This is a story about underage drinking. No, I’m not glorifying it. And I’m not saying it’s “cool” to drink before you’re legally allowed to. I’m just telling a story. A true story about me. That’s it. So don’t blame me when your little Billy or sweet little Kate come home and puke in the toilet all night because they drank at a party. Not. My. Fault.
This really starts many, many years ago when I was a kid. For as long as I can remember I’ve liked beer. I loved the taste of it when I was 7, and I love the taste of it now at almost 40. My parents drank beer when I was younger, so when they’d have their Saturday night beer I’d usually sneak a sip here and there. I built my tolerance up from a young age. As I got older those sips turned to gulps. I think about what if one of my kids were to do that with one of my beers? I’d probably flip out, that’s what I’d do. But for some reason back then it just didn’t seem very shocking. Instead of my parents saying “Hey! This is a bad for you! You shouldn’t drink!”, it was more like “Hey! Knock it off! That’s MY beer dammit!” I mean, it wasn’t like I was snagging smokes from my mom’s purse. It was just a sip of an oat soda here and there. No big deal. It hasn’t led to “harder” drugs. I’m not cooking meth in the basement now because I sipped beers as a kid. It’s just what you did when your parents partook in beers on Saturday nights in the Midwest. Sure, some geared up for church the next day. We didn’t really hang out with those families.
So one summer my cousin and I decided we’d make homemade wine. We took some grape juice and put a pinch of yeast into it and bottled it in a wine bottle. My cousin kept it at his house while it fermented. I’d gone back to his place later in the summer and we set up a tent in his backyard. Since neither of us really cared for the taste of wine, we mixed our fermented concoction with Tahitian Treat. It was a drink from Heaven. I don’t think it was very strong, but it sure tasted good. It was a story for us to tell in years to come, drinking our home brew by the light of a camp fire. Well, so this same cousin and I would occasionally indulge in a beer here and there at my house when he’d come over. We’d sneak a Strohs or two out of the fridge after my parents would go to sleep and we’d go back to my room and play Mario Bros on a black and white tv. I gotta be honest, Strohs doesn’t taste all that good. But that’s what was available.
Well, one Saturday night after I’d graduated high school my older brother was kind enough to buy my cousin and I a 6pk of Budweiser(some would consider this not very kind at all.) We each had 3 beers to enjoy. Well, my cousin was pretty gung ho about the whole situation and poured two beers into a 40 ounce plastic cup and began gulping away. I on the other hand took my time. It was something to savor. The beer was too much for my cousin. By 1 am he was in the bathroom puking his guts out. I have to add though that his puking was the quietest I’d ever heard. I think even though he was miserably drunk and vomiting uncontrollably, he still feared the repercussions of getting caught. I was perfectly fine, but once he started going downhill I panicked and took the remaining two beers of our 6pk and tossed them across the road into the field that was in front of our house. After my cousin had settled I got him on the couch and put a pan next to him in case the Budweiser decided it wanted another round. I laid down and went to bed. Not more than 20 minutes later my mom comes into my room.
“John. John, is Josh sick?”
“Is Josh sick? There’s a pan by the couch. Did he get sick?”
“Yeah. He didn’t feel good. He’s better now.”
And with that she left me to my buzzed slumber. The next morning my cousin was still asleep on the couch and I came out to the kitchen. My mom asked me if we were drinking the night before. I told her yes. Surprisingly she wasn’t mad. She said if we were going to drink that she was glad we did it at home and not out somewhere. I think years of my older brother going to parties and drinking way too much, coming home and vomiting in the front yard had prepared her for more of the same with me. Who knew, I was the level-headed one. So my cousin rose from the dead in time to have lunch and get queasy watching ‘High Plains Drifter'(lots of rapid camera movements in that one.) Well, my mom had asked me how much beer we drank. I told her two each, and that I threw the two remaining ones across the road into the field. My parents laughed and asked why the hell I did that?
“Had to get rid of the evidence.”
A couple days later I’d gotten home from work and went to the fridge to grab something to eat. There, sitting on the top shelf of the fridge were two dented cans of Budweiser. My dad had gone across the road and snagged my tossed evidence of underage drinking. We Hubners love our beer. So much so that we’ll even snag muddied, dented cans of Bud out of a cold, Midwestern field in November.
Things are different nowadays. Kids can’t just enjoy a beer or two on a Saturday night while watching lousy flicks on the tube. There has to be flesh-eating drugs involved, or synthetic marijuana that’ll make you eat your pal’s face off in his sleep. Or sexting. Or twerking. Or shaving the dog bald and throwing him off the roof of your parent’s house while twerking on bath salts. Nothing is as simple as snagging a couple of your mom and dad’s brews(and letting your older brother’s stoned friends take the blame)and playing video games on a black and white 12 inch TV.
Underage drinking. Those were simpler times, for sure.