Sunday, April 05, 2009


Middlebrow turned me on to this post, and this blog in general, over at the NY Times. It's about drinking, though at least one contributor is a recovering alcoholic. What kills me is the people who leave comments about how the blog is contributing to alcoholism, or about all the negative things that drinking brings into people's lives. Why are they reading a blog about drinking in the first place?
But this particular post took me back to the good ole days in Bellingham, where I once ran into a friend on campus. She was done with school, I was just a post-Bac, taking classes and working, still figuring out what the hell I was doing with my life. We headed down to the 3-B tavern, got a pitcher, slid into a booth and proceeded to kill the rest of the afternoon and probably most of the evening without moving, except to get more pitchers. The great thing about the 'ham, a college town of the best sort, is that, as we sat there, the bar filled with our friends, who would join us for a round and then drift off, only to be replaced by more friends.
Once, I left a greeting on my answering machine that began, "I've become one of those women who drinks alone, who sits at the bar and has just one, while the bar fills..." It was during a phase of my life when I left poems instead of traditional greetings. Once I got a message that just said, "Cool." I don't even know who that was. But once, a guy with the same name as Middlebrow (not an uncommon name), called me and heard that message. I wasn't home, obviously, so he just went down to the 3B and there I was. Of course!
Now that I'm past 40, with a real job and a kid, there are no opportunities for afternoon drinking or, at least, they are significantly different. Now, we have drinks in the front yard while Son rides his bike up and down the sidewalk. Now, we make vodka tonics and drink in the front yard with the neighbors, while the kids entertain themselves. We stop drinking at 9 or 10, or at least move it inside. We drink while we watch TV or movies. While we grade student papers. We try to mute the pain of inferior prose with beer and wine.
But we don't get to go into a dark bar on a perfectly fine afternoon for no other reason than we want to have beer, lots of it, and just talk, hang out, people watch, discuss, interact with each other. Afternoon drinking, long hours dedicated to nothing but beer and conversation, is a thing of the past.
I look back on those afternoons with nostalgia.


Nik said...

One does change ones drinking habits--and I drink less! than I did in grad school. And yet once in awhile, I try one of those afternoons and I just get a big headache. I'm a wuss! Out of training!
But it's such a thing to talk about in the US. If you drink at all after the age of 35, some people just assume it's all over for you...
That's why I'm going to Italy. For the restraint of judgment. Or rather, not drinking at lunch is rude. Then I can feel all sorts of superior if I decline.

Aligates said...

Nostalgia: me too. I was there. I bear witness.

Lisa B. said...

Interesting to me that I have absolutely nothing, not even an analogue, to feel this kind of nostalgia about. That alone is a little bit sad to me--I don't feel sad about not having a drinking history, but no history at all of this kind of era in my life? Yet another thing to add to my ongoing list, "Things I Feel Melancholy About."