This is the short story of how I became a female beer drinker – a thing much maligned by many of the young lay-dees of my acquaintance. The attitude, so frequently held by girls in regards to beer is very much: ew, horrid tasting smelly boy drink, one can’t drink that it’s yucky, it’s just not feminine, ew. I must own that I have limited respect for girly-girls and may sometimes be crueller to them than strictly necessary. Life is not all sweet pink things and, in the great cause of alcohol, there is no room for dismissing something because it does not suit your sense of aesthetics.
Historical note: I come from a family who are well fond of the bottle so long as it contains something alcoholic. We have many high-functioning alcoholics and a genetic predisposition, on both sides, for sturdy livers. This being so, alcohol has always been a part of my family life and, indeed, I have often found that I much prefer my family when a) I am drunk, b) they are drunk, c) we are all drunk together. By family I mean my extended, as well as my immediate, family group.
The first time I got drunk, as documented by my parents in my baby-book, was when I was eighteen months old. I got into the sherry bottle when nobody was looking and, apparently, glugged it down before my ever watchful parents noticed what I was doing. When they finally did notice my ever practical father decided that the best way for me to learn the lesson of alcohol was to just let me be. As ever, he was quite right; I’ve never touched sherry since. I can’t even stand the smell of it.
After that, I had more or less free access to alcohol. I was not encouraged to drink but it was not prohibited and there was always quite a lot of alcohol in the house. I didn’t really take advantage of this when I was a child or a young teenager. My parents’ attitude was so relaxed that it was simply a non-issue. I could if I would but there was no challenge to it so it wasn’t all that appealing. Besides which spirits both smell and taste awful. Later, when I was fifteen or sixteen, my parents continues with their ideal of responsible alcoholism by purchasing grog for my underaged self and friends – for whom the liberty of it was so extreme and frightening that the kindness was rarely used.
When I was still 17-18 and regularly hitting the nightclubs of my small shithole of a town my drink of choice was vodka -cheap, greasy, disgusting vodka – especially that of the establishment (whose name I now cannot recall) that had a charming happy hour of $2 basics. I cannot count the times we took advantage of those $2 basics. It was long enough to get it down to a fine art where we’d have about ten or so drinks (oh for 2 bucks you weren’t expecting full shots, were you?) in an hour. The more people in the group the better this worked. That was all good for a while but, as with all things, times change.
Between the ages of eighteen and twenty-one, I drifted, really drifted. I did nothing (literally) for about two or so years. At eighteen you see, a year and a half into my first attempt at university, I dropped out. For quite a while I did nothing but live off my parents, my friends, and the few grand that I got when my grandmother died. I also attempted, almost, to get crap jobs and spent rather a lot of time at a local sleaze bar. It was at this time, at the Rising Sun – after all, who could know? – that I became a beer drinker.
Why beer, you ask. Well, it wasn’t just any beer. It was the shittiest of shit beers – VB - and it cost all of $2 a pot. This is getting drunk at its finest and at its cheapest. This is the art of drinking merely to get drunk – and listen to really shithouse cover bands and flirt with too old miners and bikies (okay, not so much of that, those are people you don’t fuck with on any level) and low class loser boys. This is alcohol for its own sake and sometimes nothing can taste better than that.
Now you might ask why, when I could probably regularly indulge in more expensive drinkies, is it that I continue to indulge beer. I admit to getting the taste, aside from a childhood shandy or ten, from need and penury but what non beer drinkers don’t understand is that beer is a many splendoured thing. There is, I can quite understand, a beer for every occasion and a large quantity of them are incredibly tasty. Beer is something that can be drunk and not just sipped and is quite a lovely way to while away an hour or three.
We are now midway through a sunny Sunday afternoon in spring and I, for one, am dreaming of my first beer of the day – to be had in just an hour or so – on a day that just seems to have been made for sitting out of doors with schooners and cigarettes.