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29 More Years To Go…

Sometimes I wonder if I’m meant to live in a world with other people or if my true wish is to be on a small island with only a handful of others.  My husband and I moved into a house in order to get away from cramped apartment living.  We were tired of sharing a wall, tired of people blocking our driveway, tired of kids playing right outside our back door in the shared yard, and just tired of not having a space to call our own.  Last October, we said goodbye to our townhome and hello to our house.

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I should have expected to still run into issues, and I don’t know why I thought that all problems would vanish once the ink was dry and we had keys in hand.  We have a house full of dudes on one side of us; they have at least five vehicles, possibly six, and initially tried to make the front of OUR home their permanent parking space.  The house, at max, is a three bedroom unit.  Three bedrooms, five dudes, possibly one younger female, a few older females who come and go, and occasionally a kid or two.  One resident wears nothing but a tank top and sandals, and just about all of them act like it’s a frat house.  At least the keg is finally off the front porch.

Across the street, the frat house’s friends installed a urinal in their garage to accommodate their guests during parties.  A garage urinal, conveniently located next to the full size garage fridge and underneath the wall mounted garage flat screen.  Oddly enough, since the garage urinal was installed, they haven’t had a single drunken party.  The last was the Mayweather fight where the guests left tire marks all over our driveway as they hurried to turn their cars around and speed off home.

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On the other side of our home is a family with four kids, one of which belongs to the couple and three that belong to the wife/girlfriend only.  I had high hopes for them because the guy was really friendly towards my husband and the oldest son was friendly towards our kid.  Didn’t last long.  They had a party where they not only blocked off the street with flashing lights (because… they own the street?), but had drunk idiots sitting in our yard and leaving cigarette butts everywhere.  They not only lose track of their puppy in our yard, but lose their baby in it as well.  Their baby.  They have thrown balls into our house multiple times, the parents only directing them to stop AFTER we stick our heads outside.

The middle boy is the worst kind of kid and will stand in the middle of our backyard while playing catch.  After upsetting my dog (who I value more than anyone in my neighborhood), I told the middle kid “I need you to please get out of my yard, you’re making my dog upset.”  Nicer than I wanted to be since the adults were outside having a garage sale, but he moved after glaring at me a bit.  After this happens, the delusional mom approaches me and the first thing out of her mouth is “did we do something to offend you?”  Seriously, lady?  Your kid is standing in the middle of my yard playing catch.  Not on the edge, not popping in to retrieve a ball, but just standing there.  My dog is upset by this because it’s his yard.  I tell him to move, very nicely I might add, and this is your response?  It took all my self-control not to go off on this woman, who thinks her family and children are so charming, that others should feel honored to be in their presence.  Every time their dog gets loose while she plays on her phone, I wish terrible things on her.

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No one puts their dog on a leash, and we had three dogs run up on our (leashed) dog and scare him pretty good, so now he hates the site of any of those dogs.  Not that the owners care.  I hate to have to worry about my dog biting another dog while trying to defend me, then having animal control tell me that my dog is dangerous, all because some twat decided their precious pooch was too good for a leash.  I don’t want to see a dog get hit by a car due to careless owners.  Unfortunately for me, everyone else who feels the same way I do lives on another street.  My street is asshole heaven.

Maybe I’m being too picky, but we are investing serious cash into this house and really aren’t asking for much.  Don’t make the curb in front of our home into your permanent parking space.  Don’t tell your kids it’s okay to play in our yard.  Put your dog on a leash.  Don’t throw shit at our house.  Don’t leave trash in our yard.  Keep your drunk asshole friends off our property.  Don’t play cornhole on the sidewalk right in front of my house when you have room to do it elsewhere and stay out of my yard.  Understand that there are shared spaces around us that need to be respected, AND that private property should be respected even more.  If everyone quit acting like they were the only people in the entire world, got out of their bubble for a minute and thought of how their actions affect others, life would be much happier for us all.

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Rape

Last week, my husband and I stumbled upon a segment on the radio that hit a nerve.  The two hosts were discussing a woman who I’ll call Stacy, as they did not reveal her name.  The hosts were contacted by Stacy’s friend, Candy, who was seeking advice about a possible legal issue.  According to Candy, Stacy and her boyfriend went to a bar one night where the boyfriend was “feeding her Long Islands.”  Stacy became incredibly intoxicated and the next thing she knows, she is waking up naked in her boyfriend’s apartment with absolutely no recollection of how she arrived there.

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Candy went on to say that Stacy then asked her boyfriend what had happened.  He was not only unconcerned, he raved about how wonderful and amazing the night had been.  Stacy was horrified that she could not recall any details of this amazing sex she apparently had, which is why she confided in Candy.  Let me also add that Candy did confirm that Stacy and her boyfriend had in fact been intimate before; they appeared to be living together and this was hardly the first time that the two had engaged in intercourse or any other type of sexual activity.  Candy decided that Stacy needed to report this night to the police because it was clear that she was raped.

Now please tell me, am I clueless, insensitive, or simply stupid?  Because I cannot look at this situation and see it as rape, not even a little bit.  First of all, no one “feeds” you drink after drink; you choose to drink and choose to get drunk.  You can’t sneak drinks into people.  It would be different if Stacy was drugged in some fashion, but she wasn’t.  She chose to get drunk with a man she seemed to trust.  Second, a blurry night with your significant other is something that has happened to a lot of us.  I get drunk with my husband.  I’ve never lost an entire evening, but I have experienced tidbits of memory failure here and there where I won’t recall how we got from one point to the next.  If you drink and drink heavily for an evening, it is bound to happen.  If it happens frequently, you should not be drinking.

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Stacy couldn’t remember stopping for snacks at Taco Bell, couldn’t recall how she got home, and couldn’t remember the great sex she had with her boyfriend.  This does not equal a rape.  Candy was convinced that Stacy was in fact blacked out and her boyfriend forced himself on her.  If so, then I would agree that it was rape since she was unable to consent whatsoever and was obviously unaware of the activities.  But if Stacy was simply blitzed and having a blast with her equally drunk boyfriend, then this was just two people who had an intimate relationship and decided to drink way too much and end the night with sex.  That IS NOT RAPE.

Candy eventually admitted that she had been raped in the past, something she is obviously still traumatized from.  Perhaps she looked at Stacy’s situation, saw her own experience in it, and now desires her friend to seek out the justice that she never received.  Candy didn’t go to the police, but Stacy still can.  But is it even justified?  Maybe the boyfriend is a real dirtbag and maybe he did try to persuade Stacy to drink too much so she’d loosen up and be more fun in the bedroom.  But maybe not.  There is nothing here that suggests rape and it is an insult to women who do get raped to throw around the word like it’s nothing.

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I’m not going to throw a personal rape story in here for you now because it’s simply none of your business.  I will say that rape comes in many forms and sometimes, you have to leave it up to the victim when it comes to reporting the crime or staying silent.  Imagine what the police would do with Stacy.  There is no proof.  No trauma.  No bruising or cuts or evidence of violence.  No drugs.  Nothing illegal outside of driving while intoxicated.  What can they do with her, other than hit her with a barrage of questions, prod away at her life, and possibly traumatize her for real with the circus that is reporting a sex crime?  If she woke up with a black eye and torn clothing, it’d be one thing, but that was not the case here.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that rapes should be reported as quickly as possible both so the victim can be cared for and so the perpetrator can be arrested.  No one on this Earth should get away with violating another person in such a manner.  But it’s a dangerous thing to do what Candy has done and automatically assume rape in situations where it does not exist.  It’s dangerous to assume that every female who claims they can’t remember the night before has been raped.  It’s unfair to automatically make men into evil sex-crazed monsters when they’re honestly not doing anything wrong.

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Rape should be taken seriously, of course.  Part of taking it seriously means not seeing rape where it doesn’t exist.  You can’t claim rape because you regret a decision to sleep with another and want to feel guilt-free about it, and you can’t assume your friends have been raped simply because their situation vaguely reminds you of your own.  Rape is a heavy word and the accusation hits hard.  I cannot begin to imagine how terrible it would be if I was accused of such a crime when all I did was have sex with the person I loved (or lusted).

We also need to be responsible ourselves.  When rape happens, it is not the fault of the victim; there is no “she was asking for it” BS that the assailant gets to claim.  That said, we have a responsibility to ourselves to take steps to keep ourselves safe.  Maybe that means not drinking to excess.  Maybe it means having a wingman/woman around you to ensure you make it home safely and alone.  Maybe it means avoiding certain areas or people.  Just because rape isn’t the fault of the victim doesn’t mean that we have to act like victims.  If Stacy had just quit drinking after two or three Long Islands, she would have remembered the trip to Taco Bell, the drive home, and the maybe not-so-hot sex in the bedroom.  Or on the flipside, she would have remembered her boyfriend being far too pushy, holding her down, and ignoring her pleas.  Either way, the question of Was It or Wasn’t It wouldn’t exist, and she wouldn’t currently be struggling to find the truth.

Tattletale

Twyla DeVito, an Ohio bartender at the American Legion, was fired after she contacted police about a bar regular, Mike Ramey, who was leaving the establishment in his car.  Her concern over having a drunk driver put himself and others at risk resulted in the patron to be arrested after blowing a 0.167 on a breathalyzer, which is slightly over twice the legal limit of 0.08.  DeVito’s actions were rewarded two days later when her boss, Mic Hubbard, fired her for being “bad for business.”  He stated that “if every patron who comes in here has to worry about the cops waiting for them when they leave, the place would be empty.”  DeVito also received a letter from the bar stating that she is banned from the establishment for life.

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While Hubbard admits that his ex-employee did the right thing from a moral standpoint, he seems to be unapologetic about firing her and does not seem willing to reconsider his position.  This leaves the mother of eight unemployed and with no plans to fight for her job back or to find another job slinging liquor and beer.  Since some of her children (ranging in age from 13 to 32) are out of the home and fending for themselves, and since her husband has a steady job, DeVito does expect to be fine financially.  That said, she is understandably miffed about the dismissal.

While DeVito did assist police by alerting them to the drunk driver, she is hardly to blame for the man’s arrest and for any damage to the bar itself.  Ramey willingly drank until intoxicated, did not arrange for a ride home prior to the drinking, and took it upon himself to get into the car and break the law.  He was rightfully punished with 72 hours in jail, a license suspension, and fines after pleading no contest to the charge of driving under the influence.  DeVito did not call the police out of malice or with intent to cause harm, she simply gave them a heads up and allowed them easier access to a driver who was clearly drunk.

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The American Legion, like other establishments serving alcohol, can be held liable if they serve a customer too much alcohol or serve alcohol to a customer who came in already intoxicated.  When I bartended, it was drilled into my head that alcohol was great for upping sales and tips, but we absolutely had to notify a manager if anyone began to show signs of extreme intoxication or if we thought they were drinking too fast without breaks for water and/or food.  There was a time while I was working at Applebee’s where we had to call the police instead of stand by and allow a couple to get behind the wheel while visibly drunk and with children in tow (they had come in already three sheets to the wind).  Outside of that incident, there were a handful of times we had to take keys, call cabs, push food and water, encourage patrons to ride with a friend, or cut off their drink service entirely.

Perhaps because Ramey was a regular at the establishment, combined with the fact that it’s never fun cutting someone off, DeVito didn’t feel comfortable denying him additional spirits.  Perhaps she was busy and didn’t realize he was past his limits until he was preparing to leave.  Perhaps he habitually sobers up before leaving and decided to break from habit that one day.  Whatever the case was, DeVito attempted to fix what could have potentially been a tragic and terrible situation.  She’s not a hero, she’s just someone who saw something wrong and did something about it.  Unless this is a situation where she was exacting her revenge against Ramey for some unknown reason, I find little to no fault in her actions.

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Unfortunately for the American Legion, they have now securely established themselves as the place to go if you want to get wasted without consequence.  While many bars and other liquor-serving establishments do turn a blind eye to intoxicated patrons, they’re not currently being showcased in the media with their owner or manager stating that business comes before safety.  By not only firing the bartender who notified police, but banning her for life, American Legion has needlessly cast a very negative light upon themselves.  I understand good business practices, but if anything should have been done to punish DeVito, she should have simply been reprimanded and forced to review the American Legion’s policies and procedures.  The establishment should also look into finding a taxi service that will care for their tipsy patrons or find some sort of other solution that would avoid anyone breaking the law or being afraid to drink at their bar.

What makes these types of situations so complex are all the very blurry lines that can be crossed and the difficulty in knowing when they have been crossed and by whom.  If a man drinks twice as much as he should, is he responsible for doing so or is the bartender/server who sold him those drinks?  If the man crashes his car and kills someone, is that his fault for getting behind the wheel, the fault of the business who assisted him in getting drunk, or the people who didn’t try to stop him from getting in his car?  While I do feel that we are responsible for ourselves and for our own actions, there is a very real responsibility on the liquor-serving establishment to ensure they are not putting people in danger.  I personally would not want to live with the knowledge that I let someone walk out the door, knowing they couldn’t drive, and my inaction resulted in a death.

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If the law states that the establishment can be held liable for overserving a patron who then engages in unsafe and dangerous behavior, the staff has a responsibility to ensure that anyone over the legal limit does not end up behind the wheel of a car.  While they may not always be able to stop it, they must make the effort.  Absent of any laws or regulations, there is still a responsibility of the person serving the alcohol to at the very least inform the person in charge of any patron that may have been overserved.  Ultimately, it should be the responsibility of the individual consuming the alcohol, but sometimes it has to be a group effort if we are to keep everyone safe.

Where do you stand?  Do you agree with DeVito’s termination and banishment from the establishment or do you think there was a better way to handle it?  What person or people are responsible when it comes to ensuring that no person over the legal limit gets behind the wheel of any vehicle?  Are you brave enough to share your own DUI tale, either personal or one from someone you know?  Anyone want to grab a beer?

The Cleanest Drunks Around

I went on a slight Twitter rampage a couple of days ago regarding an article I read about teenagers drinking hand sanitizer in order to get drunk.   Six California teenagers ended up in the emergency room after drinking enough to give them alcohol poisoning.  The article stated that liquid sanitizer is 62% ethyl alcohol which makes it a 120 proof liquid, a higher alcohol concentration than most of the vodkas and whiskeys we adults get to enjoy.  The article advises that all parents monitor their sanitizer and treat it as they would an actual liquor or medication, or buy foam sanitizer as it is difficult to extract the alcohol from the foam.

Before sanitizer there was mouthwash, vanilla extract as my alcoholic roommate chugged one night, cough syrups, various over the counter medications in high doses, and who knows what else.  I get that the article is attempting to warn parents about a new danger so they can take preventative measures and keep their children safe.  Unfortunately, the fact remains that drinking sanitizer isn’t the new way of kids getting drunk/high, it’s just the LATEST way they are doing it.  Teenagers might be dumb overall, but they can be damn smart when it comes to getting around obstacles to get what they want.

The solution here is not as the article suggests; parents shouldn’t be monitoring their child’s sanitizer use and switching to foam, keeping their small bottles of Purell behind a locked door.  The solution is education and supervision, instilling a bit of fear in your child, and being an involved parent.  By education and fear, I mean letting your child know the dangers of ingesting things not meant to be ingested and letting them know the dangers of alcoholism and of alcohol on the adolescent body.  And sure, you can put some fear in your child of what will happen if you catch them downing a bottle of Germ X.  You have to make sure your child isn’t ignorant to the effects these things can have and the fact that the behavior is idiotic to begin with.  You have to cram that down their throat in a way they will understand, which obviously varies from child to child.

I was a creative teenager when it came to getting into trouble and doing what I wanted to do.  I did some dumb things and a big reason why those things took place was because I was told nothing more than “____ is wrong, don’t do it” by my parents.  There was never a why, never a consequence other than the possibility of being grounded for a week, so there was never a real worry.  If I was told cigarettes would become insanely addictive and expensive rather than being told “DON’T SMOKE,” I may not have eagerly jumped into smoking in high school because it would have given me something to think about.  The key is to give the teenager a consequence of the bad behavior that will happen regardless of whether or not they get caught by their parents.

As a teenager, I thought the consequences to drinking were 1.  My parents will be pissed and 2.  I’ll get grounded/lose the car.  There was the slight possibility of drinking too much, but other than that I was consequence free unless I slipped and got caught.  That should not be the way teenagers think about things!  You have to go beyond D.A.R.E and the little scare tactics they use and truly educate your child.  I met a woman who was hit by a drunk driver and suffered brain damage that caused her memory to reset once every few hours, taking her back to her accident (think Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates).  First hand exposure like that sticks in your mind better than a boring video from the 1990s that gets shown in driver’s education classes.  Kids are getting creative so parents need to be creative as well.

I don’t have a teenager yet, but I used to be one and I know what stuck in my head and what sailed right over it.  I didn’t see a problem with illegal substances or being around them; I could be in the same room with someone doing lines of cocaine and it was fine since I wasn’t partaking.  Not until I first saw my friend’s 3 year old eat a tab of ecstasy and be hospitalized, then saw someone die after being dosed in the eye with a vial of acid and having the container spill completely in her face did I wake up and think THIS IS WRONG!  No warnings prior to that did it, no dangers seemed able to reach me, and nothing made me think it could affect me personally until seeing those events take place.

Parents need to stop hiding the dangers and policing their children and start educating and supervising their children.  Don’t be a warden, be a guide.  If you had a bad experience in your youth that could help your child learn, share it with them!  Ensure they are as informed as they can possibly be about the right things.  Kids are selfish little creatures, so teach them in a way that appeals to their self-absorbed brains.  It won’t be a cure-all, but it’ll be a hell of a lot more effective than thinking simply keeping substances out of your home means your kids won’t get their hands on them.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Last night was the second time in my almost 10 years of being able to drink legally that I’ve gone out on St. Patrick’s Day.  We started off at The Rathskeller, which was a zoo of drunk green people.  Next was Rock Bottom where we were able to grab some seats at the bar and get some amazing food in our bellies.  Finally, we ended up at Howl At The Moon where the husband and I eventually tapped out and left the birthday girl so we could get back to the comfort of our quiet home in Greenfield.  Rather than give a play-by-play of the night, I’m going to go down a few Best Of’s and a few WTFs.

Best Drink Of The Night:  Without a doubt, this was the RB Sweet Iced Tea at Rock Bottom.  Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea Vodka, Beefeater Gin, Bacardi Rum, Cointreau, Sweet and Sour, and Pepsi, shaken and served over ice with a lemon wedge for garnish.  One of the best Long Island’s I’ve ever had.

Worst WTF Crowd:  The Rathskeller was a mess.  I’ve been wanting to get in this place for a while, but we definitely picked the wrong night.  People were packed in like cattle; you could barely move and it sounded as though everyone was screaming at the top of their lungs in order to be heard.  Also, I get that this is a drinking holiday, but there were far too many plastered people considering how early it was.

Best Atmosphere:  Howl At The Moon, a dueling piano bar, gave the bar patrons exactly what a St. Patrick’s Day party should be about.  The music was fantastic, the performers hilarious, and the wait staff very attentive.  I’m planning to go back to this place on a non-holiday some time in the future because I just fell in love with it.

Worst WTF Drunk Chick:  Chicks actually.  A lady in her 60s and another in her 30s, both overweight and both sloppy drunk.  Old lady grabbed my back as she walked by and I had to pry her hand off of me.  Younger lady then grabbed my arm and started babbling about who knows what.  Later, while trying to dance with my two girl friends, the younger one started trying to dance with me, thrusting her crotch in my direction.  I ran.  They were a mess the entire night we were there and seemingly unable to keep their paws to themselves.

Best Pick-Up Line:  While getting ready to leave Rock Bottom, the girls took a bathroom break because we have to go in groups for some reason.  On the way out, this guy said to me:  “DAMN girl, you got a walk on you!”  I don’t know what that means, but it had me cracking up as I ran to find my husband.

Worst WTF Pick-Up Attempts:  I couldn’t hear a word this guy at Howl At The Moon was saying, but had a clear view of his butt crack unfortunately as he danced on stage.  He wore sunglasses, stumbled every few seconds, and loudly shouted in girl’s faces.  At one point I saw him lean in close to a girl and start coughing right in her face.  At another, he tried to hit on a leather-faced woman in her 60s, probably too drunk to see who he was talking to.  I wonder if anyone out there was drunk enough to sleep with him.

Best Meal:  Ball Park Pretzels at Rock Bottom; two giant pretzels brushed with ale and dusted with salt and garlic.  They serve it with a spicy spinach cheese dip that is truly liquid heaven.  This was the perfect treat and I was very tempted to see if I could order a gallon of that cheese dip to bring home.  So damn yummy.

Worst WTF Is Going On Moment:  After the husband and I left Howl At The Moon, it began to sprinkle.  Sprinkles turned into rain, and rain turned into a torrential freaking downpour.  By the time we walked about a mile back to our car, we were fully soaked through to the skin.  It was horrible, but it sobered us up 100% for the drive.

Best Happy Moment:  I have a couple.  Getting home and out of our wet clothes was amazing, as was having some snuggle time with the husband.  Aside from that though, it was truly fun to hang out with some ladies.  Being a girl with mostly male friends and being a girl who has never embraced or even found her girly side, it was nice for a change to spend some time with women who are very different from me.  I hope we get to do it again sometime soon.

Worst WTF OMG WHAT IS THAT Moment:  On the drive home, we saw this on 70.

We didn’t see anyone in the car; the driver’s side door was open and there were no visible bodies inside.  There were half a dozen people walking around near the fiery wreck, but the one car seemed to be the only vehicle involved.  I have no idea if anyone was hurt or what happened, but damn, it was scary.

DAY FIFTEEN (12/31/11)

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone!  2011 was a great year, but I’m glad to see it come to a close and look forward to starting the new year off right.  Like a lot of people are doing right now, I’m making weight loss one of my goals for the new year.  I don’t like calling it a resolution because every single one of those awful things I’ve ever made, I’ve broken into a thousand tiny pieces no later than February.  This is simply a goal for myself to drop a few pounds that just happens to coincide with a major date change.

My goal:  Lost 10 pounds before the Tool concert on January 24, 2012.

My eating habit change:  Calories will be restricted to between 1200 and 1400 per day, no exceptions.  No limits on food, but this does force me to choose between eating that pizza and being done for the day or eating a salad for lunch and being able to snack as I please throughout the day.

My assistants:  A big glass of green tea every morning and vitamins (NO weight loss supplements) every day to keep me healthy and boost my metabolism.  My husband is also eating healthy, so he’ll be a great source of motivation for me.

This plan, just like my plan to see if diet pills work, seems like a no brainer.  No luck is needed on this one!

(I hope)

 

Cancer Sticks

I had my first cigarette when I was around 14 or 15 while trying to impress a friend.  I smoked on occasion during my senior year of high school, hiding cigarettes in an Altoids container so no one at school or at home would know.  One I started college, I began smoking Marlboro Reds on a regular basis; I used my meal card three times a week to get a Cafe Mocha from the Starbucks on campus and would have two cigarettes with my coffee before my 8am class.  My college boyfriend disapproved of my smoking and asked me to quit, but instead I promised him nothing and adjusted my habits and simply didn’t smoke when he was around.  I smoked anywhere from two to five per day depending on what I was doing and who was around me, often quitting entirely during the winter months.  When I began waiting tables for the first time, my smoking increased to around half a pack a day.  I quit when I had my child but started immediately after he was born; I blamed stress at the time but in reality I was simply too weak to resist.  When my husband and I got together, he told me that he wouldn’t be with me if I continued smoking so I threw away my open pack and, other than a night in New Orleans and a couple stressful spring break days, we have both been cigarette free for nearly four years.

Quitting smoking is one of those things that you have to do for yourself.  You choose to start and you have to choose to stop.  No amount of scary advertising and warnings will get a smoker to drop the habit if they don’t want to.  I didn’t quit until I had good enough reasons to; those being my pregnancy with my son and my desire to marry my husband.  I realize that I was wasting my breath when I attempted to preach to people about the dangers of smoking during my off-times.  I have no doubt that the dangers of smoking are no mystery to anyone anymore and it’s just not my place to tell someone else what to do, especially those who aren’t a vital part of my life the way my immediate family is.  As long as those who smoke are respectful and don’t light up in my home or car or any other inappropriate setting, it doesn’t bother me and I keep my lips shut.

When I began my current job, a coworker asked me if I smoked.  When I responded that I did not, they told me that the job would get me started on them soon.  It was an odd thing to say, but I didn’t think much of it.  Throughout the sixteen months that I’ve been here, I’ve frequently been asked if I smoke and lately I’ve been getting some odd reactions when I respond in the negative.  The conversation goes something like this:  Person: “Do you smoke?” Me: “No.” Person: “Why?”  Me: …….

For some reason, lately I’m being asked to give an explanation for why I choose not to smoke.  Upon telling one person that I quit a few years back, I was asked why I don’t start up again.  I’ve been feeling as though people expect me to justify myself to them as to why I don’t smoke and it’s nonsense.  If anything, they should have to explain to me why they choose to smoke in the parking lots and force me to walk through a cloud of smoke.

I’m no stranger to alcoholic beverages and I could never see myself asking someone why they don’t drink.  I know fully well how alcohol can damage the body and the negative effects it has on both the individual and their family, so it’s pointless to ask someone why because I already have the answer.  Even so, sometimes I find myself wondering why a particular person isn’t drinking when the rest of the group is.  I’m not going around asking people, but in a way I’m being just as bad as those who question my non-smoking habit by the thoughts I’m having and not knowing their situation or lifestyle choices.  I shouldn’t be critical in voice or in thought of people avoiding a harmful activity.  It would be absurd for me to begin asking people if they did meth and demand a reason why if they say they don’t, yet it’s okay to question why people don’t pursue other harmful things simply because they happen to also be legal?

It’s odd to look at some of the things that we consider normal behavior and see how we ignore the side effects they do have and ones they could potentially have.  I’m not the only one guilty of judging someone for not drinking at a bar and the people I work with aren’t the only ones giving attitude to non-smokers.  Maybe there is something deep down in all of us that causes us to strive to be part of the group and questions those not like us because of this inner urge for uniformity.  I’ve bonded with strangers over a loaned lighter or cigarette and I’ve befriended coworkers simply because we were able to take smoke breaks together.  It’s such an easy thing to have in common and it saves you from the judgment of people who don’t share in your habit.

Those people who question the habits of others, or lack thereof, are possibly doing nothing more than projecting their own hangups and feelings onto that other person.  There may be some resentment towards me from the people who don’t understand why I don’t smoke because they don’t understand how or why I quit and walked away from cigarettes and maybe they wish they could.  Maybe they just think I’m stuck up.  Perhaps I feel guilty about drinking that extra drink at the bar and that’s why I silently judge the guy sipping nothing stronger than a diet coke.  Whatever the problem is, it’s not the fault of the person being interrogated or shunned and more of us, including me, need to learn and remember that fact.

Drink, Drank, Drunk!

Last night, my husband and I indulged our new obsession and squeezed two episodes of 30 Days into our evening before giving up and surrendering to sleep.  The description of one episode mentioned a mother who decided to binge drink in order to prove a point to her daughter.  I can’t read something like that and decide to watch something else!  Not surprisingly [SPOILER] the mother’s efforts were wasted on her 19-year-old daughter; she held on to that “I know everything and alcohol doesn’t hurt me like it hurts other people” attitude.  This college student was determined to continue drinking heavily because it was fun and she believed she could handle it.  Thankfully, the mother’s youngest son benefited from the experience and seemed to be generally turned off to alcohol and its effects when abused. [END SPOILER]

I’m not against drinking or getting drunk and acting like an idiot.  That being said, I’m not in support of people who drink and can’t handle their alcohol.  This applies to those who get violently ill, who drive while heavily intoxicated, who ruin the fun for everyone around them, who have attitude problems, and who use and/or harm others.  The young female on 30 Days [SPOILER] claimed to black out frequently, but would also claim to be able to handle her booze in the same sentence.  She was cocky about her drinking and terribly rude to her mother, who was putting her health at risk in a last-ditch attempt to help her daughter out. [END SPOILER]  I drank in college and even though it’s illegal when you’re underage, I don’t necessarily thing it’s wrong.  It’s part of college life and the students are adults who are old enough to make decisions for themselves, even though the law states they need a couple more years.  The drinking age in most countries is 18, and with the US being more uptight than other countries about almost everything, I’m more inclined to go with the views of a great deal of the rest of the world and think that 18 is old enough.  That being said, I do think there are certain things college students should be doing if they are going to act as adults and indulge in alcohol.

1.  Let go of the belief that you know everything.  Us old people have been there, done it, and have the battle scars to prove it.  Sometimes your parents aren’t idiots and do actually know what they’re talking about.  At the very least, don’t be a smart ass and blow them off when they’re trying to help.  They took the time to raise you, the least you can do is take the time to hear them out.

2.  Don’t forget where you are.  You’re in college.  It’s a place to learn above all else.  If you only desire to party, save your parents some cash on tuition and drop out, get a job at a bar or something.  If you can’t balance your studies with your drinking, you have to give one up.  I failed U.S. History the first time around because it was at 8am and I generally didn’t go to bed until 3am or later.  If I had to do it all over again, I definitely wouldn’t have picked an early morning class.

3.  Always have a plan to get home.  The parties I went to in college were either within walking distance of my dorm and I made sure I went with a sober friend or was the sober friend.  If you’re drinking and you’re underage, you CAN NOT DRIVE.  One sip of beer is legally too much and you don’t want that on your record; you need a designated driver.  If you’re walking back, it helps to have the sober friend as a designated walker to ensure you get back home safely and without climbing a tree or knocking on random doors thinking you’re home, behaviors that can out you as a drunk minor and get you in trouble on campus.

4.  Drink responsibly.  Yeah, I know, seems silly to tell minors to drink responsibly.  But if you’re in college, you’re an adult (unless you’re one of those genius kids who graduates high school at 12).  Don’t starve yourself before drinking so you can get drunk faster; eat a good meal before going out and don’t turn down a slice of pizza or other fun foods while drinking.  Get a bottle of water or two and alternate good old H2O and your drink of choice; it’ll keep you hydrated and hopefully keep hangovers at bay.  Don’t try to keep up with other people; we all have different tolerances and it’s better to have your boy call you a pussy than it is to be lying on the pavement in a puddle of puke.  Do not operate heavy machinery or do anything else that the little voice in the back of your head tells you is a bad idea while intoxicated.  Don’t pass out; people are dicks to the guy who passes out and people have cameras on their phones for instant upload of your shame to the internet.

5.  Don’t expect mom and dad to approve of your activities.  If they’re paying for your education, give them their money’s worth.  Don’t expect them to fund your extracurricular activities as well as your education.  If  you don’t have the cash to go drinking, you either don’t drink or you get a job.  You shouldn’t be shocked if your parents are upset with you for doing beer bongs.  They SHOULD be upset; you’re too young and you’re supposed to be learning useful things, and NOT the best way to do a keg stand.

6.  You are NOT Superman or Wonder Woman.  My husband has never had a hangover (jerk) but that doesn’t mean he has the free reign to drink whatever he wants without consequence.  Just because you’ve never tripped down a flight of stairs after a 6 pack doesn’t mean it’ll never happen to you.  With alcohol comes stupid behavior and shit happens to the best of us.  If you have the cocky attitude and act like you can take shots all night and be fine, you better believe it’ll come back to bite you in the ass eventually, and everyone who you aggravated with your “I’m untouchable” attitude will be there laughing at your expense.

7.  Learn the benefit of being the sober friend.  I think I had a psychic ability in college that allowed me to sense when NOT to drink; it saved me from MUIs (minor under the influence) and allowed me to drive drunk friends back to their dorms, saving them from consequence.  It also allowed me to have a damn good time laughing at my drunk college buddies.  The Hangover movies are hilarious because drunk people do dumb things and it’s funny to watch and even funnier sometimes watching them try to piece it all together the next day.  Try it out once in a while.

8.  Remember, IT IS STILL ILLEGAL!  A loud party can get the cops called and you busted.  Sneaking drinks at a concert or bar can get you in trouble as well.  The cops won’t buy my argument that you’re an adult because you’re not at the legal drinking age and that’s all they care about.  If you’re willing to take the risk, be willing to deal with the legal ramifications as well.  As lucky as you think you are, you are not immune to the cranky cop who’s fed up with drunk frat boys and you might be the person he decides to take his anger out on.  A few drinks isn’t worth a night or two in jail.

Alcohol is awesome but it can’t become your crutch when partying; you have to learn to have fun without it and you have to be willing to take a step back if you’re frequently blacking out and waking up in strange places with odd people.  What’s the point of having a fun night if you can’t ever remember what you did?  I’m not telling any of the under-21 crowd that they shouldn’t drink because I did enough of it before I legally could, but you’ve got to be smart about it and you’ve got to have respect for your parents.  I’d be devastated if my son came home describing the numerous jello shots that caused him to black out and wake up in a bathtub.  No parent wants to hear that crap about their child unless they utterly fail at parenting.  If they’re telling you to slow down on the alcohol, it’s not because they’re trying to kill your good time, it’s because they’re trying to save your dignity and your liver.  It’s coming from a place of love.

I’m not getting preachy here or advocating a life of sobriety; this chick plans on having a bottle of wine to herself one night this weekend.  My bottom line here is simply to use your brain for more than a beer-absorbing sponge.  Don’t become the sloppy chick who alternates between weepy and slutty.  Don’t turn into the guy who projectile vomits like clockwork after the 8th shot of whiskey.  If every night is spent using a toilet seat as a pillow, maybe you need to rethink your liquid diet a bit.  Drink, get drunk, and be merry as all hell, just don’t let your drunken behavior define who you are and control your life.  Now….. who wants a shot of Crown?

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