Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday Memories--Fog of Alcohol

I won't be getting drunk for Mardi Gras or even drinking.  I do not like to drink.  I have my vices and drinking is not one of them.  Perhaps this aversion to alcohol comes from my early drinking experiences. Perhaps I am just not composed or disposed to that particular pleasure.

When I was 19 the state of Illinois decided in its infinite wisdom and farsightedness that if one was young enough to fight in the War in Vietnam, one could belly up to a bar and buy a beer.  I was a young legal college drinker.  I went to some boozy parties but I didn't admire the drunks there or enjoy their company, so I pretty quickly quit going to frat parties and the like.  My friend and I might indulge in a thimleful of some high class wine like Ripple or Boones Farm on a Saturday night, but most of the bottle went to waste. 

Then, my sophomore year in college I was an exchange student to Brighton College of Education in Brighton, England, UK.  There was a pub culture there.  It seemed calmer than the wild American frat parties.  For one thing, alcohol was pricey and we were all poor.  I drank hard cider which had a low alcohol content and I could generally afford only one or two in an entire evening of pub crawling.  It was fun to be in a foreign country and do things with other kdis my age.

At a reception for the exchange students once they served us a tiny glass of sherry.  It was delicious, but strong.  I thought, "I like sherry!"  Then near the end of my time in England, some nuns who worked at the Brighton College invited several of we American Catholics over for a little visit.  We put it off and put it off until it was the last Saturday in England and I definitely had my sights on one last pub crawl.

The nuns, one of whom was Sister Moira, I believe, were from Ireland.  Sister offered us some sherry and the three of us accepted.  The only thing was, the sherry wasn't served in tiny glasses, it was in tumblers that looked huge to me.  The plan was--stop in, say hi, chat for maybe 10 minutes, then be on our way!  A huge glass of sherry was a problem.  The other girls were a little older and more experienced drinkers.  They manged to chug their sherry and be ready to go.  Unfortunately, I sat next to the hostess who poured more sherry in my glass without asking me right as I was stnading up to go.  The only thing to do was drink it, because I didn't want to be rude.  But, It was really hard to get it down.  Finally, I managed to drink it all and stand up and walk out of there.

We all went to the first pub.  I ordered a cider which as I recall, I wasn't able to drink.  I went back to the lodging and cried all night.  I wasn't sick, although I felt very dehydrated and had a headache.  I have never tasted sherry since then and have no desire ever to again.  I decided that if that was what drunk felt like I never wanted to be that again.  I have had a few drinks since those days and I have discovered that alcohol works like the depressent it is in my system and tends to make me sad.

That is why, tomorrow, on Mardi Gras, you won't find me in the bars or lifting a glass.  I will be painting my toenails!

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