–Martin Luther King, Jr.
Have you ever been to a Twitter party? Neither had we, until Wednesday night. Thanks to Mama Drama NY and Holly Rosen Fink, otherwise known as The Culture Mom, we had a virtual Drinking Diaries *hangout*–and it was great!
We asked women to tweet us their Drinking stories in 140 characters or less, and it turned out that the brevity of the form allowed us to find the soul and essence of our sagas.
Here are some of the responses we got:
“Brunch as 12 yr old on fam trip to DC. Buzzed, dropped whipped creamy Belgian waffle on my lap.”
“Drank Everclear, never even got a buzz and ended up passing out 2x in front of someone’s mother – lesson learned.”
“My New Year’s Eve 1965 swandive into @TrudyCampbellNY’s punchbowl at midnight.”
“Phoenix tequila tasting – w/rattlesnake heads on our plates!”
“I woke up on my bathroom floor in a bathrobe.. with empty pizza boxes next to me (no memory of eating)”
“Blk&tans @ Rogues show. Home on bike in soft rain. Stopped for red light. Stayed in crosswalk. Trucker never saw me.”
“Paris Junior year abroad:too much red wine, spiked disco ball across the room, spat wine in bartender’s face.”
“Have very strong memories of my Dad pouring scotch every Friday night.The clink of ice signaled the weekend.”
“Drinking story would probably be from my high school days. I used drinking to be extroverted and fun.”
“Started at 13 on a dare continued thru 20s hit thirty and slowed down, still enjoy but not as often as i wish.”
Here are some choice responses to our question: “How old were you when you had your first drink, and what was it?”
“Bourbon and coke, rubbed on my gums by my Dad at 2.”
“My 1st drink was a screwdriver that a waitress accidentally served me instead of OJ, I was 5.”
“..so my mom said, “you cant have that, it’s beer.” i said “gimme the beer!” and that was my first full sentence.”
We asked: What’s your drinking style (abstainer or moderator?) Do you have a drinking contract (any drinking rules?):
“My drinking style was punk rock recklessness, a splash of hedonism, & stomach pump on the side. Now it’s CarrieNation chic.”
“I actually go for months without a drop, then I’m Queen Cab, then back to sober months. Like seasons.”
“If you can drink and not think about it at all, you’re not the daughter of an alcoholic or addictive!”
“In past drinking days, personally I would tell peers to monitor my intake. Didn’t work well.”
“My only rule is: Do not drink while also being an alcoholic.”
“I only have like 3 drinks a year. Saw family that had major drinking problem.”
And how can you top this answer to our question: “What do you like best about drinking?”
“Honestly, it makes football slightly interesting.”
Feel free to tweet us your drinking story, either on twitter to @drinkingdiaries, or you can leave it as a comment right here (Remember: 140 characters or less). You’d be surprised how much you can convey in those few words…
UP NEXT: Drinking haikus (you know you want to write one…)
“I’ve toned down my drinking because I’m not depressed like before. Now I only have one glass of wine every now and then.” –Lady Gaga to her fans on the “Born This Way Ball” tour in Amsterdam
The singer—who has said she loves whiskey—said her boyfriend, Taylor Kinney, has made her happier and helped her to cut down her alcohol consumption.
Has being in love ever helped you to change your habits? Were the changes permanent, even after the “honeymoon” wore off?
Surprise, surprise. The most recent Gallup poll says that 66% of Americans drink alcohol. Here, in a nutshell, is all you need to know: Men drink more than women (and apparently, according to the latest studies, drive women to drink when they marry them). Women, it seems, still prefer wine to beer. Whites are more likely to drink than nonwhites. And younger adults drink more than older adults (not surprising if college drinking is factored in).
It’s fun to bat around statistics, but it’s even more fun to hear the juicy details of peoples’ drinking lives. No poll can delve so deep, which is one of the reasons why we started the Drinking Diaries blog–to hear the whys, the whens, the whats…
So in that spirit, in the next few weeks, we’ll be presenting some of the results of our own in-depth “polling”….culled from our essays and our interviews.
In the past three years, we’ve been asking women: How old were you when you had your first drink and what was it?
Here are some of their answers:
“The first time I got drunk was during a New Year’s Eve party my parents threw when I was a kid. I stole three unattended glasses of red wine and secretly gulped them down while sitting underneath the kitchen table. Less than an hour later, my Dad tells me, I passed out in the middle of the living room, snoring…I was 3 years old.” –Maura Kelly, co-author of Much Ado About Loving:What Our Favorite Novels Can Teach You About Date Expectations, Not-So-Great Gatsbys and Love in the Time of Internet Personals
“It was Mad Dog, at a cast party my junior year in high school. I spent most of the party commiserating about not getting cast as Sally Bowles with the guy who didn’t get cast as the MC. Then my ex-boyfriend’s new love interest threw up on me and a six-foot-two guy passed out on top of me. So. Much. FUN.” –Julie Powell, author of Julie & Julia
“I must have been five or six, at Passover. The drink in questions was, of course, that sweet, intoxicating Manischevitz grape wine; I remember it as the most delicious nectar. Drinking it, even my tiny cupful at seder, meant I was a big, accepted, Jewish girl. Great plan for keeping potential strays in the Jewish fold.” –Rebecca Walker, author of Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence
“I was eighteen, a freshman Drama major at Howard University, when I had my first drink. It was a strange mixture of Mogen David grape wine and ginger ale. That was the drink we made ourselves in our dorm room.” –Pearl Cleage, author of Seen It All and Done the Rest
“I was 15, on a beach in northern Mexico. It was my sophomore year of high school, and I was on a Spanish Club camping trip in Puerto Penasco. A group of us kids was on the beach, unsupervised (it was the 1970s), sitting around a bonfire. The tequila bottle passed by me, and with everyone watching, I took a swig.” –Kate Christensen, author of Trouble
“Well, my dad owned a bar and later bartended at his friend’s bar, so I have very early memories of sitting on a barstool when I was two or three, and my dad would give me a shot glass of beer so that I could pretend I was a customer. “ –Gina Frangello, author of Slut Lullabies
“I was 21 and it was beer.” –Julie Klam, author of “Friendkeeping: A Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate, and Can’t Live Without”
“I was about 10 years old. I was at my aunt’s wedding and was seated next to a man who was a Mormon. Apparently Mormons don’t drink alcohol, so whenever his champagne glass was filled, I would offer to drink it for him so he wouldn’t feel self-conscious.” –Ann Leary, author of Outtakes from a Marriage
“I had my first taste of alcohol when I was a very young child–maybe five or six. I snuck a sip of my father’s beer. He liked to put salt on the rim of the can. The taste was so sharp and intense I remember it vividly. It felt like an injury. Like it would leave a scar on my insides.” –Cheryl Strayed, author of the memoir, Wild
And now we’re asking you, dear readers. When did you have your first drink, and what was it? (And maybe some of you have never had a first drink—it’d be fascinating to know how and why you resisted the pull of culture).
Last week, we wrote a post called Six Reasons Why Women Like to Drink. This week, it’s time to explore five compelling reasons why they don’t (like to drink). We’ll leave it to these talented women writers to explain–women we’ve interviewed during our nearly four years of blogging at Drinking Diaries:
“I see alcohol as part of living a full life until something goes horribly wrong in your constitution. My analogy is that bread would be the staff of life (unless you have celiac disease); drinking is a part of life unless you’re an alcoholic.” –Julia Sexton, food writer
“I like the feeling of the first or second drink. I choose not to drink because once I start I don’t know when I am going to stop and the consequences of the 3rd, 4th and 5th are not really that cute or sexy. The repercussions of the 6th, 7th and 8th are downright disastrous!” –Eva Tenuto, creator of the TMI Project
“There was always a certain point in the evening when I’d feel just perfect, like how I imagined humans were built to feel: my boobs grew like three cup sizes, I felt one with my friends and the universe, I could handle anything, I could play. Without a drink, I didn’t know how to have fun. In retrospect, I think that perfect feeling alcohol gave me was presence: a brief flight from time, when I neither dwelled on bitterness of yore nor worried some fear fantasy. Only problem? That peaceful feeling was soon overwhelmed by an invisible beast who seemed to burst out of my ribcage with a mission to consume whatever alcohol I could scrounge up. Didn’t matter who was in the way.” –Kassi Underwood, writer
“I go somewhere else, as if there’s a separate realm removed and apart from the “real” world. An invisible barrier—it’s an adult version of a child’s secret hiding place. That’s if I’m lucky. Then there are the wines that put everything on dim, and on those days, the wine travels to a different place, and I go deeper, further into the darkest corners of my own head, which can be a threatening place made of words that come back to me, my own and others’; turns I made or didn’t take, a gaping emptiness of how did I get here. A chasm of feel-sorry-for-myself-ness.” –Jill Talbot, author of Loaded: Women and Addiction
2. Because it diminishes their social skills or makes them do things they might regret:
“I’m not a great sleeper. But when I drink in the evening, insomnia’s a sure bet.” –Linda Yellin, author of The Last Blind Date
“But for me, drinking just brings out my belligerent, indiscrete, attacking side. And it also makes me incredibly sleepy.” –Gretchen Rubin, author of Happier at Home
“I loved the way it seemed to give me access to a world I would otherwise not be able to inhabit: it made me feel like anything could happen in a given night. The problem, of course, was that anything could happen in a given night.” –Anna David, author of Falling For Me
“The problem with me is that booze turns me into such a freak show, it actually costs me my ability to choose. Well, I guess I do have a choice technically but it’s not “drink or don’t drink” it’s like “live or die.” When I drink, a switch goes off in my brain that is like “keep going at all costs and don’t stop,” and really that train leads to drugs rather than just more drinks, because I prefer drugs to drinking. I’ve tried to control it so many times and I just can’t.” –Lesley Arfin, author of Dear Diary
“But it’s also true that drinking doesn’t solve anything—it’s just masking and numbing whatever pain or fear may be hiding beneath that warm blanket. It’s not a solution, it’s just a balm.” —Laura Barcella, author of Madonna and Me
“The oblivion. The (false) sense of freedom. Falling into the abyss. Putting your cares on infinite hold and watching the night rush toward you and embrace you, folding you into a comfortable void. It’s no way to live—you miss out on a lot and neglect yourself spectacularly when you live in an ocean of alcohol—but I do miss that instant release valve. The problem is: Once I tap into that vast non-consciousness, I don’t want to come out.” Sasha Scoblic, author of Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety
“[Alcohol gives you] that false sense of wellbeing.” –Martha Frankel, author of Hats & Eyeglasses
4. Because of the hangovers.
5. Because they don’t want the empty calories.
And I’ll leave the final words to Susan Henderson, author of Up From the Blue, who captures perfectly the double-edged nature of alcohol: “I have a healthy respect for the power of alcohol. It’s a little bit like the ocean–there’s tremendous beauty and pleasure to be had at the ocean but it can also pull you into its depths or take out a dock in a storm. So I respect its strength. I don’t go to the ocean when I’m weak and I don’t swim out farther than I’m capable of, and I’m kind of the same with alcohol. I don’t drink it if I’m in a self-hating mood and I don’t lower my defenses when I’m not around people I trust. I don’t have any desire to drink to the point where I’m not in control, but I’ll enjoy it with a meal, and I’ll let it take my stoic nature down a notch when I’m with a good friend.”