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Drink Responsibly

I grew up in a household that was pretty comfortable with drinking. I remember a beer in my dad’s hand along with many of my earliest memories. Like many guys from the 70s and 80s (or so it seemed) he had a beer can collection. Our families lined the stairwell going to our basement and was covered with a thick layer of dust but still served as a source of pride for my father. I observed a rather unhealthy relationship with alcohol and illustrations about how not to consume it more often then not.

When I was 12 I got a nasty cough with some heavy congestion and my father explained to me that all I needed to clear it up was a shot of Jack Daniels (don’t ask me to explain this logic, it still doesn’t make sense to me). Twelve year old Dave didn’t like this idea and certainly did not want to “take a shot” so he/I declined as diplomatically as possible. My father became frustrated and eventually had to run downstairs to move a load of laundry over to the dryer. As he took the step down from the dinning room to the garage he gave me a stern look and added “DRINK IT DAVE” before darting around the corner. Standing in the kitchen looking at the murky liquid before me I decided deception was the way to play this and so I quickly poured it down the nearby sink. This left a dark residue so I instinctively turned the faucet on to rinse it out. It was only on for a moment but it was enough for my father to hear and I heard him pounding his way back up the stairs with rage in his eyes. Whether he was furious I tried to deceive him or that I wasted his whisky I'll never know but he was undoubtedly angry. He poured a double this time and handed it to me forcefully without saying a word. Obediently I gulped it down and tried not to gag. Satisfied, he silently walked off. I went to bed early that night, no better off than I was before but a little on the dizzy side. This wasn't my first experience with alcohol and sadly not my last.

My mother and father enjoyed drinking and smoking and (surprisingly) were never against my sister and I partaking either. When my sister was 16 she regularly enjoyed Bacardi breezes with my mom and my disapproval was met with a strong backlash of “mind your own business”. And so it went with me being the rebel by avoiding these types of vices. In high school and college I consistently played the role of designed driver for my friends very rarely participating and never when my parents might find out. Looking back I realize how odd it is to hide drinking from my parents because I didn’t want them to call me a hypocrite not because they didn’t want me to drink. In fact my father very commonly offered me a beer throughout my youth. When I turned 18 my father asked me to go to the store and buy him some cigarettes but I refused and he fumed for weeks thereafter about how “ungrateful” I was. He didn't even ask me to get beer when I turned 21.

From age 10 through high school we would visit my step-grandparents’ house for holidays and family celebrations. My father fit in well with the heavy Catholic imbibing of the family and I mostly hid out with my cousins playing in the woods behind their house (which is now a Walmart). I always hated going home because my father would inevitably be at least tipsy and occasionally plastered. He was an angry drunk and most of the times when I was abused it was because he was too far into a bottle or case of beer. If he got into an argument with my uncles we would hear about it on the ride home. Sometimes he let my step-mom drive and others times he insisted, those were the scariest. There was one such ride where she continued to insist to drive us home when he’d finally “had enough”. He threw her black Mazda 626 into park suddenly and punched the sound system as hard as he could. Plastic bits went flying and the lights blinked off and on. I could see his hand was bloody as he put the car back into drive and announced we “all need to shut the F%&* up” and leave him alone. Needless to say I observed enough bad examples of what alcohol can do to an otherwise caring person to be cautious.

As an adult I still rarely drink but don’t have any strong feelings against it so long as folks are responsible. I use the Untapped app to track what I drink and enjoy trying new beers on occasion but it usually takes several months for me to drink a 6 pack. My kids are all still underage and the older kids have expressed strong dislike for alcohol. They’ve not observed the same things I have so guess they’re just wise beyond their years. My father-in-law sadly past away last year and many of his health issues were attributed to heavy drinking. I am not saying to 100% avoid alcohol just to know your limits and be responsible especially where your loved ones are concerned.


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