A little bit about me is that I grew up in a small town in East Texas. If you happen to be a fan of The Big Bang Theory, then I can say with much confidence that every jab and snide remark Sheldon Cooper makes about his mother and his East Texas relatives are true. More than true. Every time I laugh hysterically at another East Texas remark Sheldon makes, I can’t help but immediately wonder how much of it is based on Jim Parsons’ real life and his raising. Even more so, I think about Jim, who is only a couple years older than me, being raised in the same era as me and his Spring, TX area high school of Kline Oaks which is only a few miles away from my current neighborhood. When someone mentions how funny Sheldon’s mother is (played by Laurie Metcalf), I tell them with a straight face that if they want to meet my mother, look at Sheldon’s mom. Seriously. Sheldon’s family is the closest representation to my family I can claim of anyone on television. In a show FULL of stereotypical parental archetypes, BBT gets it right.
So, growing up in East Texas it shouldn’t surprise many that I grew up in a Southern Baptist Conservative family. Let me just say first that I love my family. Every weird quirk and contradiction – I love ‘em. But, Southern Baptists are special people. Since the list of what makes them special can go on and on, I’ll limit it to one in particular, and that is drinking. As I sat with my bottle of 19 Crimes this evening, I began thinking about how drinking never occurred in my family. And if it did, it remained locked up and was kept a secret (meaning only certain distant cousins did it and we didn’t associate with them anyway.) Being that my family didn’t drink, I grew up very naïve to alcohol and the wonders of a good drink. My biggest exposure to alcohol came in the form of John Hughes movies and the massive parties my goody-goody friends never had. Mixed drinks were had at the clubs on Friday nights, (which despite being raised in a college town, I never frequented that scene). Wine was served only if you went to Italian restaurants (which there were none). Champaign only came out during promotions or marriage proposals. And in my small little world of East Texas, there were no occasions for that. I knew nothing about drinking and I’m so sad about that.
As a grown up, and more importantly, when I made the conscience decision to drink, I was amazed at all that I came to find out. I was like a babe in the woods. I tried mixed drinks – anything with fruit involved got my attention. I tried the cheap stuff too. Who hasn’t had a broke-college-student-willing-to-try-Thunderbird moment? As I got older, I learned that I really was a wine person. As I came into my own as a wine connoisseur, I made further discoveries that still boggle my mind. Did you know that some people have wine with dinner almost every night? (can you read my sarcasm here?) Did you know that some people buy wine by the case? Bourbon by the case? Whiskey by the case? Whisky, whiskey and ouisge? Did you know that there are specialty stores that sell these types of liquors that have paved and LIGHTED parking lots, is not located on the county line, does not share a parking lot with a strip club, the patrons dress well in suits and business attire, they aren’t trying to barter with the cashier for a discount and there isn’t a homeless man on the sidewalk by the door asking you to buy him something to help with the chill? Did you know that there are custom designed cabinetries specifically designed for holding your wine and spirits collection? And goodness me, don’t get me started on the different types of glasses and stemware. I had a lot to learn, obviously. The world of alcohol was massive and more complex than I ever imagined. And I needed to learn fast.
I did my share of trying out wines and different hard liquors. To save this story from being any longer than it needs be, I finally discovered what wines are more suited for me and that my favorite hard liquor is rum. I proudly display it on a cabinet I have in my house, along with my Champaign glasses, shot glasses and some empty space patiently awaiting some crystal ware (for that whiskey I bought in Ireland that I haven’t opened yet.) When I go to a party, I consult the hostess about what I should bring and I pick out a spirit to bring along. When I go to holiday dinners at my aunt’s house (who is German, thank God by the way, because Germans don’t shy away from alcohol) I always bring the right kind of wines to accompany our meals. And our small family enjoys it. Until another relative shows up. At which point all hilarity and hell breaks loose. For example, this past Thanksgiving, I brought the wines, my brother brought the beers and vodka, my fiancé brought the mead, my cousin (half-German) brought the Champaign and we had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with our preferred drinks of choice. That is until my mother spotted her sister in the driveway and she hustled faster than I’ve seen any septuagenarian with a recent full knee replacement ever move. I was amazed that my mother got all the alcohol hidden before my aunt walked in the door. We laughed and teased her relentlessly about it. She still cares that the rest of the family sees us as perfect drink free angels. Apparently we don’t want to be the cousins that are whispered about.
It reminds me of a joke I’ve heard all my life: If you have a drink, what’s the best way to make sure no one drinks it? Punchline: Have two Baptists watch over it. Because they wouldn’t dare drink it in front of the other.
Cheers and Sláinte!