Thursday, November 6, 2008

Drink and Be Merry

Okay, so the polling feature didn't go over too well. Don't have to do that again unless everyone just demands it. For the record, The 24/7 Media Cycle scares the most people, all three of you.

Anyway, moving on! I've been thinking about wine a lot recently. First, Sam's Club opened up in town, and we bought a bottle of Riesling that was so big we had to rearrange our fridge to get it to fit. I think it's three bottles worth, all for $11.82. And what with election coverage and stuff, a glass (or two) of wine at the end of the day has been kind of nice.

Ironically, though, I've been working my way through the final re-writes of The Best They Could, where the hero Bobby is struggling to put his life back together after wallowing in the pits of alcoholism. (He does. Eventually, like in all my stories, everyone gets a happily ever after. Eventually.)

And I've been to two book release parties and one Halloween party in one week alone (usually, that much socializing would last me months), and liquor was prominently featured at all three. But, as you may recall, my hubby is technically blind, so I'm the permanent sober driver of the family. Emphasis on the sober.

We go to this Halloween party every year, but in the past it's been held at the hosts' house, three blocks from where we live. No driving, no sober driver, see? It's really the one party where I get to cut loose and get sloshed. But this year they had it at a hall. (Honestly, can't blame them. I wouldn't want drunken revelers running amok through my house wearing weird outfits either.) So I drank water.

Usually, when I walk to and from this party, I talk to just about everyone, wine glass in hand. And, because the other vampires and pirates have also got wine glasses in their hands, they listen and even laugh at the weirdness I spout. (For those of you who know me, you might realize it only gets weirder when my inhibitions fall to the wayside. I won't take it personally if you shuddered at the thought.) A win win, really, except for the hangovers.

But at the party this year, water in hand, I talked to almost no one but my hubby. We did manage to talk to a few other people, but that was maybe twenty minutes out of two and a half hours.

Last night, we went to the book christening party last night for Saadia Ali Aschermann's new volume of poetry, Words Gone Wild. (Yes, I expect you to read it. The poems are short, easy to understand, and crackle with an erotic edge that you just cannot get from Robert Frost.) But this party only emphasized my social lameness. We were at a wine bar, for goodness' sakes, with other people sitting around drinking, and besides talking to Saadia (who I already know), I managed to compliment a woman on her necklace, and she said "Thanks." Another woman took our picture and showed it to us. "I think it's a nice picture," she gushed. "You two aren't having an affair, are you? This is going up on Saadia's site." She was quite relieved that we were married - to each other - and moved off to take other pictures of other people. That was the extent of my conversations with other people.

So I'm sitting at the bar, wondering how on earth I'm going to ever be able to network and schmooze like Saadia does, and I starting thinking about me and wine. When we'd gone to see my old friend Erik in Minnesota this summer, he'd been shocked - really, truly shocked - when I had three hard lemonades during and after dinner. "I didn't think you drank," he cautiously asked. "Didn't used to," I answered.

And I didn't. I had two, maybe three SIPS of alcohol before I turned twenty one. In college, I was the sober walker (you know, the person who knows which way campus is at all times and makes sure none of the group gets left behind in a gutter) when I went out with my friends (which wasn't often). Part of it was that I didn't like losing the control. When I watched other people drink, they all wound up looking, acting, and sounding like loons. I had no desire to look more like a loon than I already do, and they were plenty entertaining on their own. Part of it was (and is) that I do not like the taste of beer, the college beverage of choice. And part of it is that booze costs a lot of money, and I'm damn cheap (ahem, I meant frugal).

After I did turn 21, I had to rely on friends like Erik to order for me. "What should I drink?" I asked on the occasions when I was going to plunk down the money. "Um . . . . ." and they'd scratch their heads. "Amaretto sour? That's fruity." I swear, I probably only drank amaretto sours for maybe five years, and still probably only had 20 of them. When Erik came back from the Peace Corps (you should ask him about that), he and Joshua and I broke into a 19 year old bottle of whiskey - the really good stuff. I got one sip down, and that gagged me. (True friends, they laughed hysterically.) Seriously, my first hangover was the first one of those Halloween parties. That's right. I didn't have A Hangover until I was 31.

My hubby, in his foodie capacity, has been diligently working on introducing me slowly to wine over the last eight years, and I still can't handle red. But I find that I do drink much more now than I ever have. All those flavanoids, I like to reason. Wine has been scientifically proven to be good for you in small doses (true, red is better, but hey, can't win them all). Riesling, hard ciders and lemonades - maybe its that I've found something that tastes good. Maybe it's being run ragged by a three year old. Maybe it's knowing that my hubby is always near, so if I lose some that control I always hated to let go of, he'll keep me from doing something foolish.

But at least a small part of it is the realization that a glass or two of wine erases the nervous pit from my stomach, eases back the social anxiety that has me fidgeting constantly, and lets me just talk to a stranger. It worked best at the conference I went to in April, where, with one glass of Riesling, I was actually able to strike up a conversation with the editor at the bar and not (I most sincerely hope) stick my foot in my mouth. I was practically paralyzed with the wine - without, I'm sure I couldn't have done it. Sure, maybe I talked a little bit louder or faster than was ideal, but that was one of those times when talking too loud is better than not talking at all.

I hope. After all, it's been six months since I mailed the partial. I hope every day that that conversation at the bar did me some good. I'll let you know when I find out. And then we can celebrate over a glass of wine!


Caley Greene said...

Ah...another nearly kindred soul. I can safely say, I've never had a hangover, really I'm okay with that. But I don't like the taste of beer or 98% of wine. I like the fruity stuff or drinks where I neither smell nor taste the alcohol. I agree with you on it loosening you up and tamping down the nerves. Just enough to make it productive. And of course they're going to love it and buy haven't heard anything because it's making the rounds of the editors there. :) Positive thinking.

Sarah M. Anderson said...

See? Us slightly odd kindred spirits can recognize each other at fifty paces.

And thanks for the words of encouragement! I finished the rewrites on THE WHOLE SERIES last night - now just have to wait for my readers (Mom and the Lovely Mary) to get back to me. Then it's query time!