>>> The Rollercoaster of Drama
By staff writer Simonne Cullen
April 24, 2005

As you slowly begin to reach the legal drinking age, your parents suddenly become a whole lot cooler. Well most of them do anyway. There's not so much yelling around the house, they can't ground you anymore, they can't stop you from smoking, and they certainly can't take away your TV privileges. And even though all of their original control over your life is *poof* gone, you notice that, wow, you're all getting along better. Why? Because the occasional alcohol consumption makes families functional. You could even say that alcohol puts the fun in functional.

The first time most people begin drinking with their family is on summer vacation. Whether you're taking a cruise or going camping, everything seems less complicated and a lot less hostility is floating around. You can drink. Everything is good and just in the world. Or at least on this Callahan RV where every hour is cocktail hour. But be prepared for the younger siblings to get jealous of your newfound place in the family where nothing is your fault. “Why does Sarah get to have the cool drink?” “I want a cool drink with fruit in it!” “Can I have your cherry Sarah?” “Don't give it to Liz she's being a brathead.” “I am not!” “Are so!” “Are not” “Are so!” Are not!” Jesus is this what my parents have been putting up with for the past twenty years? No wonder they drink. Someone pass me another jumbo margarita—it's the only way to drown these voices out.

“By the end of the meal your mom's slurring her words and talking shit about the family like, ‘You know Timmy, your father's an asshole.'”

I'm going to warn you that hungover parents really aren't pretty. After a night of raiding the hotel mini bar the situation isn't so much fun. Because they're not like your friends who you can bum around and watch movies all day with or hang out and sleep on the beach with. (If they were smart enough to apply to a school with a good locale.) Parents feel like shit and their bodies aren't quick enough to recuperate quickly. “I've got to just sleep. Take Sarah and Liz to a museum or something. Don't let them play in the house. Normally your father handles them on Sunday morning but he's dry heaving in the upstairs bathroom.”

Weddings are the second most common place where you and your family drink openly. But the one fallback to this situation is that someone always gets embarrassed. Believe me, if you're dad is throwing out dance moves no one has seen since the 60's, that's the least of your problems. There's nothing like watching your cousin's trying to hook you up with a groomsman you wouldn't look twice at sober, but now that you're wasted, it's a wedding, and if you squint hard enough he's kinda cute, you think would make a great story to tell your friends. And then you suddenly find yourself in the bushes of a country club making out with a guy when your cousins come out for a smoke and you have to sit there shhhing him so no one notices you're there. Yeah, like no one's going to notice all the leaves in your hair as you ungracefully reenter the grand ballroom completely disheveled.

I grew up in the South where pretty much all the stay-at-home moms started drinking at noon. I'm pretty sure that's why they all got together and organized a neighborhood carpool. One mom on the block would have to pick seven of us up in the minivan the whole week and drop us off at whoever's house they were drinking their special “Ms. Michelle's Special Iced Tea,” “Rosemary's Bloody Mary's,” or “Terry's Sangria” while lounging on the deck. The kids may not have known what made these drinks so special or why we were only allowed one sip out of our mom's glass, but we did know which mom would be carpooling us each week by how cranky she was at the community pool on Sunday afternoon.

Some students notice that parents + alcohol = meeting a whole new mother. No longer is she the woman who used to make macaroni arts and crafts with you. You sit down and have a nice lunch when she comes to visit and realize after her third Grey Goose martini straight up that you're being introduced to the repressed alcoholic mother you never knew you had. By the end of the meal she's slurring her words and talking shit about the family like, “You know Timmy, your father's an asshole.” Or, “Your brother Jimmy's a screw up. Thank god you didn't turn out like him.” Awkward. But if you're lucky you get the mom who's just drunk with laughter. You can't even get the first two words of a sentence out when she begins to giggle uncontrollably. “So there I was… (Tee hee! Hee hee!)” “Mom stop I haven't even said anything—” (Hee hee hee!) “I was standing there—” (Ha! Ha! Ha!) Oh forget it.

Then there's always the sad realization that your parents may be more popular than you are. They come to visit for a sports banquet and while everyone's getting pretty loaded at the open bar you notice that your parents are getting wasted mainly off shots. Shots that everyone else is buying them. You're seeing friends who've been screaming poverty all year pull out their wallets and buy two Jager bombs. “If that one for me Jack?” “Dude, Timmy, no way it's for your mom and me. Mrs. Camden! Get over here, we're doing shots!” This especially sucks if you're mom is hot and your dad's too drunk to protect her from your buddies that are drunkenly trying to mack on her. “Honey, this drink your roommate Jack gave me tastes like cotton candy! Yum!” You look at Jack who salutes you and then smiles with a grin normally reserved for a scouting pimp and you don't even want to know what thing he's thinking of functioning.