One more reason to love the Irish

Irish Sport Horses are incredible. I’ve always admired them, and my acquaintance has a big one named Dublin. Dublin LOVES to event, and so does Andi.

But that’s not why I write today.

Let me backfill a bit.

I’ve been drunk once in my life. I was 25 years old, it was a ferociously hot 4th of July, and I was at a party where the alcohol was ice cold and running freely.

I should say that until that day, I’d never had anything alcoholic. I grew up in a household where alcohol was almost literally for medicinal purposes only. My mother would take a gin and tonic now and then, and I think I saw my father drink a beer, once. Thus I was not exposed to alcohol, nor did I learn to drink it.

This wasn’t due to religious beliefs. It was just..my folks didn’t drink.

The party was a good one, with dancing and laughter, and I was thirsty. Someone pulled a bottle of “Sangria” out of the ice filled trash can. It was opened, a glass of it was shoved in my hand, and I took a sip…and thought, oooooooooh, that’s nice.

I think I liked it more because it was cold. I was probably dehydrated, and hadn’t had anything to eat. The first glass went down quickly. The second one a little slower. I don’t remember if I had more than two. Because I got ‘drunk’ on just one or two glasses.

I didn’t realize I was drunk. But the man I was seeing at the time, and was madly in love with, said something, and I lipped off to him.

I remember the hurt look in his eyes, but (later, I know) he had been drinking for longer than I had, and probably knew it was the booze talking, not me.

The next morning I woke up with a throbbing head and a stomach that warned me that if I put anything in it, it was going to reject it.

Then I remembered what I’d said to my man. It’d been rude and somewhat cruel, definitely not something I’d say to someone I thought I was in love with.

I suffered for two days, not from the hangover, but from heartache, before I could meet with him and apologize. How could I have allowed myself to say something mean like that? He said, eh, it’s nothing, maybe you shouldn’t drink.

Maybe? No, definitely, he was right.

Our relationship never went any further than that and we parted ways (amicably, although I held a torch for him for years). But the other part…’maybe I shouldn’t drink’ I took to heart. I didn’t drink ANYTHING more powerful than water or milk, for years.

Fast forward 25 years. I began dating my current husband.

He brought a bottle of wine to dinner one night, and more out of politeness than desire, I had a small glass. That was when I learned how much a good wine adds to a good meal.  I thought, ooh, that’s nice. It went very nicely with dinner. Now I’m older, and wiser, and not so apt to over do it.

Now (except in the hottest weather), I have a glass of wine with dinner. That’s still the extent of my ‘drinking’.

I should explain to the Europeans who read this something about American culture.

We have some very restrictive laws in America regarding alcohol consumption. A person is not allowed to drink anything alcoholic until the age of 21.

This is crazy.

It’s not that I think kids should be drinking alcohol. Not at all.

A kid can’t be expected to manage his drinking if the way he learns is with kids like him, where it becomes a competition of how many beers can you drink and still walk.

We don’t let them drive cars until they’re 16, we don’t let them vote until they’re 18, they can’t join the military until 17 (18 for females), all because they’re not considered mature enough to be able to handle the responsibilities.

But in this country, a kid of 20 and 364 days old is considered too young to be able to drink responsibly. Apparently, in his sleep, the Booze Fairy taps him on the lips with a beer bottle, because,  on his birthday the next day, voil ‘a, he is legally-if not intellectually-considered mature enough to drink.

I lived in Germany for 7 years. In restaurants and gasthaus (a gasthaus is a combination of a hotel and a pub), I saw little kids being given a ‘kinder teller”…child’s glass of beer. It was small. It may, possibly have been watered down (although I bet that’s illegal in Germany). The point, though, was that kids in Europe were taught how to drink alcohol. They did it under the eyes of parents. They drank in social situations: at a gasthaus, or at a fest, where I’m betting, plenty of adults were around to make sure the child/teen didn’t over do it. They didn’t binge drink, like so many American teenagers/young 20’s do, as a feat, rather than a consumption of something.

American kids…and most American kids drink, even underage ones..drink to excess solely to get drunk. To show off to their friends and peers. To be accepted as a member of a group. And always, always, out of the view, and without adult supervision.

Too many times, they also get into a car and drive.

Alcohol+gasoline=catastrophe.

Growing up in a teetotaler household was a blessing. I didn’t have to deal with alcoholic parents. I’ve met some folks so hopelessly addicted to booze that they’ve destroyed their lives, and those of the ones who surround them. I had soldiers of 22 years old who were already hopelessly alcoholic. I’ve known people to literally destroy everything in their lives: marriage, family, finances, etc, to drink.

It’s one hell of a shock when you meet up with a woman who you were worked with and became friends with, ten, fifteen years ago, and now she looks like a dishrag, living in the shelters until they kick her out for drinking. You remember the bright, vivacious woman with whom you laughed until your sides ached, and now she’s looking 30 years older than she is, begging for a handout and can I crash at your place ‘for a couple days until I get back on my feet”?

You have to say no. Because the reason she’s on the down side of life is in that paper bag by her side, the one holding the liquor bottle. And the only feet she’s going to gain is the one on the bottom of the bottle.

Throughout life, I’ve always wondered what it is about alcoholic drinks that makes it so addictive (I mean that literally) to some and not to others, like me. I can take it or leave it. .

When I see a 21 year old ‘kid’ who boasts about his ability to drink a case of beer (that’s 12 beers) and ‘still walk”, and I want to ask him, do you really think that’s ‘great”? That it’s something, an accomplishment? Something to put on a resume?

And when, later, I meet someone who’s bankrupt and divorced because he can’t control himself with alcohol, or meet the ruined person whose car was run into by a drunk driver,  or see the wreckage of a car after four teenagers who were drunk (illegally) ran it into an overpass at 90 mph, I think, this is effing stupid. They were effing stupid. Prohibition didn’t work in this country, but one wishes there were something that could keep booze out of the hands of people until they’re…well, over 55, the age I was when I began drinking wine.

So I’ve never ‘gotten it’.

But today, I got it.

We’ve been busting our tails since June, pulling tansy ragwort on the wildlife refuge behind our house. It’s just Dennis and me doing it. It’s a 1000 acre (~400 hectares). It’s not hard work, but it is a lot ( a LOT) of walking in rough terrain, carrying tools and humping heavy, weed filled trashbags out.  And it’s hot. Our weather has been very hot and dry (at this time, over 300,000 (120,000?hectares) acres are on fire in my state) with temps in the high 80’s/low 90’s (~30 C)

But you have to pull now, because you don’t want the tansy to go to seed, and it’s in bloom right now. You can’t find it when it’s not blooming.

So, we pull. So far, we’ve pulled enough tansy to fill 30 thirty-five gallon capacity trash bags. And we still have half the preserve to check.

( I have no idea what that is in weight. For that matter, I don’t know why garbage bags are rated in gallons.)

Today we got in the house,  and immediately drank a goodly portion of cold Gatorade.

Only when you’re dehydrated and have been working hard, sweating your butt off, does Gatorade taste good. Otherwise it tastes like water you’ve washed your sweaty socks in.

After changing out of the tansy clothes, I reached in the fridge for more Gatorade. That’s when I noticed a dark brown booze bottle. Hmmm, what’s this?

“This” was a bottle of Carolan’s Irish Creme, imported from Ireland.

“Where did this come from?” I asked Dennis. He couldn’t remember. I never bought it, obviously he did, but when? We couldn’t remember.

Maybe he bought it for Christmas. I don’t know.

(It also speaks to my dislike of cleaning the fridge. I don’t have things growing in there, but it HAS been a while since I cleaned it.)

I opened the bottle of Irish Creme and sniffed. It smelled enticing. Took out a glass, and poured a LITTLE…oh my goodness.

That stuff is terrific.

It was an epiphany, the likes of which I’ve experienced only a few times in my life. Times like-the first time I had truffles.  Or properly aged and cooked venison (with white asparagus). Or escargot. Or razor clams.

I wanted more. A lot more. But, being old enough now to know when to say when, I stopped at half a glass. Despite having a glass of wine with dinner, I know I’m still pretty much a lightweight in the drinking department.

And yes, it went right to my head, but that’s okay. I wasn’t drunk, not even close. But I do, now, understand a little of  why some folks run riot with alcohol.

I understand, now, why folks have stuff like this as an apertif.

I’ll have some more, later, but always in moderation. That’s something I’ve learned over the years, how to rein myself in when need be. Had I been introduced to it when I was 25, I’d probably be in a very different (and unhappy) situation right now. I say that because, when it comes to things like dark chocolate, I have absolutely no self control. I can only imagine what I’d be like had I become alcoholic.

So, to my Irish readers, I say “”Oooh, that is some good stuff” You’ve gained a fan. Now I can appreciate more than just Irish horses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About subodai213

Retired U.N.C.L.E agent. Living in Laurasia.
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3 Responses to One more reason to love the Irish

  1. Mm, I think there’s more than a tot of Irish whiskey in Bailey’s and Carolan the rest must be cream and a lot of sugary calories! Definitely not your everyday snifter.
    The French kids learn gourmet eating rather than the cooking from these special days – though the general standard of school meals is excellent, with menus published for parents to see – but perhaps the idea is that they get a taste for finer food, appreciate how well it’s been prepared and then are inspired to cook.
    Vive la France!

  2. There’s a very similar drink called “Bailey’s”; I remember it having very soothing properties when we had some in the cupboard one Chrismas and I had a horrible cold and sore throat. Very seductive!
    As you experienced in Germany, French children are given watered wine and learn, generally, to drink (wine) at mealtimes, as well as top local chefs going into primary/junior schools to give children an experience of “gourmet” cooking … There is more of a problem with young people getting drunk (out here in the sticks) that there used to be, but nothing like the drinking culture in the UK, or at least it’s not very visible.

    • subodai213 says:

      I have heard of Bailey’s Irish Creme.
      What I’m not sure of is…what IS it?? Is it whiskey??
      Last winter I came down with some bug, odd for me considering how much time I spend outdoors. Anyway, Dennis made a ‘hot toddy’ for me. It consisted of brandy, hot water, and honey. Holy cow, just what the doctor ordered. It fixed me right up. I still had the bug but it stopped interfering with my life. I can honestly see how alcohol could have been considered ‘medicinal’.

      Wow, what it must be like to be in school and being taught gourmet cooking. That would never happen here in the US.

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