Legacy Writing 365:265

It’s kind of funny what people think it’s okay to ask you. I guess in the New Century of There Is No Privacy, strangers think it’s appropriate to respond to, “I don’t drink” with “Are you an alcoholic?” Geez. The reason I don’t drink is neither for health nor moral reasons. Alcohol just started giving me headaches whenever I drank it. Though for a time, I’d occasionally put something in my coffee on a winter’s eve, it wasn’t really a big sacrifice just to stop drinking. I don’t have a bad history with drinking–I mean, I went away to college, of course I have bar stories–and I’ve seen alcohol abuse destroy or at least temporarily hijack some lives, but it’s something I rarely have a reason to think about.

I didn’t grow up in one of those 1960s TV homes where Mom and Dad had cocktails in the evenings, with shakers and jiggers and strainers and ice buckets and shot glasses. My parents both drank beer, especially after they worked hard in the yard. I’ve heard that when my father was with the guys, he could throw a few back, but I never saw that side of him. I did see my mother get a little buzzed from time to time, but she could do that after one drink, and I suspect most of her buzz was put on so she could be the life of the party. She LOVED that. She had some beautiful crystal decanters–filled with colored water. I think that was a 60s thing, too.

Then there’s wine. Wine connoisseurs should just stop here, because I’m about to recount what will be, for you, tales of the bottom shelf, or as one online sommelier said, “the scariest wines ever.”

I love grapes. Don’t these look all dewy and tasty?

And I remember, from my youth, eating Muscadines right off the vine. I think my parents and some of their friends and maybe my uncle even tried to ferment their own Muscadine wine. That could be one of those stories I’ve invented; I don’t know. But I do remember the first time I tasted wine.

My Uncle Gerald occasionally had a glass of Mogen David. I adored him, and I’d never seen wine before, so I asked if I could taste it. I have no idea what age I was–maybe twelve? He exchanged a glance with my mother, handed me his glass, and I took a sip. Of course, I loved it. It’s a very sweet dessert wine and my palate was geared toward Kool-Aid. From then on, I was always allowed one sip from his glass on the rare occasion that he poured one.


Here’s Uncle Gerald, sans wine but with a cigarette. I actually remember what he smoked: Kent. And I remember their jingle, part of which is: Happiness is the taste of Kent–great taste, fine tobacco–that’s what happiness is. Huh. Maybe they were right to take those ads off the air because of us impressionable children.

The next wine I drank was Lynne’s fault. She got a wine bottle from her cousin that had been autographed by teen idol Mark Lindsay. The wine was Mateus Rosé, and she talked her parents into buying a bottle for us. The taste was vile to this Kool-Aid drinker. Of course, I pretended I loved it. Peer pressure at its finest!

Then it was prom time, Boone’s Farm. etc. etc. Everyone of a certain age (35) has memories of Annie Green Springs and Strawberry Hill.

For a time, my parents bought a wine that was white and very sweet. It’s possible it was Manischewitz Cream White Concord. It was their “we’re having people over” wine.

Then came the 1980s and the onslaught of the blush wines. We’re not holding wine here–I’m sure that’s apple juice!–but Kathy and I were known to have a glass of White Zinfandel after a day at work. Or a day at whatever.

Does this photo look all blurry to you? Probably whoever took it was drinking apple juice, too.

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17 Responses to Legacy Writing 365:265

  1. Jim S. says:

    “Then it was prom time, Boone’s Farm. etc. etc. Everyone of a certain age (35) has memories of Annie Green Springs and Strawberry Hill.”

    Yes, we do.

    • Becky says:

      That stuff is cough syrup! Were we all together on prom night junior year? Because I don’t think we were senior year.

      • Jim S. says:

        No, no. I should have cropped, “Then it was prom time…” My Boone’s Farm memories (fuzzy as they are) have nothing to do with proms (I attended neither) but more to do with the simple use of the products themselves – and the impromptu visit to your home caused by their effects that cost me so many laps around the track.

        • Becky says:

          Oh–I think you’ve mentioned this before. That–and that bird at graduation–I wonder how many things like those I’ve forgotten?

  2. Lisa S says:

    Annie Green Springs! What a blast from the past! I think we did Wild Irish Rose, too. My roommate called it Wild Irish Rotgut. Do people drink everclear anymore?

  3. Robert Edler says:

    I have on occasion partaken in a recreational wine spritzer or two. Other than that wine is limited to a glass of wine with a great dinner. I seldom hit the stuff that comes in jugs or boxes.

    • Becky says:

      For some reason, I just remembered the old Bartles & Jaymes commercials. “Thank you for your support.”

      • Robert Edler says:

        What ever happened to Bartles & James and their wine coolers? Some of the popular flavors were Strawberry Daiquiri, Fuzzy Navel, Exotic Berry, Tropical Mango, Blue Hawaiian, Raspberry Pomegranate and Body Shot Lime! I think I’d draw the line at Body Shot Lime.

  4. Angie D says:

    Ditto on the amazing things people think it’s okay to say…I don’t drink much because I don’t drink much. Period. Okay, on account of my “health issues” drinking a lot would be detrimental to my health, but really? I don’t drink much because I don’t drink much. I had a couple of years back in the 80s after my first divorce where I drank quite a lot, but I outgrew that eventually. I like a beer from time to time.

    Yes, people of a certain age DO remember Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill. ;) And “Mad Dog 20/20″.

    • Becky says:

      It was SO weird! I was standing in a grocery store next to a display of some kind of drinks–sort of looking around to figure out where I wanted to go. This other shopper asked if the drinks had alcohol in them, and I told her that I didn’t know. She then asked me some other alcohol-related question, and I said, “I have no idea. I don’t drink.” Then she asked if I was an alcoholic! Who does that?!?

      I’ve never tasted MD 20/20. Or Ripple!

  5. ablueskyboy says:

    I like how the grapes look like they are catching fire from the reflection in counter top. The grapes look almost painted, which says a lot about those who paint grapes, er, onto paper not onto grapes.

    • Becky says:

      I think people should go ahead and paint the grapes.

      Back in the Dark Ages, there was a commercial on TV featuring The Answer Grape. The Answer Grape was a spokesman either for the wine industry or a particular wine. It’s annoying because youtube has no Answer Grape commercials. Nor can I find an image of the original Answer Grape–just stupid bunches of grapes, one with a head. He didn’t look like the Fruit of the Loom bunch.

      Now I have a quest.

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