Friday, December 25, 2015

30 Days Dry - Part 2: Drunk History

I was never much for underage drinking.

I think I only had a drink one time when I was at a high school party. It was a wine cooler, didn’t taste very good and I didn’t get the appeal. The sneaking around just felt weird and I felt like I had better things to do with my time.

Did I have a superiority complex in high school? Oh yeah, you better believe it. I didn’t really see my time in high school as time to be messing around. I wanted to get into a good college and prove to my classmates that this music stuff I was doing wasn’t something that make me dorky, but something that made me special.

When my brother turned 21 (I’m three years younger), my parents would let me have a glass a wine with dinner, but I was apprehensive and didn’t really get into it. I’ve never developed a palette for wine. I respect the art and craft of creating wine and the complexities of the flavors, but the snobbery and overall sweetness of most wines didn’t appeal to me.

Then I went to college and joined a fraternity (read more about this in this series of posts). No, the floodgates did not open up. I was at Northwestern University. None of my friends wanted to waste their time being drunk all of the time. We understood and valued that freedom away from adult responsibilities afforded us time to do explore new experience and live life to the fullest. However, for my group of friends this meant join marching band, joining clubs and take extra classes.

Don’t get me wrong. I had my moments. There were emails sent when I was drunk that I regret sending, close encounters with university police and nights that left more of an impression than clear memories. While I had fun, I didn’t really enjoy drinking alcohol my first couple years at college. I just drank to party and to loosen up.

When I turned 21, I really felt like I grew up in my understanding and appreciation of the culture of drinking. I started to develop a taste for beer and drank mixed drinks that instead of hiding the taste of the alcohol, and eventuated the nuances. Drinking at bars legally was far more fun than standing in a crowded dorm room holding a red plastic cup filled with some mystery punch. That type of situation made me feel like a high school student playing pretend. Sitting in a bar made me feel like an adult.

Like most people I went through phases in my drinking. First it was Southern Comfort, than whiskey, than beer, vodka, than back to beer, a weird phase where I was all about Rieslings and lately I’ve been into craft beers.

When I was in high school and early college, I drank because I wanted to fit in. I enjoyed it on some level but I could live without it. It wasn’t until I got to my mid-twenties that I enjoyed drinking for what it meant culturally. There was the tradition, and the history but more anything else for a guy who felt like a sissy for most of his life, drinking made me feel like a man.

Lately, this fact has been bothering me.

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