Being of the compulsive persuasion, I’ve long realized it’s only by the grace of something “out there” that controls such things, that I don’t drink booze. It is not that I am a crusader against alcohol or anyone who likes to have a nip now and again. It’s simply that I cannot abide the taste of anything alcoholic. Were it not for this weird alignment of my taste buds I’d quite likely be brawling and boozing with the best of them, and probably loving it.

But I can’t. I go to parties and by 9 I’m yawning and thinking about how comfortable our bed is while everyone in the room is just getting their engines cranked. I’m standing or sitting, forcing my eyes to stay open and hoping I’m being on point with my conversation, knowing I’m not. And yet the other guests are often sweetly schmoozing each other when during normal daytime hours most of them barely speak.

Maybe it’s all because of a small incident when I was a child. A nasty alcoholic relative who enjoyed Scotch and Soda was visiting my parents, and so asked for one, “a big one, a triple” as he always did. I was about six and insisted I could make one for him. Considering how I’d watched it being prepared routinely every day of the week starting around noon on by the people who raised me, I was positive I could make the drink for that awful old man. Surprisingly, the adults in the room all agreed it would be great sport, so off I went to the kitchen where I poured a huge tumbler half full of Cutty Sark whiskey and tossed in three ice cubes. Knowing soda was no-color clear, I filled up the other half, but it wasn’t with soda. It was with gin that I thought was soda because it was colorless.

I proudly marched this beautiful 200-proof beverage into the living room, barely spilling a bit of it, and handed it to Uncle Grody. He took one sip, kind of gasped a little, clutched at his neck and inquired about the ingredients. I explained about the concoction to him and the group of already fairly inebriated adults, heard a lot of derisive laughter, and was then most politely asked if I’d like a sip. Flattered, I said sure, took one, gagged viciously and then stared in disbelief as Uncle Blotto coughed a couple of times and drank down the entire potion in one long gulp. Not surprisingly, he actually out-did even his routinely disgusting, drooling, stupid, slurring and scuzzy behavior for the next 6 hours.

The problem for me is that booze smells so good, at least pre regurgitation. Yet when I finally take a sip of that fabulous smelling Martini or that great smelling glass of beer, I’m instantly aware that they taste an awful lot like crank case oil, and yes, I did, once when I was very young. Brutal stuff. Avoid it.

So you see how fortunate it is now that I am repulsed by the taste of all booze of all kinds. However, in my dotage I’ve begun to sort of like the taste of a wine so cheap and awful I won’t mention the name for fear of being sued by what appears to be a very successful wine business. It’s sort of a lethal combination of Kool-Aid, fizz tablets, maybe a quarter cup of alcohol and the rest water, all filling a gallon jug, to the tune of around $9. Red or white, doesn’t matter. Because I drink a glass of that stuff on rare occasions, I am mocked most cruelly by my so-called friends who seem to effortlessly knock back a huge variety of any manner of spirits for any occasion whatsoever, 24/7. Rude folk, they call my special wine “plonk,” which, when I researched the word, I found it means “a very inferior and cheap wine” that no one would ever want to drink, or even clean something with, like a toilet. The Brits made up the word, they say.

Now when “Mongo” and I are invited to dinner at friends’ homes, I am sneeringly requested to “please, bring your own gross plonk. We would not want anyone to think we bought it for the dinner party.” Some friends, right?

So there you have it. Oh yes, I have my addictions and milk chocolate is one but at least if I OD on that and then drive home, I don’t get stopped by a concerned officer of the law and forced to take a breathalyzer.

LC Van Savage is a Brunswick writer. 

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