Alcoholic Education and Rules for Drinking

Alcohol never held much mystery for me. It was always around in my house, an accepted part of life but never a focus. My father had a drink every Friday when he got home from work. If I asked, I was welcome to take a sip, but I never wanted more than a taste. We had wine with dinner on Friday nights, and sometimes my brother and I might taste a little of whatever bottle my parents were having on nights we were dining in a nice restaurant. (You can read more about my parents and booze here.)

Once, in high school, I came home from a date around 11pm to find my father noodling around in the bar in our dining room. He asked me to come over so we could talk. Next thing you know, we were both sitting on the floor in front of the bar. Dad pulled out all the bottles and explained each one of them to me: what it was, what he and Mom were doing when they picked it up, how he liked to enjoy it. After his lesson, he asked if I’d like a nightcap, and I said yes. He called back to my mom, who was already in bed and watching TV in their room, and she said she wanted one too. So he poured all three of us a finger of Bailey’s. Dad and I carried the glasses to their bedroom, and I sat on the bed and sipped slowly like Dad showed me. My relationship with my parents was strained during my late adolescence, but that night still stands out to me as one of the best we shared together.

I did not become interested in alcohol until after I passed my 21st birthday. Until then, I didn’t try to buy alcohol, although I sometimes drank a little if I was at a party and it was around. It just wasn’t a big deal when I could go home any weekend and have a drink with my folks. In this way, I think the alcohol education I had at home was perfect.

Now I have my own child, who I will have the opportunity to educate about the joys and responsibilities of liquor as he grows up. It’s one of the aspects of parenting I most anticipate, because I enjoy alcohol almost as much as I love food and I look forward to sharing those pleasures with him.

Here are my rules for responsible drinking:

1. Never drink past a slight buzz. I got sick off of Wild Turkey once and never need to do so again.
2. Only drink when in a good mood. Alcohol amplifies a bad mood.
3. If it doesn’t taste good, don’t drink it.
4. (The only rule I bend) Don’t drink alone.

I decided this year that I want to start drinking more–I want to learn more about wine, and I want to enjoy the taste of alcohol more often. My husband does not drink, and when we are out to dinner I rarely want to spend the money on a drink unless it’s a special occasion. Like my father, I try to pick up interesting alcohol when traveling, but then it ends up just sitting on my bar–since my husband does not drink and we don’t entertain that often, it never gets consumed. I do drink alone at better restaurants, but never more than 1-2 glasses because if I’m alone I’ll have to drive home at the end of the night. I had a friend who lives alone over for dinner recently and she was astonished that I try not to drink solo. She suggested that I just try to have a glass of wine a few times each week to honor the pleasure I take in it. And I think she is right.

To that end, and in honor of my father who I love and respect, I’m drinking a shot of Bailey’s on crushed ice right now. And I’ve made an effort this summer to tipple a little more frequently. It’s been more fun than my other summertime goal (to be less of a wet blanket about yardwork) and hopefully will push my knowledge of wine and spirits in new directions.

What are your rules for drinking?

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