Clancy recently discovered that her youngest cousin has decided not to drink alcohol. We’re not surprised, but we are relieved. We’re not surprised because when she was younger, Clancy made the same decision. We’re relieved because Clancy’s uncle is an alcoholic of the first order enduring the slow way to die.

The night that Clancy and I had met, I’d had a few drinks and she, obviously, hadn’t. I was already sort of in to her when she told me that she didn’t drink. My ex-girlfriend Julie didn’t drink either, and in fact that had caused some problems between us. So I was relieved when Clancy told me that she didn’t have any moral objections to drinking, she just knew that the deck was stacked against her genetically.

It was something that I could instantly relate to.

My mother had a younger sibling that drowned at fourteen. I won’t go in to the details of what all happened after that except to say that Mother no longer really had parents after that so much as she had alcoholic stand-ins.

While attending Carolina State University, she met and married a young engineer. Mom being Mom, she doesn’t blame anyone but herself. She knew the signs, but she didn’t really care. After a year or so, she help maneuver a move far away from home where she could discreitly get a divorce. Not long after that she met my nigh-teetotaling father.

Whether or not my mother became an alcoholic depends on how you define the word. But even when I no longer had a curfew I stopped leaving my room after 10 because I knew that she’d be out there, smoking cigarettes and drinking scotch. Enough scotch that I wanted to avoid her at all costs. At some social occasions where alcohol was served my brothers and I would set up Mom patrol, where we’d basically be around her so that we could step in if she was about to say something offensive.

But then, at the point we’d really start worrying, she’d stop drinking for several months before we’d say anything.

Clancy’s father was a similar borderline case except that while my mother is a gregarious drunk, her father is a mean drunk. Not physically abusive, but mean. Alcohol, combined with depression, almost cost him his marriage at one point.

Though in similar circumstances, Clancy and I seemed to react quite differently. She, like her cousin now, went completely dry. I, on the other hand, took a bit more from Mom’s example. I started stealing her scotch when I hit sixteen, I was illegally buying beer at seventeen.

But even as I was going to drinking parties at seventeen, I was almost insane about always being in control. I would play these games with agility games with myself to prove that I wasn’t affected. I constantly asked my friend if I was slurring. At one point I started a conversation with a police officer just to prove to myself that I was still in control.

Which is kind of funny because part of the reason I drank was to lose control. It was to to take the edge off. I can be pretty uptight and neurotic and the alcohol fixes that. But I never intentionally let myself go. My drinking career climaxed at three different nights that I don’t remember and a one kiss that I’d really like to forget. But those were the exception. The rest of the time I was dutifully asking my friends if I was slurring and walking a straight line with my eyes closed. I wanted to lose control – just not like Mom lost control.

From what Clancy tells me, the medical definition is pretty lax. I’d break the 14-beer-a-week limit using just half the week (Thur-Sat). I even chose one of the apartments I did because it was within walking distance of my favorite bar.

My brothers Ollie and Mitch got their drinking done in college and have simmered down somewhat since. I was dating Julie throughout most of college which limited my intake, but I actually had most of it out of my system before I met Clancy.

And for all of its faults, Deseret has been a really good influence on me. Drinking isn’t a social activity here. The social pressure against it is as strong as the social pressure for it in Delosa is.

Which is good. I don’t think I have any reason to worry about me following in the Hertzog footsteps, but you never really see that sort of thing coming. If anyone had told me at ten I’d be a smoker, I’d have laughed. One of the real upshots of our shared experience is that if Clancy tells me that I’m drinking too much, I know that she knows what she’s talking about. And she knows that I don’t want to go that route.

-{This post was inspired by Barry’s on the subject of addiction. As it’s bad tact to try to steal the spotlight of someone with a dilemma, I decided to hold off on posting on it}-
-{Confronting the Inevitable, A Man’s Gotta Do}-


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4 Responses to Bloodline Alcohol Content

  1. Barry says:

    Thanks, Will. Don’t worry about holding off – all commentary on all sides helps.

  2. Becky says:

    This was a good post, Will, and one that I could relate to quite well. I kind of have the same take as Clancy does, though, ironically, I’m not biologically tied to the people who behave that way. It’s just what I see and not what I want to be. I will sometimes indulge, but we’re talking maybe 4x a year at most, and never when I drive (which is almost always).

  3. trumwill says:

    Barry, I tend to get annoyed with those that are always trying to one-up the conversants. Particularly in a case like this where mine is in the past, for the most part. I hope that everyone has gone as well as can be expected with that issue.

  4. trumwill says:

    Becky,
    My oldest brother is in the same boat as you, biologically. He actually seems to have the healthiest attitude towards alcohol of any of us. Maybe it’s for lack of fear of genetics.

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