An Independent Coming of Age.

Fireworks My first real glass of wine was on Independence Day.

I must have been all of 10 or 11 years old and with the family at a fireworks display in Marin County, where I grew up. It wasn't my first sip of alcohol. I'd stolen that from my father's bottle of beer on a few occasions. But here, sitting on the grass, waiting for the fireworks to burst on to the scene, I drunk my first, full, honest glass of wine.

It was poured for me by an employee of my father who was sitting next to me on the blanket, spread out on the lawn of a civic center, We were surrounded by others on blankets and sheets and in chairs.

I had run out of my own drink, Coke I'm sure it must have been, and was sitting with an empty plastic glass in my hand. She looked at me and said, "you can have a little of this, but drink it slow or don't drink it at all."

I thought that was sound advice mainly because I wasn't at all sure what this red stuff tasted like. I did see that it came out of a large green jug. Just as importantly, my father and mother didn't see the big green jug tilt into my glass.

Even now, more than 35 years later, I can still feel the excitement and sense of maturity that braced me as I sipped this adult beverage. I was scare too. I didn't think my father would approve and thought that I'd get in great trouble if discovered. But it WAS poured for me by an adult. Not a responsible adult. But an adult nonetheless. I felt grown up and different than the rest of the kids around me.

It was a decent sized pour. Probably a cups worth. And she watched me as I took my first sip. I could feel her watching me as I brought it to my lips. To this day I don't know if she was just trying to get a "yuck" out of me and a laugh for herself.

I drank the whole glass. Not in one gulp, but quick enough. I didn't want to get caught. And she didn't get a "yuck out of me". I do recall the red wine being something north of "yuck", but far south of the sweet, sugarly Coca Cola that was my standby. The truth is, the excitement of having a glass of wine like the adult next to me meant I'd was guaranteed to drink it all.

I didnt get drunk. I don't even recall feeling tipsy. I remember feeling grown up.

I've never much liked the feeling of being drunk, despite having fallen into that state on an irregular basis since about 16 or 17. The feeling weighs on me. I get a heavy head that isn't pleasant. But that night I wondered what all this talk about alcohol was and why I couldn't have it more regularly at my age. I expected to feel something. But…nothing.

Tomorrow will be a dry rose and riesling day. I'll watch fireworks, again. I won't get drunk. And I'll continue to be grown up.

Posted In: Personal, wine


7 Responses

  1. Samantha Dugan - July 4, 2011

    Happy 4th Tom! Enjoy the day, the memories, the fireworks and the dry Rose.

  2. Tom Wark - July 4, 2011

    Do the same Sam!!

  3. Anavar - July 5, 2011

    I remember my first glass of wine, funny thing is I didn’t even like it then.

  4. Ben Ward - July 5, 2011

    My first glass of wine was used on a delicious stir fry! But now I have much more respect for the precious liquid!

  5. JohnLopresti - July 5, 2011

    My parents did not drink; except when the grand dad attended an auspicious banquet at our house his invitation always included a request he bring some homemade wine. I was about 12 when the custom began; and by 13 I had criticized the mercaptic off-flavors sufficiently, and wondered if he racked it off the lees often enough, that one after-banquet comment from him informed me that had been my final sip of special occasion burgundy for many years.
    So, I was not into the stuff at all; even thru college in an Irish metropolis in which college age young men knew their beers and it was a socialization staple. Eventually, some honors award I earned at the university seemed to have entitled me to attend a European training course for American students. It was a nation which had no minimum age for intake of alcohol beverages. My college was operated by Jesuits. Just prior to the embarcation, the summer program leader, a Jesuit, discovered I did not drink, at age 20. He devised a pre-embarcation soiree of all the registered students, and he personally served each of us, underage or not, whatever drink we knew to name. I informed him I did not know the names of drinks. He suggested a Cuba Libre, rum and cocaCola. Standing there next to a young woman from Vassar, I tasted my first sip of a mixed drink, and noticed, as Tom suggested, something of an adult perspective toward the entire event, and toward the young lady with whom I was supposed to socialize and chat as proof we both were appropriate student material for a foreign university summer training. I believe I passed that test, introduced to responsible adult supervised customs which were banal by European standards. Yet, standards, all the same.

  6. Tom Wark - July 5, 2011

    You gotta love those wacky Jesuits.
    I remember the Cuba Libra. However, in my late high school days we just called it “Really Easy To Mix Up In a Coke Can”.

  7. kona coffee - March 31, 2014

    It’s difficult to find educated people for this
    subject, however, you sound like you know what you’re
    talking about! Thanks

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