Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Under the Influence- symbolism of cans and bottles

As the author mentioned, at the time the essay was written, some ten or fifteen million Americans shared his father's disease of alcoholism. As a child I used to see my own dad drink constantly. I'm not sure if he was an alcoholic or simply liked the taste of the drink, but there would always be a myriad of tallboys in the fridge when I'd come home from school. Every passing day I would see a beer slide its way into his hand as he sat on the recliner watching a football game or comedic movie, as he conversed with a buddy he had invited over, as he relaxed after getting off work. Every so often I would spy a sizeable bottle of Crown Royal lying around the house.
He really liked drinking on the holidays, but who doesn't? At annual family gatherings around Thanksgiving and Christmas the frothy beverages seemed to make the warm, comfortable atmosphere all the more bubbly. And as opposed to the author's father while drunk, my dad would transform into a stand-up comedian. He cracked jokes and checked people left and right never failing to make my relatives laugh hysterically. Although I was young back then, that didn't keep me from thinking my dad was amusing. He didn't have to be drunk to be funny; it just added on to the hilarity of his cool personality. He never got violent unless the wrong circumstances came about while he was drinking with a certain brother of his. After the first few incidents, however, this was avoided altogether.
His adoration for alcohol never really got in the way of my childhood either. And I say "never really" for a reason. In some ways booze did get in the way. Sometimes on random nights during the week he wouldn't even come home. Looking back I suppose that was a good thing since a DUI isn't too awesome. He was a good dad in most respects, always picking my sister and me up and throwing us high in the air so we would feel like we were flying, carrying us on his shoulders through the grocery store so we would feel like giants (and wouldn't have to walk), taking us with him to work just so we could spend more time together.
Then there’s my mom. She would stick to wine coolers and Smirnoff Ice on those giddy family-oriented holidays. It wasn’t until a few months ago actually that I finally discovered she had tasted liquor. Of course, unlike my dear old dad, she wasn’t a fan of Jack or Jose or any of their mouth-watering associates for that matter. My mom was always a more reserved sort of company. She loved to laugh at the crazy things my dad would come up with, but she was never the first to jump into the conversation and be wild and spontaneous as him. Basically she managed to have a great time regardless of the involvement of alcohol.
On a different note, this essay sort of scared me. Now that my dad doesn't live in the same state as me I no longer have a clue as to how much he might be drinking these days. He seemed kind of depressed when my mom told him she wanted a divorce (not because of alcoholism, mind you). It is a well known fact, however, that forms of depression may sometimes lead to alcohol or drug use and possible abuse in order to "ease the pain." The essay also worries me in the respect that alcohol is known for addictive properties, and I myself began consuming it in the tenth grade. I wouldn't necessarily say the piece makes me want to quit consuming my beloved whiskey altogether, but it definitely made me more clearly aware of the drink's potent and controlling power. And being the skeptic that I am (a see-it-to-believe-it type person), having read this first hand account from decades ago has truly caused me to be more wary of my consumptions.

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