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.
Susan Senator is the author of Making Peace Wth Autism: One Family’s Story of Struggle, Discovery, and Unexpected Gifts, (Trumpeter, 2005), and The Autism Mom’s Survival Guide (For Dads, Too!): Creating a Balanced and Happy Life While Raising a Child with Autism (Trumpeter, 2010) Her current novel, Dirt: A story about gardening, mothering, and other messy business (Stellated, 2011) features a severely autistic young man as one of the main characters. Susan has written articles and essays on disability, education, parenting, and living happily, in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Exceptional Parent Magazine, Family Fun, and Education Week. She currently works as Director of Autism Adult Services and Outreach at the Community Colleges Consortium for Autism and Intellectual Disabilities (CCCAID).
Drinking Diaries: How old were you when you had your first drink and what was it?
Susan Senator: I had Manischewitz concord grape wine at my grandmother’s Passover seder. I was probably 10. My face got very hot and red.
How did/does your family treat drinking?
It was assumed that I would not drink underage, and so I didn’t. My parents did not drink much. Mom occasionally has a glass of red and crackers at around 5, and Dad joins her with an Amstel lite. Mom offers guests a glass of wine in the evening. We are more of an eating family than a drinking family.
I actually wish I liked it better than I do, because so many people are into wine and beer as connoisseurs. I hardly ever have drinks (only when out with girlfriends, which is perhaps every other month), and when I do, it is a glass or two of sweet Riesling. Probably once or twice a month.
If you have kids, how is the subject of drinking handled? Do you drink in front of them? With them?
I do drink in front of them. My kids do not want to drink. My 20 year old son got sick drunk once, at a party, and does not like to drink at all now.
Have you ever had a phase in your life when you drank more or less?
I drank every weekend of my freshman year of college, before I transferred to Penn. I went to Trinity in Hartford that first year, and the bulk of the social life was centered around drinking. Blackberry brandy at a football game, scotch in a friend’s dorm room…
What’s your drink of choice? Why?
I love only sweet white wines. My palate never grew up,
Can you tell us about the best time you ever had drinking?
Probably the best time I had drinking was with my single friend Lisa, within the last year! There were a lot of men around us, which was funny for me, being a happily married woman for 27 years. It felt like a big, flirty party.
What about the worst time?
Freshman year, when I turned 18, I drank with Jay, a guy I barely even liked, and made out a little with him in his dorm. It was dreary and dark. I don’t think I smiled once.
Do you have a favorite book, song, or movie about drinking?
“Sarah T,” with Linda Blair, was scary in a fun way, when I was a teen.
What do you like most about drinking?
I like the first buzz and the warmth inside. It relaxes me.
Why do, or don’t you, choose to drink?
Usually I just don’t even think to. It is so not a part of my life. My problems are resisting chocolate and other sweets while my sons gorge themselves.
If you could be any drink, what would it be? Why?
I guess I’d be a French Muscat. It’s down-to-earth, sweet, and bubbly.