Monday, July 24, 2006

Grandmother's Drinking 101

"The world is just so messed up and if I think about it too much I get upset, so I just have a drink and relax."

My grandmother stood in the kitchen slicing up peaches for dessert while my mother, grandfather and I sat in the dining room. I finished the remnants of the wine in my glass, and looked forlornly at the empty bottle sitting on the yellow tablecloth. The smell of coffee percolating filled the house and a cool breeze blew across the garden. It was hard to imagine anything could be wrong with the world, but we'd just discussed Israel, the inaptitude of the Bush family, the dismal state of healthcare, and how none of us has any money.

"I wish I could do that," my Mom lamented, "but I'm not a very good drinker. People tell me I probably should be, though."

"Hon, you just let me teach you how to drink," my grandmother said loudly, popping her head back into the dining room to make eye contact with my mother. "Here's my rules of drinking. Rule number one: Don't drink anything less than 100 proof."

I started to laugh as my grandfather shook his head. I thanked him again for donating the biggest bottle of Southern Comfort in the known world to Kristen's liquor cabinet.

"That's good stuff," my grandmother added from the kitchen. "But they watered it down. Now it's only 80 proof. I can't handle stuff less than 100 proof, because you start feeling waterlogged before you can even calm down enough to enjoy it."

I went into the bathroom, and I heard my Mom complain, again, about the amount of alcohol I drink. I rolled my eyes, and washed my hands. When I came back out of the bathroom, my grandmother was holding forth in the dining room again.

"The way I see it, drinking isn't harmful. I look at my sister, who is on every antidepressant, shoves a mess of pills down her throat every day, and I think that maybe if we all had a drink we'd all relax a little bit and not need all these pills that we can't even afford!"

Sometimes, my sedate and logical mother and brother make me wonder if I am a milkman's baby. Then I hang out with the women on my paternal side, and I realize I make complete sense.

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