I come from a big family and religiously attend our annual family reunion every fall. Some people do their worshiping in church, I do mine around a buffet table of casseroles and homemade sour pickles. But I’m not going to lie, after attending more than twenty of these shindigs, I’m itching for a little drama. My relatives consume their weight in chocolate milk (it’s the dairy farming roots in all of us) and swap brownie recipes and look genuinely happy to see each other. I’ve watched enough movies and television shows to know that this isn’t normal. Seriously, I’m pretty sure we’ve never had a brawl or a fist-fight or even a mild tussle. This year, as I sat digesting my lunch and listening to the polite chit-chat around me, I started musing on what would add a little excitement. As a new member of the 21+ club, my thoughts naturally turned to alcohol. My own family wasn’t delivering on the boozy shenanigans and drama, but what might another family be like? I began to fantasize about a real, “normal” family, and thus, Ask Me Why I’m Drinking, the cringe-worthy game show you never knew you needed (until now), was born.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Welcome to another episode of Ask Me Why I’m Drinking, the game show where we ask people why they’re drinking today! You may remember our “Dance Chaperones” episode (“Tequila makes me forget that the bow tie never quite matches the dress”) and “Squash Moms” (“Everyone loves to talk about soccer moms and their mini vans, but what about me and my PT Cruiser?”).
Today, we’re coming to you live from the Smith Family reunion, where we’ll ask members of this big happy family the question on everyone’s mind: “Why are you drinking?”
First up, let’s talk to Great Uncle Pat.
Why are you drinking, Uncle Pat? “There’s nothing like a multi-generational family gathering to make a 92-year-old feel young again. I’m kidding. These cherubic toddlers make me painfully aware of my arthritic hip and the thirteen grey hairs left on my head. The whiskey keeps me from growling when someone asks if it’s nice to be out of the nursing home for a few hours.”
Next up we have Mom. No, not my mom. And not your mom. But she hasn’t gone by anything but Mom since her first child was born.
Mom, why are you drinking? “There’s something you need to understand. Nothing makes me want to drink. My child gets the world’s worst tattoo and I calmly sip my ice water. The labradoodle digs up my azalea bush and I just pour a little extra cream in my coffee that morning. But spending the afternoon with my mother, my sister, and the smell of three dozen sun-warmed egg salad sandwiches? That has me reaching for that bottle of wine again and again. Only when no one else is looking, of course.”
We find Cousin Peter hovering near the chips and dip. Let’s see what he’s up to.
Peter, why are you drinking? “You know how some people don’t know what to do with their hands in photos? They’re always caught ‘hover handing’ it? Well I have an extreme case of I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-hands ever. Holding a can of Bud Light keeps one hand busy and solves half of this problem. I suppose a soda would also work but carbonation makes me sneeze, and also there’s this small thing I do where I don’t want to be sober if someone asks me when I’m going to get married haha.”
Standing next to Cousin Peter is Cousin Peter’s girlfriend. (Yes, she has a name, but no one is even sure if she’s the same girlfriend Peter brought last year or not. They’re all afraid to ask her what her name is in case they learned it last year and should remember).
Why are you drinking? “I did come last year. And the year before. And every time, his aunt tells me that I’m ‘much better than that girl he brought last year.’ I’m trying to remember that she’s old and posts inspirational quotes on Facebook at least four times a day and that I shouldn’t care what she thinks, but it’s starting to sting. Not as bad as my tongue stings after drinking this trash, but still…”
Next up we have Cousin Anthony. He’s been sitting in a tiny plastic chair, looking sad and uncomfortable.
Anthony, why are you drinking? “I just turned 21 a few weeks ago. I’m really embracing this adulthood thing. I’ve started doing my own laundry and I only eat a pb&j for dinner every other night. My family may still make me sit at the kids’ table, but at least I can bring a cool hipster beer with me now. Although, honestly, this stuff is disgusting and burns and I don’t think I can drink another sip. I’ll have to ask Peter for a Bud Light.”
Images via Alexa Barrett and via Elizabeth Purington.