Tag Archives: beer

Raise a Glass

There have been many funny episodes in my life that involve alcohol, and a fair number of embarrassing episodes, and I’m not admitting to any pure straight up dumbass ones.  Plus, you have no proof of those — let’s hear it for coming of age before social media! Alcohol has also played a part in two of my prouder achievements.

But before we get to that, we have to go back to a job I had many years ago at the nonprofit Boston Center for Adult Education. You know, adult education, where people in their 20s pretend they’re “expanding their horizons,” with tai chi, or how to make a business plan, or making sushi, but they are really just looking to find other singles. And the joke is always on straight women, because most of the classes are filled with other straight women. Or was that just me? Anywho, this was way after the “Mad Men”/5 martini lunch era and way before start-up beer in the fridge and Foosball tables in the conference room era. Do you see how we Gen-Xers were completely left behind as far as alcohol in the workplace? Well, the BCAE, as we affectionately called it, created my noble desire to leave no alcoholic beverage behind. It used to be housed in an old mansion, so wedding reception rentals provided an income stream. Fortunately for us, our archaic old-ass Puritan Massachusetts laws prohibited the couple from taking any leftover alcohol with them. As a result, we always had a stash of wine and other spirits that were kept in the “wine closet.” That was an actual thing in my workplace. Of course my office supplies were kept in a built-in sock drawer and I worked in what had been the master’s bedroom (the house mrs. slept in the room nearby), but that’s a whole other blog.

All I’m saying is, when you are a Gen-Xer and 30 years old making essentially less than the minimum wage of today, but it’s OK because you are helping people, having wine at work was pretty damn exciting. And so every once in a while the education director would check the wine closet situation on a Friday afternoon and in no time we would have a beautiful spread of wine, cheese, and nibbles, fit for a wedding reception.

I vowed to leave no alcohol behind, so I knew what I had to do at my next job at a health newsletter publisher (remember those? So cute, those print newsletters, aren’t they?) When I got there, there was already a cruise director of sorts who organized movies at lunch and company outings. I didn’t want to step on his toes, so I waited patiently, and when he left, there was a wide open space. Apparently most people don’t like to organize fun at work. Who knew? I started off slowly with “tea time” — with tea in a real teapot and little teacups and cookies and little yummies. Once I had them enjoying that, it was a short leap to “wine time.” That was very cool until we got bought out by another company that seemed to prohibit alcohol in the workplace. Wha?

I say “seemed” because, ever the resourceful employee dedicated to the vision of drinking at work, I carefully scoured the fine print of the employee manual and discovered this fateful phrase: that alcohol was allowed at “company sponsored” events. Score! Just to be on the safe side though we referred to the “company sponsored” events as “tea time.” What can I say, our headquarters HR lady would visit once a quarter and we called her Catbert.

I eventually left the company, and that satellite office closed less than a year later, but a group of us continue the ritual in the more traditional venue of a bar after work. Now we get to call it a drinkfest, a nice name for my favorite work achievement.

My second alcohol-related achievement is that I got my mother to drink with me. Truth be told, this would be the second time her children have persuaded her. I believe my sister had the first honor when she came back from college a beer fan and got my mom on board. Having gone to an all girl high school and trying to be a nun after that before she got too sick to continue, my mom had missed out on a lot of teenage shenanigans. So it was up to us to make sure she made up for it in mid-life.

Fast forward to her recent move to assisted living. The two items in my mom’s fridge right now are beer and prune juice. And I think at age 88, that pretty much covers the bases. When she moved we tried to help her keep her rituals from home, one of which was every Saturday night she had beer and pizza. Her assisted living doesn’t have pizza that consistently, so she stopped drinking, can you imagine? When I told her to drink a beer after dinner on Saturday anyway, she said she doesn’t like to drink alone. Which is funny, because she drank by herself at home, and there weren’t even 100 assisted living neighbors within 20 feet of her, just my dad hanging out in another part of the house.

After couple of weeks of that suggestion being ignored, and she still wasn’t drinking in her apartment, I knew I had to act swiftly and hatched a plan. We FaceTime with each other every Friday night, and I always have wine on Fridays (and Mondays and Tuesdays and…but I digress), so I invited her to drink with me. Sure enough the next week she was hoisting her beer with me. This week she even finished hers before I finished mine. It was a proud moment.


A Little Help from My Friends

My head is full of thoughts and ideas. This is pretty much a normal state for a writer, except right now very little of it makes any sense: there are a lot of competing ideas, a lot of unfinished random thoughts, a fair number of WTF exclamations, some stuff that’s just plain wrong, and there are a few usable ideas, but most of it is scary–it’s kind of like Facebook in my head right now. And nobody needs that, least of all me. I do think there is a coherent thread forming about how I want to move forward, and I wish I meant, should I write more blogs about bad dating or funny work stories?  Oh, the good old days.

But no matter what state the world is in, I can count on my annual girls’ weekend. We all went to high school together, and two of us have been friends since 4th grade. We gathered in Boston this weekend and enjoyed the weather and walked in the city, talked, laughed, ate, drank, ate more, drank more, and laughed again. Luckily, we are all on the same side as far as being horrified by what’s going on–that is not the case with our larger circles. It also came in handy for when we started playing the card game setback. None of us could bear to say trump, which comes up a lot in that game. I’m pretty sure it’s in the rules that you have to frequently ask, “What’s trump?” during the game, and it’s definitely not because of wine consumption. So, we took a stand and refused to say it, and instead said obama. In addition to asking what was obama, every time someone laid down a you-know-what point card, one of us shouted, “obama!”

We agreed to not dwell on politics and try to stay positive, that is until the third glass of wine; then it’s open season for dragging out old, embarrassing stories. But that’s where the healing laughter comes in, and we are very fair in making sure everyone gets laughed at. We’re good that way. And I want to be clear that even though we are all of a similar political persuasion, we did not discriminate and were inclusive: we had wine, beer, cocktails, and we even had an educational, in-depth lively discussion about the origins and making of scotch, whiskey, and bourbon. So stick that in your obama.

I always feel lucky for knowing these women, but this year I feel it even more. Here’s to you Colleen, Gloria, and Sue. No one makes better fun of me than you guys or plays a better obama card game.