It Was All in the Genes and the Jeans, Part 1

Just keep telling yourself, "You can pull this off, Lorna. Smile and fake it if you have to. The show must go on!"

Lorna’s coming-of-age exploits continue. How does she maintain her Good-Girl reputation among adults, get and keep attention from boys, stay at the top of her academic game, and cope with her fears of damnation should she fail at anything?

I didn’t know it then, but I came from a family who liked to booze it up. You’d think I’d have noticed something was different from Beaver Cleaver’s family or the Waltons. None of them served little kids wine at Sunday meals or cured a cold with shots of brandy. I don’t remember Mr. Cleaver sharing a cold Topper beer with the Beav like my step-grandfather regularly did with me.  And that was just the obvious drinking. My mom spiked her fruited Jello salads to “preserve the freshness of the fruit.” Who knows where else liquor appeared in my weekly diet.

Don't forget the brandy to soothe those sore gums while teething...

Alcohol fed the roots of both sides of my family tree.  Alcoholics didn’t exist back then.  “Drunks” were disliked or lower class people and “drinkers” were respected members of society, whether you liked them or not. My dad, who couldn’t keep any job long enough to have a real career before he killed himself, was a “drunk.” His dad was a church-going, family-abusing dentist. He was a “drinker.”

My mother’s mother was Finnish, a people known for three things: drinking, stoicism and dancing. These traits kind of feed into each other during cold, dark days. How? I’m not sure, but somebody should be studying them to find out. And my mom’s real father was French. Need I say more?

I could be related to her...well, I could.

I, like my ancestors, took to alcohol like a weed to Miracle-Gro. No one knew because I’m Scorpio and Scorpios are legendary for being secretive. My family knew I drank the wine, brandy or beer easily; they just didn’t know how much I enjoyed my little-girl buzz.

I was about 10 when I got my first cravings. Opportunities to satisfy my alcohol-tooth came on weekends. When I started dating my second boyfriend at 16, my drinking ratcheted up dramatically. They discovered alcoholism by the early 1970s. That’s when my career as bon a fide alcoholic began.

The more things change... Scary, huh?

I had a lot of pressure to deal with; alcohol was my liquid mini-vacation. My sisters had their own pressures, but they never lusted after alcohol like I did. They didn’t have light blonde hair like I did, either. I was sure there was a connection. Someone should study that, too.

All pictures of me back then are badly faded Poloroids. This will have to suffice. It's a good likeness.

I blame sex for my wanton drunkenness. It comes down to scientific equations:

Boyfriend (intending to get into my jeans) + Good Girl (intending to stay in my jeans) = Celibate/Sad Boyfriend

Boyfriend (same intent) + Alcohol + Drunk Good Girl (whoo-hoo!) = Happy/Satisfied Boyfriend

The only way I could bring myself out of my jeans was to get good and hammered (admittedly, a poor choice of words). I’m told I was a very hot date. Too bad I wasn’t there to enjoy it.

My grades never faltered. Even when my family wondered why their booze tasted watered-down, they never suspected me. I was Lorna, their Good Girl. My reputation was 100 proof.

How long could Lorna cope with living a lie? You’d be surprised…

~ by Lorna's Voice on July 14, 2011.

16 Responses to “It Was All in the Genes and the Jeans, Part 1”

  1. Thanks for the feedback, Ray. That balance was tough to manage. I’m working on the next installment and I’m hoping I can stay on that tightrope…

  2. Lorna, I think you have the perfect amount of humor in the story. I think back to my youth and say, wow that hit home. Now that’s scary!

  3. Thanks so much for the affirmation that what I’m aiming for is at least hitting close to the target!

  4. Yes, but don’t you find that it’s hard to remember the details? I guess that’s where creative license comes in handy…

  5. I have had the odd chat with alchohol in my past and some of the conversations have been quite amusing.

  6. Absolutely … you are succeeding “BIG TIME”. ~~~~ : – )

  7. Aurora, coming from you–so prolific and writerly–I take this as a high complement, indeed. Finding the right balance of tone for this phase of the story was a challenge for me. It kept me from writing it for a long time. Insterestingly enough, blogging has helped me. I found that rascally voice I thought I lost for a while, so I am able to approach the heavier issues now with a lighter touch. Well, at least that’s what a few of you have been telling me.

    This memoir may very well get written!

  8. I remember that trick well–and thinking that I was being both original and clever. So much for either, eh? Thanks for your comment!

  9. Good. That’s what I was aiming for. Thanks for the affirmation, Al!

  10. You are doing a beautiful job of sharing your life. Your work reads as very balanced, unlike mine which can get dark and/or heavy handed thanks to my warped inner humor, lol. Love reading about your “coming of age” and wanton drunkenness… told tastefully and comically with just enough information to keep us coming back for more. Thanks!

  11. I wouldn’t worry much about this being too heavy for us. This kind of experience is epidemic and something any of us reading this has had first hand knowledge of. Some more than others.

    It’s the way you spin a yarn that’s important and you do it so well. I suspect you’re making a lot of us feel OK about some things that have happened in our own lives.

    Good stuff!

  12. So funny. My parents though they were smart by hiding the liquor bottles above the fridge cabinet. I would fill the vodka bottle back up with water so they would not notice the slowly decreasing level of alcohol in the bottle..That was my trick.

  13. It’s easy to be funny about my little kid foibles. It’s much harder to be light-hearted about these heavier, but real episodes that make up the journey of my life. I was wondering if you found this piece punctuated with enough humor to make it fit with the other stories. I’m trying to put all the pieces of this memoir together in some cohherent way.

    Thanks for the commenting and being interested enough in my life to want to read more!

  14. So I surprised you, eh? I surprised a lot of people, including myself. But this is a story of turning obstacles into opportunities. I may have gotten lost (the meaning of my name), but the only way to find yourself is to lose yourself, right? I’m trying to write about a very serious topic in a light-hearted way. Am I succeeding?

  15. OMG …. what is happening here. I had so much faith in your good girl image. It is nothing but a mirage … BUT …. oh, so saucy … please continue…!!!

    Toodles, Isadora

    P.S. I love the line – “Opportunities to satisfy my alcohol-tooth , etc.” – hilarious.

  16. Everyday, every post, I’m more amazed. Can’t wait for the next installment.

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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