Drunk feels (62/100)

I don’t drink. Never have and never will. But as I try and unpack the last two weeks I’ve begun to see something I hadn’t seen before, or refused to see, I come from an alcoholic family. And it’s slowly killing us.

Whenever the German side of my family got together, there were cases of beer purchased and cheers when someone arrived with said cases held high. Most of my memories of this were of Thanksgiving at my grandparent’s house. I remember the day or days before, sitting in the back room with my grandparents and immediate family, watching TV as my uncle Tim and his family would arrive and present grandpa with a case and a hug. Uncle Phil would then arrive with a $15 bottle of whiskey and his family. Uncle Bud showed up last with his family and the raised eyebrow expression that became synonymous with his feelings of “uh huh” as someone would hand him a beer. He would shrug, look at my Aunt Susan and nurse that beer for the next couple hours.

I don’t know why I hadn’t remembered this stuff until having a conversation about how my cousin Chris died.

My parents don’t drink. I guess my dad did when he was in high school and college (pre-mustache Ron) but my mom never did. We talked about how keeping my head clear of intoxicants was important. Impaired judgment and an inability to make sound decisions were sighted.

But the thing that prevented me from ever drinking was their example and seeing the kinds of bullshit people do when they drink to excess on TV, movies and in person. I hadn’t gone to a real “party” where alcohol was central until college and I wasn’t impressed. The smell was horrible, the people behaved idiotically and I couldn’t figure out a reason why anyone would ever want to drink. Of course, that all changed the more I observed.

College friends would talk about what they “hated” and “loved” with such effusion and the lack of filter suggested a real desire to talk about or truly express themselves. They didn’t feel like they were able to be themselves and it wasn’t until they drank that they were able to, as one person put it, “have the courage to tell Lisa to fuck off.”

My family were welcoming. They embraced Lindsay the first time they met her, without question or falter that I saw, and made comments about her being “part of the family.” She talks about how warmly she was accepted by the Prechts whenever she saw them. But now I wonder if that acceptance may have been accelerated by the booze. Would they have been as talkative and warm had they not drank a few? Was it necessary for them to operate?

As I saw my Uncle Phil, swollen with type-2 diabetes and sweeting like the beads on his glass, looking distant I wondered if he knows about his drinking problem. I’m told he does. My dad explained that they’ve had conversations and Phil’s agreed that he needs to slow or stop the drinking, but when mourning, I’m sure he justified, it’s understandable why you’d need a drink.

Most of my family can’t make it out to Chris’s funeral, the snow storm washing over the East Coast, but I wonder how many of them poured a drink in his memory, slammed it and cried after the effects allowed them to feel.