Growing up in Texas, in very conservative church surroundings followed by attending a very conservative religious college, booze was the last thing I should be caught with. Alcohol was essentially forbidden. It lead to loose skirts, alcoholism, cheating, back alley gambling, rebellion, marrying your dog, all culminating in Satan’s minions prodding you with burning sticks while having your eyes pecked out by zombie chickens when you die (not sure the zombie chickens appear in Revelations, but I bet they’re in a Hieronymous Bosch painting).
By my mid-20’s however, that foundational faith had begun to falter for reasons unrelated to alcohol. By default, my taste buds began to loosen along with previously strong-held inhibitions and fear of skeletal chicken beaks. Timidly I began to find that taking in a drink or two did not lead to Satan standing over my bed and having 12 illegitimate children. Responsible drinking? It wasn’t a lie? Why the hell didn’t someone tell me this sooner?
Not to say some of that stuff can’t happen. Alcoholism is a serious thing and I challenge anyone to say they don’t have someone, somewhere, in their family that was/is an alcoholic. The whole “Enjoy Responsibly” warning we find on bottles and in alcohol advertising is spot-on. So let me jump on the ‘drink responsibly’ bandwagon because I do believe in _not_ drinking to get wasted. It’s a waste on your body, a waste of your money, and if drinking something decent, it’s a complete waste of something meant to be savored, whether that be a good whiskey or a damned fine craft beer.
Now, back to growing up in the pews and on to loving whisky. After my first venture into beer, I felt the need to hide my evolving taste for alcohol from longtime friends and family. After all, I had said drinking was a bad thing based on upbringing and watching people I knew not drinking responsibly. Keeping my friends and weekend experiences very separate, I began to try liquor. And like most women, that meant vodka… and cranberry juice. Ooh, and don’t forget the sophisticated slice of lime on the glass! I was finally classy!
Even after my mid-20’s faith drift, it took a while longer to ‘come out’ of the drinking closet completely. It wasn’t until my late 20’s that I began to shake the guilt of drinking behind the proverbial pew. This was the time period I bought the bottle of Knob Creek that was discussed in the first blog post. I was more open in talking with long-time friends about where I’d been over a weekend and what I’d done. No stones were being thrown, though there were some raised eyebrows.
It was relieving to be ‘me’ and not have to hide that part. To some folks reading this, you may think, “Seriously? What’s the big deal?”. But it was based on how I’d grown up. The fear of judgment and chastisement.
Now I’m in my very early 40’s (Stressing “very early” for vanity sake… no backtalk from you!) and have come to peace with my former faith and my current beliefs. Drinking has become something I enjoy for reasons that go well beyond its mind-relaxing properties. The brewing and distilling of very basic, almost pantry-staple ingredients are fascinating. Simple ingredients made with refined techniques producing the dichotomy of subtle and complex flavors in the same glass; what’s not to like? Distilling is a mix of chemistry and artistry. Imbibing the finished product is a ‘thank you’ nod to the masters of their craft. I finally found that being a fan of beer and spirits is nothing to be ashamed of, as long as it is done with a mature attitude.