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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

With this drink, I do declare.......

excessive drinking is not what I am drinking to........

I'm telling you this for a few reasons.

First and foremost---just so you know.

And, secondly.....just so you know.

It seems like women and their drinking habits have been getting a lot of press lately.

And, a lot of that press is not good press.

Case in point--this article.

It's almost as if every blogger who has a blog that even suggests alcohol as a form of entertainment is being accused of somehow promoting excessive drinking.

It makes me feel awfully guilty. know....I do talk about martinis and wine and happy hour and gin and a few times I even talked about.....marijuana. And, I make it all sound fun and okay.
When, in reality, drugs and alcohol are serious things.
Especially when you say it like that--drugs and alcohol....eeeehhhhhhhh.

In spite of all of that--the fact that there are so many bloggers out there who talk about drinking alcohol in a light hearted, fun way also makes me feel as though there are more kindred spirits out there than I ever could have imagined....
I lift my glass to them....

Let's discuss this.
Well, I guess I'll do the talking.
You just listen.
And think if you want.
And comment if you feel like it.
No need to put down your glass of Pino Grigio.
Really, I promise....I won't make you feel bad about drinking least I hope not!

I'll start off by giving you my credentials.
I love wine---Cabernet with food, Chardonnay for fun and Sauvignon Blanc for refreshment
I love gin--Tanqueray and Hendrix. But I'll drink others.
I think Martinis are great. No olives. Limes.
I have a soft spot for gimlets. Very yummy.
I make a fab sangria. Vats of it.
I think there's a good time for Cosmopolitans. Especially when I want to look pretty.
I always have a stocked bar. And pretty glasses for drinks.
I love neighborhood bars as well as fancy-smancy ones. And cute bartenders.
I can and will drink before noon. If I'm thirsty, that is.
I have had a few hangovers in my time. They get worse with age.
(I'm sure I have many more credentials but this can't go on all day...)

Growing up, drinking was a major activity in our family. One side of the family is Irish, the other Italian. Which means we have always ate well and we drank well. We had our share of cousins and uncles and even aunts who drank just a wee bit too much on Christmas Eve and Easter. We had our share of arguments and fist fights when a little too many Manhattans were consumed. And, we definitely saw our share of relatives passed out after a party. I've got a treasure trove of family stories that involved drinking a little too much. I can even do a few pretty good impressions. So, you get it.....I'm no stranger to alcohol.

In my prelegal years--yeah, I had my encounters with Mad Dog, Sloe Gin and Irish Mist from my parents' bar cabinet. I hid beer in the washing machine and Ginny and Linda and I even snuck a few drinks in my bedroom closet. And, sure I filled a Vodka bottle with water after a little impromptu party with my parent's stash (do you think they ever found out?). And, yeah, I even snuck drinks at my cousin's at-home wedding.....only to get pretty sick right there in the backyard. So, you get it.....I drank when I shouldn't have.

In college---well.....let's just was college. The best thing that came out of my college alcohol escapades is that I swore off beer in my Freshman year and I haven't touched it since that one fateful night. Must have been some party there at the Theta Xi house....way back in ' make me swear off something forever. So, you get it....I had at least one excessive, sickly drinking moment. At least.

Since those college days and as I drifted through life the 30+ years since then--I have done my share of drinking and partying. Interestingly, the majority of the people around me have done the same. We share libations like some people play cards or darts. It's what we do. We have a few drinks, we laugh, we blow off some steam, we dance, we talk, we console. Sometimes we have more drinks than other times. We share drink recipes and wine tips and sometimes we even plan parties around drinks. As a matter of fact--we've even planned a few trips around drinks (most noteably wine tours). We find a common ground and a commraderie. So, you get it.....alcohol is a part of my life. A good and fun part of it.

Yet, it has also touched my life in many not-so-fun ways. You see, I have witnessed and lived through the heartbreak and the heartache that excessive alcohol drinking can bring. I have been that scared little girl worrying about whether my father would make it home alive or without killing someone. I watched loved ones suffer the agony of having an alcoholic in their lives. I've watched marriages break, childhoods crumble, lives lost, families destroyed, jobs sacrificed, and so many other tragedies--at the hands of alcohol. And, shamefully, there were times in my own life when I felt like I was teetering on the edge myself. It's not a good feeling. I've often looked around at my own family and wondered if it's all healthy fun or something more worrisome. I am so aware that as much fun as a few drinks can infuse into a night on the town,I also know first hand that alcohol can also be the monster that can and will wreck lives. The lives of good people---not bums or criminals or mentally impaired folks--good people. People that we all know and love.

So, what am I getting at here?

I'm not going to do a major analysis on women and drinking and alcoholism and why there are so many of us bloggers who talk about drinking as though there was no danger in it at all. Let's just try to remember that each and every one of us will be subjected to hundreds of thousands of messages each and every day---we can't blame the messengers. I am not going to try to explain why or how drinking has become romanticized. Nor an I going to make excuses for any of it. Because it's just not what I am going to do. It would be a slap in the face to the reality and pain that some very good people are living through. I think we all get it. Let's face it--the tragic accident that set off all of these discussions about women's alcohol use is undeniably horrific. There is no way to explain that away. And if that catastrophic situation and it's aftermath saved just one person from making the same choice--it may have not been in vain. But, whatever my feelings--or your feelings--about alcohol are...alcoholism is a real disease. I have no idea if it is preventable and I have no idea if it can ever be cured. And even though we are all accontable for our own actions, we are also responsible to take great care with each other--to fully recognize when someone in our lives needs help with alcoholism. It's not an easy thing to do--especially when that someone who needs help is a drinking buddy.

So..after all of that dialogue-- I need to tell you that even though I might talk about alcohol in a way that makes you think I promote excessive drinking--I don't. It's all a cocktail--a jigger of humor, a shot of true life and then shaken until it's sexy.

Listen...since I haven't said it before, I'm going to say it now...for the record--drinking responsibly is the only option. Excessive drinking can give you more than a headache the next day. It's that simple. And if there comes a time that you haven't been drinking responsibly, you need to admit it and allow someone else who can function take care of you.

With all of that said--I also want to say that there is no harm in being lighthearted in talking about happy hours or martinis or wine or girls night out---in blogs, in movies or in books. There are times when readers and viewers just have to take that information and process it with their own intelligence and life experiences. Just because everyone in the movie is sucking down cosmopolitans---it doesn't mean you have to.
Didn't your mother ever tell you that just because your friend jumped off a bridge doesn't mean you have to do the same?
I know my mother told me between sips of her high ball.....


Debbie said...

Bravo---well said.

Eileen, Founder, Organizer, Mayor and Chief Cook And Bottle Washer of the Anger Management Girls. said...

Sometimes you just have to laugh about things. Alcoholism isn't funny to alot of people, but to my husband and his brothers and sisters humor was the only thing that got them through it.
Now my family was complete opposite. Besides me, NO ONE in my family ever touched a drink in their lives.
No big deal, they just didn't like the taste. Everyone thought my dad was just another crazy Irishman dancing drunk on a table, truth is, he was stone sober.
Then there's me............

(My home computer broke, that's why I haven't been around lately. Plus... I've been on a drinking bindge. ONLY JOKING!)