcohol!

So how did I end up married to an alcoholic, you might ask? He was abstaining from alcohol when I met him because he was living with an older cousin who was a recovering alcoholic. Never in a million years did it occur to me that he might have a problem. When I met his family, I cheerfully answered, "I'm a drug and alcohol counselor" when asked about my career. Only much later would I be able to make sense of the stunned silence that followed my response. My new husband's mother was an alcoholic who had been married five times - to five alcoholics. My husband's father, absent from his life for years at the time I met him, was one of those five alcoholic husbands. My husband's sisters were both drug addicts, addicted to crack cocaine. My husband's brothers were alcoholics, although the oldest had managed to completely distance himself from the family and was clean and sober. My husband was considered to be the only healthy member of the family. He had never mentioned any of this during our short courtship.

After our first son was born, I encouraged him to find an activity to do outside the house. He joined the office bowling league and promptly started coming home drunk on Wednesday nights. I'll spare you the ugly details. After an attempt at marriage counseling, thwarted by his mother who told him "there is NOTHING wrong with you!!!", the marriage was over.

But my relationship with alcohol pre-dated my fiasco marriage. My father's second wife was a raging alcoholic who was typically drunk by about 3 p.m. every day. My sister and I first visited the new couple when we were 9 and 10. The next summer, she became enraged at me and sicced her German Shepherd on me. I narrowly escaped mayhem by climbing an apple tree. My father came home from work, rescued me and took me to the airport to send me back home to my mother. My father and I were estranged for a few years after that and only reconciled after that marriage ended.

You could say that alcohol has not been kind to me. So why do I have alcohol in my cupboard? For one, I love to cook. The Pioneer Woman's Whiskey Glazed Carrots are amazing, so Jack Daniels is an absolute MUST have. My sweetheart likes a good screwdriver, so I keep Ketel One and orange juice in the house for him. The other bottles are the product of having people over for dinner and asking them what they like to drink. I also keep red and white wines on hand, just in case. But if left to my own devices, an open bottle of wine will eventually be poured down the drain. I just don't drink.

One of my favorite takes on alcohol is a song written by Sofie Livebrant & Svante Sjoblom and recorded by Brad Paisley:


I can make anybody pretty
I can make you believe any lie
I can make you pick a fight
with somebody twice
your size. . .

Well I've been known to cause a few breakups
and I've been known to cause a few births
I can make you new friends
Or get you fired from work.

And since the day I left Milwaukee,
Lynchburg, Bordeaux, France
Been makin the bars
Lots of big money
and helpin white people dance
I got you in trouble in high school
but college now that was a ball
you had some of the best times
you'll never remember with me
Alcohol, Alcohol

I got blamed at your wedding reception
for your best man's embarassing speech
and also for those naked pictures of you at the beach
I've influenced kings and world leaders
I helped Hemingway write like he did
and I`ll bet you a drink or two that I can make you
put that lampshade on your head . .


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