Here’s a fascinating fact for all of you taking the time to read this little article. (Well, define fascinating).
Thus far everyone following along knows I am a dog obsessed, shoe loving, childless, divorced woman who loves to write. It is additionally apparent I am not averse to the odd drinkie. If I didn’t know me, I’d kinda think I sound like fun. Truth be told, I am rather fun a lot of the time …. but I’m also somewhat more complex than blogland portrays. A dog obsessed, Cosmo swilling, shoe loving divorcee sounds like someone who was smoking the odd Alpine behind the bike sheds at school. Swigging their uncle’s scotch when no-one was looking. Climbing out of bedroom windows to go drink a goon bag with friends when mum and dad had gone to bed.
Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your perspective, nothing could be further from the truth. My liver went unsullied for nigh on three decades.
I was actually a teetotaller for many more years than I have been a bubbles and Cosmopolitan consumer. I may have blurred the lines with designer shoes, champagne and Pomeranians these days – but I am the girl who remembers everyones’ teens and 20’s for them. When others of my generation were going to clubs and ripping the pants off whoever they fancied, I was living a cloistered life. I had very strict parents. I came from a family where pants stayed ON and alcohol was 100% not acceptable. Thus passed all of the 80’s and much of the 90’s. Securely clothed and temperate.
I was led to believe I was allergic to alcohol by my elders for many years. Eventually social pressure won and I had my first swig at 29. TWENTY-NINE. Truth be told I wasn’t enraptured on that particular occasion. Then I had a French champagne at around thirty and the floodgates were partially opened. By about the age of 35 I had a real handle on the joys of a nice beverage, and I’ve been a fan ever since.
What has been fascinating is being the person who recalls everyone else’s youth with total sobriety. I was the girl who held girlfriend’s hair back as they lost their dinner by 10pm. I called cabs, sat people in gutters and picked up their discarded handbags. My party trick is to remember key events for them. I recall one notable occasion where a friend and I were talking to a fellow we came across at a social function. He’d last been spotted about a decade beforehand.
“Why do I know him? There’s something weirdly familiar”.
“Darl, you banged him in 1996”.
NADK Flinders University tell us that Australians aged 18 – 24 years generally drink more standard drinks on a single occasion than any other age group. Those aged 70+ are most likely to drink 2 or less standard drinks. This leaves me in the No Man’s Land of age related drinking. I missed the binge years, but I haven’t got to the pension stage either. I’ve thrown off the shackles of my restricted youth but truth be told, I’ve never gone on a bender. I had the spins once after a Christmas party and had to sleep with one foot on the floor. The next day I staggered into work and realised at coffee break (when squintily visiting the loo) I had put my undies on backwards. It wasn’t pretty and neither was I. I swore off alcohol for a week; and then someone offered me some Moët. There endeth my exciting, drinking stories.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that in 2003 the average age of first use of alcohol was about 14, compared to about 17 and a half in 1965. Which does illustrate the prevalence of drinking young has increased with time. It doesn’t matter what website you consult, or what generation you examine, having your first bevy at 29 makes you an oddity. I used to almost hide it like a dirty secret; which is an interesting social response to being a teetotaller. These days it’s just a part of my story and persona.
I respect whatever take you have on alcohol, as long as you don’t lecture me with it. It’s in the same category as religious views. Non drinker? Have a lemonade. Wine enthusiast? Behold my wine rack. What I have always hated is either being berated by a non drinker (or reformed drinker) for knocking one back; or being relentlessly coerced into drinking more than is my personal limit. Once I think I’m looking down the barrel of a backwards underpants scenario… I’m out. Once was enough.
A glass of bubbles and a Cosmopolitan will forever be my poison. (With the odd white wine and gin infused something or other for variety). Do I wish I’d had a rocking, alcohol soaked youth? Yes and no. I think being a non drinker saved me from various mistakes; but it also precluded me from that certain social ‘freedom’ that comes with having a drink or two. The teenage parties and University Bar mishaps. A certain rite of passage into adulthood. I don’t have any outrageous stories or escapades. As they say, no great story starts with “So we all went out and I ate a salad…..”. or …..”Had a big Saturday night on the Diet Coke”.
However, I am the biographer of various persons who rely on me to jigsaw together the pieces of their Coolibah soaked younger years. Or a few that need me to piece together more recent events. Like the Night of the Killer Cosmos. One day I shall tell the great story of poor Kate and her chuck bucket. But not yet. It remains a thing of whispered legend. On that fateful evening in September 2017, the struggle was real. Poor wee Kate hadn’t fathomed my cocktails can floor an elephant. *see below*
I missed out on the early years, but I’m certainly enjoying the catch up. I figure my twenty-nine was everyone else’s eighteen. My liver is positively youthful with such a late start. These days it’s good friends, good times and good memories with a glass or two. If it ever all goes horribly wrong and I’m found with undies on backwards clutching Kate’s bucket…. we’ll just call it a second adolescence. Bottoms up.
NADK Do younger or older Australians drink more alcohol?
National Institute on Alcohol abuse and Alcoholism