First, Caffeinated Drinks. Now, Whipped Cream. What’s Next?

First, alcohol made its way into caffeinated drinks (“Farewell to ‘Blackout in a Can‘”)–until the FDA put the kibosh on that liquid marriage. Now, it’s managed to make an appearance in whipped cream, under the name Whipped Lightning. What will they think of next?

According to an ABC News report, Whipped Lightning, an alcohol infused whipped cream, is now a “craze” among college students, who top everything from jello shots to coffee with the stuff. And, like the once alcohol-filled Four Loko beverage, Whipped Lightning reportedly gets kids wasted without them even knowing it.

Advertised as an “alcoholic beverage,” Whipped Lightning’s “Whipahol” can get up to 36.5 proof, and comes in flavors like amaretto, german chocolate and strawberry colada. On its website, the Whipped Lightning company proudly states, “We’ve never had Whipped Lightning tested to determine how many calories are in a serving. Whipahol is not a food product and is not subject to FDA labeling requirements; it is an alcoholic beverage. You should consume Whipahol in moderation, please enjoy it responsibly.”

The whipped “beverage” is being monitored by health officials, who are concerned it could be dangerous for minors. “They can get a significant amount of alcohol in one shot,’’ Dr. Anita Barry, a director at the Boston Public Health Department, told the Boston Herald.

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Gratitude Month

For our holiday story series, we have invited some of our contributors to share a story, an episode, an experience that took place during the holiday season. We hope you will enjoy reading these stories as they appear each Monday.

By Tara T. Handron

I was talking with a friend of mine this morning at our semi-weekly coffee date. With certain circumstances happening in her life, she mentioned she didn’t exactly feel grateful, and with it being “Gratitude Month,”  she really did not want to share this at recovery meetings. I said I didn’t think the point of “Gratitude Month” was to force us to lie or fake it. Honesty is still the best policy. That might be easy for me to say, especially right now, as I do feel grateful for so much that’s in my life.

This year, I spent Thanksgiving with a combination of friends, family and fellow runners. I participated in a Thanksgiving road race to put food in the bellies of those who don’t have an abundance of options and resources this holiday.

As I thought about the abundance in my life, I was reminded that when I was drinking, I was not able to participate in life this way. I didn’t have multiple invitations for dinner and even if I did, I would stay in one place because I loathed driving and loved drinking.

Alcohol was my date. Alcohol was all I thought about as my dad and uncles yelled at Notre Dame for some fumble or whatever it is they do in football that warrants grown men yelling at a one-way box of communication.

Alcohol and food were available from noon onward. My anxiety would rise because how I was I to manage myself, how was I to pace myself? The worst part of the day was figuring out when I could allow myself to start drinking because I knew once I started I wouldn’t want to stop, and yet I would have to stop and be careful. This was family, not some bar (although by the end of my drinking, I did start to treat family weddings as if they were college reunions…lovely).

And so would go my holiday–obsessed with what I could drink, wanting to drink so much more than I could, and eating more than I could metabolize in a week (yes, there have been some issues in that area, but that is another story for a another site).

Today, I show up to the functions with a real date, a nice date, one who can talk and interact with my family. My old boyfriend, alcohol, would cloud my vision, make me talk too loud, and just make me seem outright obnoxious.

I can participate genuinely in conversations with people. I can help set the table, make the salad, watch football with my father and ask him to explain to me for the millionth time what that call meant, and I can grab my nephew before he tries to escape and direct traffic outside the house again.

When alcohol was my date, he was all I thought about. He was all I wanted. I thought he was helping me to be funny and personable and connect with others better. Instead, he was making me bloated, inarticulate, and a semi-sedated neurotic.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make my famous ‘slice and bake’ chocolate chip cookies.

Happy “Gratitude Month.” Go forth and be grateful, for something, anything!

Tara T. Handron is an actor, writer, and communications/change management consultant in Washington, DC.  She is the founder of What’s a Girl to Do Productions. She wrote, produced and has performed in her one-woman show, Drunk with Hope in Chicago, about 20+ women and their experiences with alcoholism and recovery. You can read our interview with Tara here.

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Shopping Goggles–a Holiday Hazard?

We interrupt this blog to bring you a holiday advisory: Think twice before drinking and shopping. Or at least shop first, then celebrate, rather than vice versa. Unless you want to end up with deliverymen on your doorstep the next day, waiting for you to sign for that Barca Lounge Massage Chair that seemed so fantastic the day before, after you’d had a few glasses of wine.

Here’s a funny tidbit:

On a recent Friday afternoon in Bar Louie at the upscale Legacy Village in Lyndhurst, Ohio, four women — all mothers in their late 30s — laughed and raised glasses in the corner. They try to get together at least once a week to shop, sip and socialize. They’ve learned their lesson about what the order should be.

“Now we get our shopping done first,” said Cassi (none of the four wanted her last name used). “If you drink before, you just get too brave. You spend too much money.”

“I get shopping goggles,” said Kim, citing a recent incident when she dropped $90 on a sweater while tipsy.

“The next morning, I was like, ‘Oh, my God, what was I thinking?’” Perhaps the worst place to get your drink on is in your own house, near your computer.

Karry’s been there. “I was at home drinking,” she remembered, “and I thought, ‘Oh, my God, I need bras.’ ” She found a couple at Nordstrom.com and spent $55 — each.

Several years back, The Baylor College of Medicine even issued a public advisory: “Don’t drink and shop during the holidays.” Drinking before shopping relaxes you, to the point where you may linger in the stores and spend more money than you normally would.

On the other hand, shopping can be stressful, especially on Black Friday, with visions of trampled shoppers floating around your head. So maybe a few drinks can take the edge off, or help you relax when you try on bikinis.

Drinking and shopping–pro or con? What do you think?

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Interview with Sue William Silverman, author of the memoir “Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey Through Sexual Addiction”

Each week, we post short interviews with interesting people about their thoughts and feelings on women and drinking. There is such a wide array of perspectives about this topic, and we are excited to gain insight into as many as possible and to share them with you.

Sue William Silverman’s memoir, Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction, is also a Lifetime television movie.  Her first memoir, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs award in creative nonfiction.  As a professional speaker, Sue has appeared on The View, Anderson Cooper 360, CNN-Headline News, and a documentary on WE-TV.  She teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and her craft book is Fearless Confessions: A Writers Guide to Memoir.

Drinking Diaries: How old were you when you had your first drink and what was it?

Sue William Silverman: I was a freshman in college, and I think it was a screwdriver. I didn’t like the taste of it, but I drank it at a fraternity party – kind of peer pressure – to fit in.

How did/does your family treat drinking?

Growing up, my family hardly ever drank. True or not (probably not), I always heard from my parents that “Jewish people don’t drink very much.” So alcohol wasn’t part of my upbringing.

How do you approach alcohol in your every day life?

I haven’t had any alcohol in well over a decade.  My metabolism is such that I can feel drunk or high very quickly – and I don’t like that feeling. Additionally, probably because I’m a recovering sex addict, I tend to stay away from anything that has the potential to make me feel “not myself,” or numbed out, or out of control.

Have you ever had a phase in your life when you drank more or less?

When I was acting out in terms of the sexual addiction, I sometimes used alcohol to “enhance” the sexual addiction, lower my inhibitions. In other words, I’ve never been an alcoholic, but I did “use” it, on occasion, to make it emotionally “easier” to act out with inappropriate men. Mind you, I would pretty much act out with men anyway, without a drop of alcohol in my system. So drinking wasn’t a consistent thing, or a drug that I really needed. In short, I didn’t need alcohol to feel high; I needed men to feel high!

What’s your drink of choice? Why?

When I drank, it was usually Scotch.  In the sex addiction – i.e., in my “magical thinking” of an addict – I believed men would find me sexy if I drank Scotch. Of course, this was based on nothing but my own addictive thinking at the time.

Can you tell us about the best time you ever had drinking?

None. I can’t think of any time when drinking was positive, or allowed me to be more interesting, funny, witty, etc. If I can be interesting, funny, etc., on my own – great. But, if I’m boring (and aren’t we all sometimes!), well…I’d rather be boring than use a substance to feel high.

Has culture or religion influenced your drinking?

That mantra I always heard from my parents – “Jewish people don’t drink very much” – I’m sure influenced me. (Again, I have no idea if there is any basis of fact to this claim, or if it’s pure myth.) However, anyone with an addictive personality has a “drug” of choice, so I used sex/men instead.

Why do, or don’t you, choose to drink?

I don’t drink because it makes me feel unhealthy, both physically and emotionally. This is not a moralistic stance. In other words, I’m not opposed to alcohol on moral grounds; I don’t judge people who drink. It’s just a personal decision. I’m better off not drinking.

Do you have a favorite book, song, or movie about drinking?

I find Leaving Las Vegas a fascinating movie about drinking – or, really, about alcoholism. It’s a cautionary tale, with brilliant acting both by Nicholas Cage and Elisabeth Shue. At the same time, a wonderful movie that explores recovery from alcohol and drugs is Clean and Sober starring Michael Keaton.

An older movie, and book, The Lost Weekend, is also brilliant, especially since it was written before we knew that much about the disease of alcoholism.  The novel, published in 1944, is by Charles R. Jackson.  And Ray Milland stars in the 1945 movie adaptation.

I might also mention that Flaubert’s novel, Madame Bovary, is a fascinating book to read in terms of addiction: Emma Bovary, the protagonist, is addicted to alcohol, sex, men, food, money.  I say it’s a fascinating book because Flaubert wrote it in 1857, before anyone knew anything about addiction. In short, he portrayed the character of Emma as an addict, without knowing the term.

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We Want to Know: What Do You Think of Liquor Being Sold on Sundays?

Here in the U.S., it’s getting easier to buy alcohol on Sundays, with more states allowing Sunday liquor sales and more communities starting to sell booze as early as 6 a.m.

Thirty-six states now allow Sunday sales of distilled spirits, up by 14 from 2002.

Why the change? Economists cite the downturn. In an article in USA Today, Lisa Hawkins of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States said “blue laws…simply don’t make sense in today’s economy. They inconvenience consumers and deprive states of much-needed tax revenue.”

Some communities have opted to compromise—agreeing to allow the sale of liquor on Sundays, but voting for later opening times for the stores—say, noon, instead of first thing in the morning.

When it comes to the blue laws, I’m of two minds. On one hand, it’s a little depressing for people to buy liquor at six in the morning. Can’t one day be sacred? On the other hand, Sunday seems a bit arbitrary, and tied to religion. Not everyone holds Sunday as a day of rest, and some religions include wine or other liquor as part of their rituals and meals.

We want to know: what do you think of liquor stores being open on Sundays?

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