>I am a lightweight drinker. I never learned to drink. Who knew that had to be on the TO DO LIST for life ?
My father was an Irish alcoholic and it worried me, as I seemed to possess many of his foibles and gifts. We had the gift of gab, and rage and humor and strength and irony and sadness. And so I eschewed drinking, thinking that would inoculate me from all the other pejorative traits we shared.
Mostly it meant that I never learned to have more than a half of a beer, or two glasses of wine or a martini. That was until I turned 50. Then I wanted to drink. It was the Millennium and then there was September 11 and then the economic downturn, and we still have a year and a half until this decade is closed. So I began to drink.
My drinking is still meager by comparison to most adults, but it is downright puny when viewed thought the always-full cup of my children and their generation DRINX. My daughter is 24 and my son turns 21 next month. They have been drinking for a while and they often imbibe with a vengeance that scares the shit out of me.
I saw my son boast that he downed 18 beers for his 18th birthday. I see his beer cans in recycling. (We don’t hide things too much in our family) My daughter used to drink more but of late she can’t really hold her liquor. She is tiny as an ant. But I used to I hear her tossing her cookies in the only bathroom in our downtown loft. She has turned her back on the kind of binge drinking or over-kill that seems to equally attract and plague her peers.
When she went to her cousin’s 25th birthday party, she found the girl weeping in the kitchen with a drink stuffed into each fist. The birthday girl’s friends just kept the drinks coming saying, “Don’ cry, it’s your birthday.” My daughter removed the drinks and said, “Go ahead have a good cry if that’s what you want; it’s your birthday.” Atta girl.
I always choose emotions over mind numbing, but then I love a good cry, a pitched battle, epithets hurled with aplomb and lots of make-up banter. I like blood letting, cauterizing wounds and airing the laundry. I love all the metaphors for getting the bad stuff out in the open so the good can flourish.
And I seem to be mighty provocative.
If I am to be honest, I have never been with a man who hasn’t thrown things, broken things and come at me wailing. My kindest, most meek, nice Jewish boy friend ripped the head off an expensive teddy bear be brought me from Zurich in a fit of pique. But my son seems to drink to suppress all his feelings and that freaks me out.
The other night after working 12 hour shifts for eight days strait, he went out with the rest of the tech crew from Project Runway, oh sorry no one is supposed to know so. . . Code name Cheesecake Productions. I was up or half up, doing that thing our parents did and our kids will do, which is waiting with ears and jeans at the ready in case we have to fly to the rescue.
I heard Henry come in. A little stumble and crash into furniture positioned too close for his tall frame under the influence. I said Hi in a cheery voice and he responded. When I asked him where he’d been he got grumpy. He was ready for a hello and nothing more. He hates questions under the best of circumstances but drunk FUGETABOUTIT.
I got up and asked if he wanted food or tea or water. He brushed his teeth, took out his contacts and said all he wanted was bed. His eyes were ablaze in his head, not actually tracking and I could see him list toward his room. I asked again about Advil or water. “No ma I just want to pass out.”
I couldn’t sleep. I am troubled by his drinking, I am deeply nervous about the drinking of his friends, his cousins, in fact, his entire cohort. The over-kill thing terrifies me. Here is a kid who wants to eat no carbs and work out and then drinks more than a dozen beers. Crazy right?
The next day I left for the country without so much as a note. I never do that. And then I felt I acted the way I ask him not to. I was obtuse and extremely not transparent. I called to leave an apology message for running off, but explained that the drinking freaked me out. To my great surprise and to his credit he called me back.
“ Ma this is your issue not mine. I can have one drink or none, or I can get hammered. It is my choice. The other night I got many people, who were much more drunk than I was home. And I got home safe, brushed my teeth and went to sleep. I got up and went to the gym. Now, I am cleaning my room. So get over it. This is your issue not mine. Clear”
“ Well I guess so. But mostly thanks for calling me back and talking to me, cause you didn’t have to do that. You could have just deleted the message and let it go. So thanks.”
I felt better after talking to him, for not keeping my thoughts to myself, but it made me wonder how this Generation DRINX will unfold. I think it is more than my issue. Maybe I can figure it out tonight after a cocktail.