One evening, when I was 16, I walked into Wagner’s Market in Dunbar, and purchased a six-pack of Miller High Life, in bottles. My friends Rocky and Mike were waiting in a car outside, after successfully conning me with a “you look the oldest” line of bullshit.
Beads of sweat were running down the middle of my back as I approached the cashier. I knew I was just minutes away from being arrested, but was now past the point of no return. I put the beer on the counter, and the guy said, “Hey, man!” and proceeded to ring up my purchase. Didn’t even blink.
Relieved and triumphant, I walked back to the car, certain I was about to be received as a conquering hero. But Rocky shouted, “A six-pack? One goddamn six-pack?? Why didn’t you buy twelve?!”
“You do it, asshole,” I said, while climbing into the passenger seat. Wow. This guy was too much. I had no doubt he’d been sitting out there with his engine running, and the transmission in REVERSE, ready to abandon me as soon as he heard the sirens.
But, needless to say, I was back inside the store two minutes later, buying another six. “Um, I probably should just go ahead and grab another one while I’m here,” I said, in a squeaky voice that sounded like it was coming from an 11 year old girl.
This time the cashier eyed me with suspicion. He didn’t say anything, and let me buy the beer, but made it clear I was pushing my luck. “Thank you!” I shouted in my surprising new novelty voice, and got the hell out of there. I think my balls dropped back into place sometime after midnight.
We took our precious cargo to the high school, parked alongside the running track and I had my first taste of beer, as Ace Frehley’s solo album blasted from the speakers. It was super-exciting.
While downing the second bottle, I started to feel a buzz coming on. And I liked it, very much. Halfway through the third one, I shouted, “This is the greatest night ever!” And after we polished off four each, Mike and I were hollering, “Let’s go get some more!!”
But, as difficult as it might seem, Rocky was the voice of reason. He was an old pro at this drinking thing, and convinced us we’d better take it easy the first time out.
We went to a basketball game, in the high school gym, and I felt confident and sure of myself, maybe for the first time ever. Plus, it seemed like we were sitting on a huge secret, which was exhilarating. Of course half the crowd was probably drunk, but we were too naïve to realize it.
It turned out to be the slipperiest of slopes. From that point forward, we drank beer all the time: every night if we could manage it. Things that were previously fun, now seemed quaint and boring. Everything had changed, that night by the track with “the champagne of beers.”
Within three months we could’ve published a booklet called Underage Drinking in the Kanawha Valley: a How-To Guide. We’d done the research, and knew which stores would sell to zitty teenagers, and which wouldn’t. We could’ve even broken it down by specific cashier. Oh, we were quite thorough.
And it was all fun ‘n’ games for about five years, before shit got dark… But that’s a story for another time. In the comments section, please tell us about your first beer. I’m guessing 16 is pretty late for such things, but how many of you actually PURCHASED your first beer? I bet that’s quite rare.
In any case, if you have anything on this one, please share. And I’ll be back tomorrow.
Have a great day, my friends!
Now playing in the bunker
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Patty in Cleveland says
We had a corner store in a crappy neighborhood that we called Jack’s “No need for an ID” Deli. I bought loads of alcohol for parties starting when I was 15. Guy never once refused me–other people but never me–go figure.
Root 66 says
16 is NOT pretty late for such things. I’ve never even had a beer! I’m more of a Pepsi man…
I was probably around 15 or 16. I grew up in NY and they sell beer in supermarkets, usually one of the guys in the group would go in and shove as much beer as he could fit in his baggy pants and walk out. Than we would run into the woods not too far away and drink. If the employees were catching on to the guys, one of the girls one go up to some guy and ask him to buy it for us. They always did lol. I remember coming back to the supermarket to get more and we were all so drunk we could barely walk so we just sat in front of the store acting rowdy. At one point I remember some guy pulling up in his car, asked how old I was, I told him 16 he proceeded to ask me to “go for a ride” with him. I said hell no and my friends told him to fuck off.
We were always allowed to drink at home, so I was never big into the alcohol thing. I was always the one buying for everyone, though – I guess I was the most over-confident.
Liza Zajac Whitehead says
Miller High Life is STILL my preferred beer. If I anticipate drinking more than one I’ll even opt for the Miller64. Don’t judge me!
Miller comes in a 64-bit version? I did not know that!
Miller 2.0 has full bit compression, so they give you the same experience with 48 bits. And Liza, the same compression rate could take your three names down to two. I’m just saying…
Since I live in a college town, I sometimes run into students who stop me and attempt to talk me into buying them beer or other things. I always laugh and walk on.
I remember hanging out in front of the liquor store (back when it was ran by the state) trying to get someone to buy a bottle of liquor.
The story of my first beer is actually pretty depressing and awkward.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Did you try to drink it with the wrong hole?
“Uncle” Rico plied him with beer then went to work on his hole?
We could also drink a beer at home whenever we wanted after about age 16, so the mystery wasn’t there. However, something about those cold ones cracked open on Rehoboth beach after HS graduation was just different, and better.
WB in OH says
I would have been a little kid when I had a taste of beer, Dad would let us take sip of his from time to time.
The first time I caught a buzz, was the summer between my 8th and freshman years. My sisters wedding, Dad said I could have a cup of beer. I had a LOT more than one, might have been three felt like I drank twelve, man was I smashed.
When we got old enough to drive, there was a bar in the middle of nowhere that catered to the underage crowd. Could you imagine the outrage this day and age if a bar got busted and there were 50-60 underage kids whopping it up inside.
I feel like someone ‘gave’ me a beer before I turned 18, but otherwise – yeah, I bought my own first beer. It was at Lighthouse Limited in Cincinnati and it was probably Drewry’s or Hudepohl. I was just 3 months past my 18th birthday.
The next week I was back and I got so drunk I broke my ankle dancing to “Gimme 3 Steps” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I almost went to my Senior Prom with a cast on my foot.
May of 78. Senior trip. Williamsburg VA. Many, many cans of The Champagne of beers. Next day much much puking in bathroom of Trailways bus.
From 11 or 12 I was allowed a pint of beer at home at weekends. It was no big deal. From 14 the local country pub would serve us so long as we stayed in the Beer Garden and behaved ourselves. I went on a school field trip at 16 and the children and teachers walked en masse to the local village pub for a pre-dinner pint each evening.
This is funny country with alcohol. It’s okay to give a 16 year boy a 300hp Camaro, but he might hurt himself with a can of beer. Right you are.
We won the war son, speak english.
When I was a wee lad of three or four (Jeff was already 21 at this point), I snuck out one of my grandpa’s Old Milwaukee beers. I went in the back yard so he wouldn’t hear me open it. When I took a sip it was repulsive. I don’t remember the sensation, but it remember that I put myself in a position of getting in trouble for the worst reason in the world. I was scared to death, “Oh no, I stole something and drank beer. The two worst crimes! And it was gross to boot.” I ran off into the woods, probably just a few trees, and hid it under some leaves. Nobody ever said anything about it. I’m pretty sure they figured i “learned my lesson”. HA! fooled them.
The first beer I liked was around the age of 13 or 14 (31-32 in Jeff Kay years). Me and some classmates went camping at a well known underage drink spot known as Bud Hill. There we camped out drinking Budweiser and playing with fire. Not to eventful really, but there ya go. I remember it got pretty cold that night.
I was 11 or 12 the first time I tasted hard liquor. It was some old Gilby’s Gin I found in the back of my dad’s fridge. I got to go visit him during the summer, but he still had to work; so, I found myself bored often. It was a few states away so I didn’t know any one, much exploring to do. (Note: that’s also the first year I got to spend time with high quality porno, such as Penthouse; rather than whatever half torn sticky smut rag we found at the cemetery) Anyway, I took a swig of gin straight from the bottle like you see people on TV and movies do.
I could have swore I drank liquefied fire. I spit it all out like a spit take back into the fridge (a mess I’d have to clean up later before dad got home). I ran to the bath room and filled my mouth with toothpaste, soap, shaving cream, and anything else I could find that would take the taste out of my mouth. I could taste it with my throat, my tongue, my teeth, my lips, my gums, everything. Now the only thing I drink is high quality Gordon’s Gin. I couldn’t believe anyone would drink that. Then I spent some quality time looking at porno and smoking stolen cigarettes.
The first time I intentionally drank booze was a few years later, maybe when I was 15 or 16 (mid to late thirties Jeff era). By this time I had learned that the best way to do something new was to do it by myself, that way I don’t embarrass myself in front of other people. What I had not yet realized, until after this night, was that being alone also removes you from other peoples advice and experience.
For your consideration, this is what I drank that night: 4 ounces of mystery tequila and 4 ounces of Old Charter bourbon.
I had it planned out from the beginning of the weekend. I knew that on Friday night that I would be alone in the house for an extended period of time. The family I lived with would be gone by the time I got home from school. It would just be me and their daughter (the one with huge knockers) until the following day. I also knew that the girl would be out with her boyfriend, taking advantage of the lack of supervision.
The morning before school on Friday I filled two four ounce sippy cups to the brim with tequila and whiskey. I used sippy cups so I could use their lid to seal them off; that way no one would smell the booze. Then I hid the loot in the dirty laundry pile. (I don’t know why I had to do all this planning if I was going to be alone, but it was fucking crucial) After school I began to drink. Remembering the gin experience, I knew I had to drink them fast to be able to hold it down. I sat by the toilet in case I had to spit any out. I drank both cups in a matter of a few minutes. Then I ate the peanut butter sandwiches I made before hand to get the taste out of my mouth.
For a while it was awesome. The world was bright. TV was hilarious. I was happy and free and could do whatever I wanted. Then I felt bad. Real bad. I started puking in the kitchen sink. I drunkenly cleaned it out and decided that it was too hard to aim my vomit. So I went out into the yard and threw up out there. I puked so much that I began dry heaving (another first). I thought I was going to die, and I probably should have. I was terrified. I swore off all the vices of the world. No more experimenting. I was going to graduate high school and go be a monk.
At some point I fell asleep. I woke up and it was dark. I slept into the night. Nobody was home yet so I stumbled back to bed.
The next day I said I must have caught the flu or something. I was hung over for three days. I didn’t know what was wrong. I still thought I was going to die, but no way was I going to tell anyone what happened. Now the only thing I drink is high quality Gordon’s Gin.
Bill in WV says
We had one particular convenient store we frequented called “Romeo’s Rapid Mart”, which was along a dark two-lane highway between to towns. There was a lone clerk who worked there who required a seat mounted above wheels to get around. One of us would go in to make the purchase and we had all agreed that, if the guy wouldn’t sell, we’d just go in there and lay him on his side and then “purchase” the beer. We would not steal it. Never had to do that, but I still crack up at the notion.
Oh, we would always buy our beer from the bait shop.
The bait shop was just that, a shop where people could by fishing bait. it was WWAAAAAAYYYYY out of town. So the guy who owned it would go into town, buy a bunch of beer and sell it back to people who were going fishing. It was a convinience thing for of age fishers.
If he knew you, like he did many of us, becuase you actually bought bait and stuff there, he would sell you beer.
the only thing he would by to sell was Bud and Bud Light. That’s why Bud Hill was named as such. Because everyone would go get their beer at the bait shop, drive out to the woods, and leave a hill of Bud cans the next morning.
First beer at 17 and it was godawful – some cheap now-defunct Budweiser knockoff stolen from somebody’s dad’s fridge. Quickly learned that cheaper is not better.
Drinking age in D.C. in the mid-60’s was 18, so we could just drive into town from the ‘burbs (on 25 cents worth of gas) and buy it legally.
It wasn’t my first beer, but it was my first beer buzz. I was 17, we were in our last year of High School, so we were gods! My mates Craig & Brad & myself went to Craigs home at lunchtime (we had a free period) and proceeded to get smashed on a 6 pack of beer! We then foolishly went back to school several hours later, only to find the principal waiting for my Brad, he was expelled, Myself and Craig went to class and sat giggling in the back..not my finest moment but funny looking back.
Alcohol was also allowed while I was growing up. Guess some parents figured it out that giving the taste of beer/wine in very moderate quantities would keep later alcohol experimentation in check.
Labatt Black Horse Ale was the beer of choice around our families house, tasty stuff. The sad part is, they discontinued it many years ago. My uncle’s beer of choice was some god awful Molson brewery concoction that had a schooner on the label. Foul tasting crap.
My first overdoing it on beer was at an open bar wedding from some friends of my parents. I think I was legal drinking age at the time (yeah, yeah, thats the ticket), but immigrant weddings never enforced that legality (back to the alcohol in moderate quantities thing as a kid). I have no idea how many I drank, as the busboys kept clearing the table, I also conscripted my parents to start bringing me bottles when I couldn’t walk very straight anymore. I told them from the start I was going to see just how far I could push myself. Didn’t do too badly, got a serious buzz going, kept it all down but pissed like a horse the entire evening. I don’t have any bad memories of the next morning except the doghair. So hooray for underage moderate amounts to toughen you up and get you ready for college bar bets.
Steven Adams says
I think it was simple Bud Light for me. Out at a party at a friend’s cabin in Pleasants County in 2000.
Steven, are you from Pleasant’s County????? Even though I am Left Coast born, St. Marys is my true home!
Was 15 and working at bob Evans. No cans or
Bottles went straight for the keg. House party!
Should have been printed on the keg “ehhh, don’t drink
More than four if you are under 16. Got a ride
Home after twelve beers and immediately piled
On parents carpeted stairs. Branded a problem
Child right away.
Sorry seems like haiku. iPod capitalizes first
Thanks for all the condolences for my mom guys and
Girls. Still mad that “gods wife” got yanked away
So quickly, but getting past it. She was my best
Bill in WV says
LOL! I left a solid, continental shelf-looking pile of puke next to my face in my bed after a night of keg swigggin’. I think I just lifted it off the pillow in one piece and threw it in the trash can. Good times !!
There might be something wrong with me. I started on 101 Turkey my sophomore year. Ho-made sangria was our “lite” thing to drink, not beer.
Bill in WV says
Good Lord man, you started ALMOST at the top !!!
Drinking beer at home was a common occurrence. I probably had my first ‘tumbler’ of beer at 9 or 10 years old.
First ‘puking’ drunk 13 or 14 (9th grade) on homemade wine.
First purchased of a case of beer at 17. But I cheated a bit. I use to carry 16 OZ PBR cases for my grandfather from the local beer distributor to his house 6 blocks away. One day I just walked in and ordered as if my grandfather was right behind me. The guy working the register never flinch, questioned or cared.
I also started by raiding the parents’ liquor cabinet for wild turkey.But growing up in the NY metro area, it was Genesee Cream Ale for my first beer. I assumed it was everyone’s.
Swami Bologna says
In the Philadelphia region, too, in the ’70s, Genny Cream was the “go-to” beer for us high-schoolers. Gennessee certainly wasn’t local to us, being brewed in upstate New York. But I guess they had a stranglehold on Northeast U.S. teenagers, for some reason. Maybe ’cause kids expect it to taste more like Cream Soda than beer, given the name.
Ozzie Bucco says
As a youngster, I would occasionally take a sip of the quart of Ballantine Ale that my father used to nurse on. I liked that taste right from the beginning.
The first time I drank multiple beers in earnest was at age 15. A group of us got an 18-year-old friend to buy us each a six-pack of Colt 45 malt liquor. Somebody’s parents were out for the night, so their house became Colt 45 Central.
Over the course of the evening I put away five cans. I remember lying down in the backyard for a bit until the puking started. Then it was a nonstop heave ho for the rest of the night.
I came home and fell asleep on the bathroom floor. Of course I denied everything.
This is my bathroom, not your bedroom!
I don’t recall my first drink, since I grew up in one of those “permissive” households. The first drink I PURCHASED was some sort of beer – legal, because I had just turned 18. It was for the occasion of a Loggins and Messina concert in the summer of 1976. I downed a couple in the parking lot, then filled up my old Boy Scout canteen for the show with as much as it would take (no bottles or cans allowed).
My dad always had Rheingold around because they sponsored the Mets. My mom would usually pick up whatever was on sale that week.
In college, Genny Cream was the tipple of choice. It was the best of the cheap beers, or the cheapest of the good beers depending on your perspective. $2.38 a six-pack at the Price Chopper on Hoosick St.
I know Ballantine and Rheingold are gone. Do they still make Schaefer? I heard it’s the one beer to have when you’re having more than one.
I drank my first beer when I was 36. I was breastfeeding and desperate to increase my milk supply. Beer is an old home remedy for that, so I bought a six pack of Yuengling (thanks to Jeff for the recommendation). I don’t think it really helped, and I still don’t care for beer. My first drink was in college.
I have never tasted beer or had an alcohol beverage in my life and I am closing in on 50. No interest whatsoever in trying any of it, either. My husband prefers dark (dunkel?) German beer…the imported thick almost black stuff. He acquired a taste for it while living over there. When we can’t find any of that locally, since it takes months to restock, he has discovered Deschuttes (sp?) Obsidian Stout to tide him over.
Stephanie…I”m a fan of Pitch Black IPA by Widmer Brothers. I’ve only had it “On Tap” and not bottled but it’s a fave of mine. I like the Obsidian Stout too but I’d pick PBI as my go-to.
****oops…meant to send this along for your husband to check out…or anybody else for that matter…-d
We are going to Westside Liquor to find this and will let you know if we did and my husband thanks you for the suggestion!
Deschutes is awesome. Mirror Pond IPA FTW. Wish I could get it this close to the Atlantic.
I agree chill…Mirror Pond is Da-Shit as an IPA, but…”I don’t always go black…but when I do….I go Pitch Black.”
One gallon glass jug of some wretched swill called “Canadian Ace”. And that’s all I got to say about that.
There has GOT to be some wicked stories following that escapade,
Bill in WV says
Doug, we probably drank 100 gallons of Canadian Ace in about a 2-3 year period. And, it was sold back in the day when the gallon was actual GLASS! Good God, how I never lacerated an artery is beyond comprehension. I do remember one Saturday morning, getting up and looking out the front window of the house, and my dad removing a brown bag from the back seat of the car and pulling out an empty “Ace”. He didn’t get pissed, just calmly said “well, you won’t be driving for the rest of the summer”, and that was that.
Never bought a beer until I was 19…after Air Force Basic Training, put into “Casual” status until a slot in my real training school opened up. Sweep floors, pick up trash, go to lunch where they said our limit was two beers. Yeah, good luck with THAT Sarge!
However, my first beer was when I was 11 years old in the Summer before 7th grade. Hanging out with my friend Ron. He suggested we go a mile down the hill and buy a case of Rainier beer at the Avondale store.. We walked down, and the first guy we approached bought a case of beer for a couple of 11 year old boys.
We lugged our bounty up the hill. hiding whenever a car passed.. We finally reached his house and began to drink. It was awful at the start, then became surprisingly good…until yjr 11 beer when I went out to the backyard puking my guts out for the rest of the night. Ron’s 16 year old brother and his best friend, same age, consumed the few leftovers. Surprisingly or not, these two 14 year olds were in the same grade as Ron and I…and not doing well, I might add.
And the ending to this story, I didn’t drink another beer until I was 19. My friend Ron, on the other hand, died in a single vehicle car crash when he was 19….alcohol was a factor.
Spring day in East Tennessee, cool and sunny, 1976. Quart bottle of Miller, we climbed into the loft of an old barn and hung our feet off the edge. I cannot relate how wonderful this memory is.
That’s not a real memory, that’s a TV commercial!
No Shit, youre right. Thinking back it was a carbon copy of the miller ads of the day. Underage girls in cut off shorts, swinging their feet and listening to the car radio. Zoom in to the quart bottle in their hands…..”Miller Beeeer “..P.S We called it pussy beer because it was so sweet.
I was allowed a sip or two of beer at home when I was a kid. I think the first time I got drunk was at my cousins’ house. In the back of her development was what we called “The Field” where all the kids hung. I remember a skinny black guy named Bennie hoisting a fulll keg over a stream. He was funny as hell. Everything started out fun and boisterous until my sister left to make out with some dude. She was gone forever and I really thought my aunt would break our asses so I went on a crying jag.
So we’re in France and I have a few beers. Next thing I know I’m riding a bike. BAM something hits me on the side of the head. A tree? A sign? No it was the ground.
I also recall my first “drink” – that vile swill called “Tango” – anyone remember that? It was supposed to be akin to a screwdriver but the orange they used was well, like Tang. Disgusting rot gut.
And I remember a spell where we’d get those “Cocktails For Two” in assorted varieties. More rot gut.
Gordion Knott says
15, Schlitz Malt Liquor. Graduated to Mickey’s Malt Liquor the following year. Typical drinking sesh: 8 Mickeys. (An amount that would lay me out for a week if I drank it today).
For some reason, the extra 1% of alcohol in the malt liquors made me feel like I was getting more bang for the buck, so I continued in this vein, despite the godawful taste of the products.
The international shelf was limited to a single brand–Heineken, tasting raw and vegetable-y after six months at sea. Not a craft beer in sight. If the grocers then carried the craft beer selection that they do today, I would have drank the totality of my college tuition in ten days.
I walk by the craft beer section today and swoon. Double IPAs at 7.4% ABV or higher, with luscious “notes” of orange and cinnamon (as they put it on Beer Advisor). Rich, velvety stouts; Belgian ales; 12% ABV brandywines that will knock you right on your ass.
Fuuuuuck. Put me in a time machine. I would have killed for one of these back in the day.
When I was little, my mother would drag us to visit our grandma in New Jersey. We hated it. Grandma was a bit on the uppity side with her 2-piece skirt and jacket, tons of costume jewerly, white glives, and hair piece. Whether she was going out for the day or sitting in the house watching “her stories” and knitting, she was dressed to kill. When we’d visit grandma, my mother and 2 others would play cards all day. Grandma sipped Budweiser out of the can like an old man at a bar. She’d always ask me to fetch it for her out of the fridge and allowed me to pop the top and take the first sip of every can. And every beer drinker knows the first sip out of an ice cold beer is heavenly. Especially to an 8 year old.
I like how grandma is so prim and proper, swillin’ Bud out the can with her fancy glives.
And that’s exactly how I have always remembered her!
Bill in WV says
I was gonna say….classy !!
The 4th Stooge says
First taste of beer? Budweiser, 1978-ish. The following 33 years of no Budweiser (I live in Budweiser, MO) is proof that 3 year olds have good taste, because I didn’t drink any Busch products for decades after that. The next was a case of Bud Light that I drank because I didn’t want to drink up all my Diet Coke during a Three’s Company marathon. I figured that beer would make the show funny. It did not. Not only was I not buzzed, I was not amused. Should’ve been a Three Stooges marathon instead–at least if I have to be sober, I may as well laugh.
Bud Light sucks! How can you down 4 cans and not get buzzed?!
So, I had my clearence renewal investigation interview today. I guess I probably should’nt have used The WVSR as a reference.
Rat Bastard says
Grandpap gave me my first sip of beer when I was about 6. I was mesmerized by the forbidden beverage. We had an out of the way roadhouse run by a 90 year old man close by, so the first “proper” (at a bar) beer was there at age 16. I’d been drunk many times, though, by that point.
2 Weeks before my 21 Birth Day @ The Skellar @PSU– Weak I know– made up for