A girl I went to high school with joked once that she wanted me to call her when I got drunk for the first time. It was a joke because the thought of me ever being drunk was just that outrageous (I was kind of a goody-two-shoes I guess). It wasn’t that I never had the opportunity to drink or get drunk; it’s just that it has never been something that sounded appealing to me.
This past Sunday was my 21st birthday, and like a lot of people on their 21st, I went out to get a drink at midnight with some of my siblings and friends—just because I could.
Arriving at a local bar, I got IDed, and I’m not gonna lie, I felt pretty cool being admitted. It was like being initiated into some sort of exclusive club—if only what awaited me on the inside of the doors lived up to the hype…
There is a certain fascination with alcohol that a lot of people around my age seem to have. My age group seems almost to live for it sometimes, especially in college. We can’t wait for the weekends to go out and party (in fact, a lot of people don’t wait for the weekends, and getting drunk is something that happens on any given week night as well). I’ve always thought this was stupid and frankly just childish. Because of this and because of the fact that I didn’t drink before I turned 21, a lot of people think I am against drinking alcohol, which isn’t the case at all. I just reject the dominant culture of my age group that says that you absolutely need alcohol in order to have a good time.
Growing up, my parents never really had alcohol around the house. My mom doesn’t much like the taste of it; and when my three older brothers were young, my dad made a deal with them that he wouldn’t drink until they all were legally old enough to drink alcohol. As a result, I’ve never associated alcohol with some false sense of maturity or “coolness”. In fact, it became kind of a turn-off to me when people would use alcohol as a way to fit in or feel more confident in themselves. And when you’re underage, I can’t honestly think of any other reason to start drinking if not to fit in or feel cool.
Alcoholism runs in my family, which is another reason why my parents took the alcohol issue so seriously when us kids were growing up. My mom always said that, as a parent, you might think you’re doing right by your kids by allowing them to drink in the “controlled environment” of the home, but you never know which of your children could end up having a problem with alcohol through no fault of their own. Adolescence is hard enough without introducing an alcohol problem into the mix.
Back to my 21st … I didn’t have the typical drunken birthday that I think everyone expects a 21 year old to have. The drink the bartender mixed for me at midnight was nasty. I could only handle a few sips before I decided it just wasn’t worth the effort. The next day I went out for lunch at a winery with my family and some friends and did enjoy a glass of wine. All in all though, the best part of turning 21 for me was the best part of any birthday—getting to spend it with family and close friends that care about me.