In an unprecedented disclosure of the obvious, the 6/22/13 Wall Street Journal published an article by Gabrielle Glaser titled, Why She Drinks – Beyond the Sipping Point, citing “women’s growing predilection for wine has a darker side.” She discusses how beginnings as a “harmless indulgence” has morphed into women who can’t do without. The big reveal in the article, insert Family Feud theme music here: The Survey says, “the whiter and more educated you are, the more likely you are imbibing in excess.”
No shit, Sherlock.
Just spend a day in my suburban New Jersey neighborhood to see how glaringly true this article is. From the “liquid lunches” with the pretense of discussing PTA fundraisers to the hours spent on bleachers at baseball games where red cups are as much a fixture as strikeouts, the health research in the article supports the wave that “women are drinking more now than at any other time in recent history.”
Glamorized by Sex and the City, Real Housewives of New Jersey and the cultural phenomenon of 15 minutes of fame – women in their thirties (harried new mothers), forties (mid-life crisis), fifties and sixties (not much else to do) are engaging in binge drinking comparable to college-aged females, according to the article.
I did my share of binge drinking in college, happy to have made it out alive. In my twenties, when working in New York City and then newly married, I felt I was playing the role of an adult which including drinking wine. Yuck – I didn’t like the taste. Growing up, my father drank red wine like water. Our cabinets were filled with garish green tumblers fastened from a kit my father bought to convert wine bottles into drinking glasses. Okay, if your hobby is recycling wine bottles into a usable household item, you certainly are drinking A LOT of red wine. I never developed a taste for wine, the only one in my wide circle of friends that didn’t have a glass when escaping our broods desperate for adult time. I was happy with a Carrie Cosmo and knew my limits (most of the time) as it was tiring enough dealing with three kids without a hangover.
Several people close to me have developed severe alcohol addictions over the last ten years. They were functioning alcoholics, working and pretending to be happy with their family and lives when secretly drinking in the basement, on the road or leaving work early to pour that first glass. In some cases, the damage done by their drinking is irreparable. I have seen the dark side. All of the above led me to cut down significantly on my own drinking. Maybe a Cosmo at a restaurant and a beer or two at a neighborhood BBQ over the summer. I stick to diet coke with lime, as it cuts down on the calories, the next day headache and the “chardonnay splotch” appropriately named in Jonathan Franzen’s book “Freedom” mentioned by Glaser in her article.
I am easy going with other’s choices as long as they don’t affect me or my children. But white forty-year old women have become the mean girls on the playground; if you thought peer pressure was bad in high school, it’s nothing compared to a not so real housewife of New Jersey without her own show having to drink alone. This became grossly apparent with my son’s baseball team this past year.
One parent arrived to an early Sunday morning game with Baileys and coffee in her environmentally friendly cup. As a few other parents caught on, mimosas replaced coffee and I was quickly ignored for not partaking. After a long week of work, another parent showed up to the fields with a cooler encouraging the rest to grab a cup and hide their cold Corona. There were lots of toasts but not when the kids got a hit because nobody was watching the game. This continued throughout the season. I was entrenched in writing my first novel and couldn’t afford 2 ½ hours gossiping at games; this prompted trash talk from the other parents. “Oh, nice of you to show up,” they sneered annoyed when I declined a cup. Discreet full bars of alcohol and mixers for various Solo Cup Cocktails made their way to tournaments; it was hot as hell, the kids were cranky from mounting losses yet the parents were having a good time in their vodka-tonic haze. I often wondered who was driving home.
The article mentions suburban women concealing their drinking: sneaking their recyclables into other’s bins or personally dropping their stash off at the dump. In my town, women celebrate and chat about drinking every chance they get. Perhaps these women are lucky enough not to see others affected negatively by alcohol; perhaps they are content with their lives, something sorely missing in my own life. I envy their care-free college mentality but know if I spend my time matching them glass for glass, I won’t accomplish my goals.
Give me Carrie Bradshaw’s exotic world, complete with a Mr. Big love interest, and I guarantee I’d have the biggest alcohol problem in the tri-state area. Instead I’ll nurse my Cosmo and follow it up with a shot of diet coke with lime when I’m out with friends and stick to water at the ball fields. Cheers.