I was sixteen, which is probably shockingly late by today’s standards. I was with Rocky and Mike, in Rocky’s li’l blue car, probably blasting a Kiss kassette. We were planning to go to a high school basketball game, and somehow got it into our minds to try to buy beer instead.
Yeah right, I thought, that’s about as likely as seeing a set of three-dimensional female breasts tonight. But the conversation wouldn’t die and, in fact, started to build momentum.
In retrospect, I realize I was conned. Rocky, especially, insisted I looked the oldest and should be the one to go into the store. It’s the same tactic Toney uses, when she doesn’t want to make a salad for dinner. “You do it so much better,” she says. Heh.
But I allowed myself to be manipulated by my “friends” that night, and walked into Wagner’s Market in Dunbar, with terror sweat rolling down my back. I was certain I’d be beaten, arrested, beaten again, then sodomized.
The drinking age was 18 at that point, so I was a full two years early. Sweet Jesus…
The guy behind the counter couldn’t have been much older than 20 himself, which I considered a positive. When I came through the door he greeted me with a “Hey, man!” So he was both young and friendly… He probably won’t call the cops, I assured myself. Worst case: I’ll leave empty-handed, and be mocked by Rocky and Mike for half an hour.
This was during the days of 3.2 beer, so there wasn’t much to choose from. It was mostly just Anheuser-Busch and Miller products. But what did I know about it, anyway? I grabbed a six-pack of Miller High Life in bottles, took a deep breath, and walked to the counter.
“Anything else?” the guy said, as he started ringing up my purchase. Unbelievable! I handed him the money with a clammy shaking claw, and got the hell out of there before he realized his error.
“You only got six?!” Rocky hollered when I returned to the car. It was amazing, simply amazing. Instead of celebrating my earth-shattering victory, he wanted me to go back inside and do it over again. I told him to slam it up his ass, and reminded him he could buy it, if he wanted more. He swallowed hard, and said, “Yeah, six will probably be enough.”
We drove around the streets of Dunbar, and I tasted beer for the first time in my life. The first few sips were difficult, but I quickly adjusted. And by the time we reached the halfway point of our second bottles, I told Rocky to return to Wagner’s. I was going back in!
The guy looked at me sideways this time, but didn’t give me any problem. So we went to the high school, parked out near the track, and polished off the second six-pack.
Then we went to the basketball game, and I experienced for the first time how alcohol can transform an otherwise humdrum night, into something exciting and dangerous. It was that most slippery of slopes.
And I have much more I wanted to tell you on this subject, including the story of my first encounter with hard liquor, but I’ll have to get to it tomorrow. I’m all out of time here.
Please use the comments section to tell us about your first alcoholic beverage, and I’ll see ya next time.
And, by the way, here’s Rocky “hanging out” in front of Wagner’s Market, a few years later. Yeah, who the hell knows?
I was 15 when I had my first beer. We told my friends mom we were going to “wash” our hair with it. We sat on the tub drinking them down and then ran our hair under the water. A year later her mom was making us daiquiries when I spent the night and buying us cigarettes.
Willie Williams says
Drinking was no big issue when i was a kid. A beer at 10 on the porch with Dad on a hot night happened every now and then. First real drunk was around 13 when I played some football with my older brother and his friends who were all just out of high school.
He drove my ass home where I filled up the kitchen sink with puke. Dad made him clean it up.
Okay…hope y’all are sitting down for this one…
I am 43 years old and have NOT tasted alcohol to this day. No, I am not a Mormon or anything.
I LOOK like I am only about 30 (maybe) and I am thinking there is some corollation here???
Stephanie: Scientific experiment on behalf of the: WSVR: pound back a forty pounder tonight look in the mirror in the morning & see if you look 43!
@Pagan: Truth be told I like Red Cap although I haven’t had any since Molson bought a controlling interest in Brick Brewing Co. My all time favourite local (Ontario) beer is Creemore (www.creemoresprings.com/).
I wrote a brief guide to Ontario beer for Jeff about a year ago, which he posted to the site (I was credited as “North of the Border Chris”). If you can find it you will see I have nothing but contempt for most Molson beer, but have a special hatred for Golden and OV.
Here’s a contrary data point: I’m 50 and I look 35. The difference is that I’ve been drinking since the mid-1970s, and in fact don’t remember my first Adult Beverage. I think there is a correlation here. I’d love to stay and chat, but I have to go get myself another Highland Park. TTFN.
tyro: Used to leave work & hit airport road all the way to creemore & pick up a case on the way to blue Mountain! then the bad guys bought them out & introduced lager & other abnormalities! that was O.K. until they messed with the classic Creemore bottle! that was just wrong!
So drinking is directly tied in to how old you look?
I drink A LOT and you’ve all seen a picture of me.
I don’t think I look like an old goat or anything so I’ll keep drinking.
Why look young if you’re not having any damn fun?
Like quite a few here, dear old dad often allowed me to have a sip of his beer when I was a kid. I was also allowed a small glass of wine or sherry for special family occasions. Perhaps why I don’t go out and get shitfaced with appalling regularity. That and my blinkered digestive tract won’t have it.
Unfortunately I don’t really recall the first real drunken experience. It could be this one teenage party I was at populated by punk and goth kids (long before the days of “emo”). I remember I was buzzed enough not to feel it too much when a fat Robert Smith lookalike fell on me. Ugh. I don’t really miss the eighties.
Pagan: In 94 I was managing a micro brewery in London. Creemore had just upgraded their bottling line and I almost had our owners convinced to buy their old one. The drawback was it was designed to work with Creemore’s unique bottles, which the owners weren’t too keen on.
Try not to feel too bad about the Molson’s buyout. Without it Creemore would have gone under. In the early 90’s there were almost 40 micros in Southern Ontario. I believe the only ones left are the ones that formed partnerships with larger breweries.
FYI: They changed to the standard long neck as a condition of selling through Brewers Retail. If a brewery uses non-standard packaging it costs more.
Joey Jo Jo says
Supposedly, when I was about 3, I drank my dad’s Jack and Coke when he turned his back, and passed out for hours.
I think my first drink was something called “malt duck”. Is that a real memory or a real drink? I have no idea. I’ve been drunk for about 20 years now, almost without interruption.
When I lived outside of Waco, TX in a small town called “Axtell” the man at the feed store would sell us beer. He’d always put it in an empty feed bag and he’d say, “If anyone catches you with this you tell them that a black guy in Bellmead bought it for you.” He always wanted to pin it on an imaginary black guy. I don’t know why it had to be such an elaborate story. There was NOBODY around. I think the population of that town was about five, and none of them were black.
Lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine. Helloooo Stephanie! wink wink.
No special story to tell but my dad’s old saying is, “Ain’t nothing wrong with a cold beer on a hot day”, hence his retirement to Florida.
Probably a big factor for me living in San Antonio. If it isn’t a hundred degrees outside, I turn on the heater and grab a beer anyway.
11; it was a 16oz Miller. I chugged it in my cousins basement. Good times!
Son of Sam says
Jason I have family in West.
First taste who knows. First drunk my brother was coming back from “Nam. My cousins and I were sleeping out and got puking drunk on home made brandy. I was 11. No one said a word about it and so it continued for another 40 years.
West is a wonderful little town. I go there for Kolaches and Nemechek Brothers Sausage. We got drunk with Willie Nelson once at Wolf’s bar.
Son of Sam says
Cool my Aunt work at Heitmillers.(sp) Had all the ATF guy’s during Koresh’s little picnic eating there and telling stories.
I couldn’t get home during the Koresh debacle. They had the road closed off. I have pictures of a tank turning around in the front yard. They played music all night long, which kept me awake.
Shelly in St. Louis says
When I was a toddler my parents owned a bar. I used to go there in the afternoons and play on the piano & drums that were setup for the band. I seem to remember my dad letting me drink the foam off the top of his beer around age 3! Good times!
Oh I LOVED a cold Bud Light as a child. My dad would let me have a sip from his newly opened can when I would run and get it for him. Seems like this was not uncommon in the 60’s and 70’s from the comments. My mother, a nurse, didn’t approve of course especially after I threw up one night and I heard her yell to my dad in the other room “Tim her puke smells like beer!”. I guess dad lost track of my “sips” and he was watching an especially good baseball game. Gotta love dads for their laid back style.
And when my husband and I were in our last two years of high school (late eighties) his parents would let him host parties in his basement, beer permitted, as long as everyone spent the night (I slept upstairs in his sister’s room). Occasionally he’d even get a keg. And we could smoke (cigarettes) freely as both his parents were smokers. Simply amazing. It was like 1952 over there, EVERYONE smoked. And they were regular middle class people. Can you imagine that happening now?
I never really have been a big drinker over the years so I guess no harm done. Will we be letting our teenagers host keg parties in our basement? HELL no.
And after all that when my husband’s dad found a tiny bit of weed stashed in the basement (fast forward to our college days) he bitched him out about his top secret military status (I guess all military people have some sort of “status” for secrets) being taken away if “they” ever found out about pot being in his home. My husband thought that was funny and still does.
Cindi K in VA says
Shelley in St. Louis-what was the name and location of the bar your family owned in St.. Louis? Just curious….
Cindi K in VA says
Jason-what does WACO stand for? “‘W’e ‘A’in’t ‘C’ommin ‘O’ut” hahahahhahaha