just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water
random friday, 1987 edition: pet shop boys, “rent"


I don’t always drink, but when I do, I prefer …

Well, I prefer non-alcoholic beverages, let’s be honest. Ice-cold water, Fanta limon, limeade. If I have alcohol, my choice for a few decades now has been beer. I can’t remember the last time I had hard likker … and it’s been even longer since I had a mixed drink. It’s not a moral stance, I just don’t like being drunk, and I don’t always know when to stop, although I’ll have wine with dinner once in awhile and never feel the need to drink too much. Maybe I do know how to stop, now … I am a grownup, after all.

So this is more a nostalgic post than a current affairs post. I did most of my drinking in my 20s, when I worked in the factory. That was the only time in my life I went to bars with any regularity, and “regular” is stretching the truth a bit. But I would go to bars on occasion, I would often get drunk when I did go, and I’ve puked in a few interesting places in my day.

But that’s not what interests me here. I’m remembering how my choice of alcohol was always a conscious one, and how my choice was not always, or even usually, about what I liked to drink.

It took me awhile to like beer, which seemed like an acquired taste at first. But I would choose beer whenever I wanted to emphasize my blue-collar status. We’d be out with … well, with the kind of person I turned into, let’s be honest … and I’d get all aggressively working-class, and that meant beer!

What I really liked was sour drinks. Margaritas were always acceptable, and I’d order them whenever I didn’t feel the need to trumpet the fact that my clothes got dirty where I worked. Even better were whiskey sours. It seems like a billion years ago, but there was indeed a time when I’d go to bars and order whiskey sours. I haven’t had one of those in decades, can barely recall what they tasted like. But it was the closest I came to an adult’s drink. Beer, well, even teenagers drink beer. Margaritas were like Slurpees. But whiskey sours? Made with real likker, served in real glasses, “on the rocks.” When I drank a whiskey sour, I was pretending to be a grownup.

And that gets to the point, I suspect. I can talk about the class-based reasons for choosing what I drank, but more important was how much I did or didn’t want to feel like an adult. Mixed drinks were something my parents enjoyed, not my generation. We did drugs.

And I’ve never gotten over that feeling. I am 57 years old, and to this day, if I go to a contemporary’s home and they have a liquor cabinet, or even just a bottle of nice Scotch in the cupboard, I am surprised … look at these people, it’s like they think they are grownups!

Honestly, the alcohol-related item I would most like to see on my table these days is grasshopper pie. Anyone out there make it?