Sunday, May 07, 2006

Growing Up Around Bars

So, today, as I drove to Northfield (read about on baby blog) and I was flipping radio stations I came across "I've Got Friends in Low Places" by Garth Brooks and it took me back to memories of my 9th grade year and hanging out with some friends at Katie's parents bar and the song playing on the jukebox and everyone singing & playing pool.

It was really not a big deal to be hanging out in the bar, not to anyone.

And then I started to think more about growing up around bars. When we were little we used to scour the house for any money we could find (but we didn't have a lot, so finding any loose change was hard to come by) and walk down the road to the 5 Corners Bar (it's a counry bar). Now, we didn't go in there to hangout or anything. We were pretty much in & out -- but they sold penny candy FOR A PENNY. So, if you managed to earn a dollar you could walk out with this bag of 100 pieces of candy. It was excellent. Even finding 15 cents was worth the walk down to the bar.

Now, in rural WI, most bars also doubled as restaurants and on Friday nights YOU WENT OUT FOR FISH. So, seeing people sitting at the bar getting drunk as you ate your fish with your family at a table was not a big deal. It was just part of everything and you never thought twice about it. And if your tables wasn't ready yet, you were bellied up the bar with your parents. Now, of course we were just having pop & so were my parents (I don't think they ever really had a drink in front of us until I was my freshman year in college.)

The other thing is that I have an aunt (now passed away) & uncle (still owns it) who ran a bar. I can't remember how old I was when they bought it, I'm think junior high sometime......but hanging out in their bar - not a big deal.

The interesting thing is I was never tempted to drink. I probably had a sip of beer when I was little and hated it, but what I hated even more was giving family members hugs who reeked of beer. I just did not like the smell on their breath. And in rural NE WI - you drink beer or old fashioneds. That's it. Go there sometime and you'll see....I would say 90% of the beverages served there are cheap domestic beer or old fashioneds - have you ever seen anyone order an old fashioned anywhere else - maybe you don't even know what one is. If you don't - take a trip north of Green Bay and you'll find out. Don't try ordering a Mojito - they will have know clue what you are talking about, or a Cosmopoliton - they maybe be abe to piece together the ingredients with your guidance, but it sure won't be top shelf. Although one good thing of the bars in NE WI is that they will have some top shelf liqour and they rarely have an upcharge for it, if they do it may just be a quarter.

So, back to drinking. I don't think I tried any alcohol until towards the end of my senior year in high school. I know it's not because my friends didn't drink, they just knew I wasn't interested and didn't even ask. How's that for avoiding peer pressure, they didn't even bother trying as they knew what the answer would be. But in my senior year I worked with some college students at a restaurant and they introduced me to Schnapps......I didn't even know such a thing was liqour that when added with kool-aid (which is what they did) tasted just like kool-aid. No smelly beer or yucky brandy.....nice fruity stuff. I didn't really do a lot of drinking those last couple of months, I was still too responsible to have more than 1-2 drinks, and I never drove home (one girl lived in that town with her parents and we stayed there.) But my senior prom was a different story - my high school friends were pretty surprised I wanted to drink with them as we partied the night away. I got pretty drunk for the first time and gave the keys to my car to a friend's 15-year old brother with a learner's permit (actually, I think we had several 15-year old's with learners permits at that party. They could come hang out with us as long as they had nothing to drink and drove us back from the cabin in the country to a house in town that we were crashing at.)

So, the moral of the story here is - only expose your kids to crappy smelling & tasting liqours while at the same time teaching them to be responsible if they do drink (actually, I dont think I was ever told to be responsible if I drink - I was just told NOT TO DRINK and told horror stories of people my parents knew or went to high school with that dies or lost body parts because of drinking.) So, let's revise the moral of the story. Only expose your kids to crappy smelling & tasting liquors and scare the hell out of them with stories of death and dismemberment related to alcohol comsumption.

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