Thursday, 10 September 2015

Blame it on Jackie O

There's one thing that bothers me about this whole alcohol dependency thing.

Why me?

And yes, the obvious answer is "why not me?" Why should I be so special that I shouldn't stub my toe on a few of life's stumbling blocks....but I am fixated on "where did my Wine Bitchery come from?"

The debate (mostly in my head) goes like this :

Why am I an alcoholic? There aren't any other alcoholics in the family....that I know of ! Am I the token drunk? Does every family get one? If so, why is it me? Why not Auntie Beryl?

I really struggle with the whole "Alcoholism is Genetic" stance, because like every other "nature v nurture" debate, it raises far more questions than it answers. And for every piece of research that links alcoholism to genetic make-up, there is another study that will de-bunk the theory.

So here's my Theory.

My theory is that for me, and for many other women of my generation, drinking is normal. It's perfectly normal to pour a chilled glass of wine the minute we walk through the door in the evening, it's normal to drink wine in the afternoon with friends, it's normal to drink alone in the evening while watching the TV, when you go to your Book Club evenings, when you meet a friend after work, when you get together with other mums at a play date. It's NORMAL !!

But when did it GET normal? When was the Tipping Point?

A generation ago, it wasn't normal. My grandmother only drank a small sherry at Christmas, or at a very special celebration. My mother very rarely drank anything, until the last couple of decades, when she did take a liking to wine, and now it's perfectly normal for her to have a glass or two in the evenings. But she NEVER drinks alone, and NEVER in the afternoon.

So how did we get here?

I did some research. (I googled).

Turns out that until the 1960's, wine was considered ( In America, and by association, I include Canada and the UK) to be the drink of lowlifes. "Winos". (Or the French). It wasn't considered to be sophisticated, and as "ladies" did not drink hard liquor, or beer, there really wasn't an alcoholic beverage that was a normal option for a girl to drink!

All this changed in 1962.

The young glamorous bride of John Kennedy was disrupting the stuffy atmosphere of the White House and imprinting her own elegant style, not only on that iconic symbol of American pride, but also on the psyche of the American public, particularly the American Housewife who was trying to emulate Jackie's style and panache - her clothes, her make-up, her shoes..........and her household.

Jackie Kennedy hosted a televised tour of the White House, and during the walk through, the cameras panned round her dining table, set with beautiful cutlery and china.....and crystal wine glasses...

It was at that moment (according to Google) that WINE became fashionable. Finally a Drink for the Ladies!!

Of course it took another decade or so, and some inspired marketing for us to get here....certainly in the UK we suffered through German Liebfraumilch, Blue Nun, and Black Tower, before we grudgingly conceded that the French were good at something, and then, of course came the fruity upstarts from California.

All of that change coincided with some bra burning and Gloria Steinem, and voila - we can drink the lads under the table! Hurrah for us and our Normal Drinking!

We need another Tipping Point.

We need the elegance and style of Jackie Kennedy Onassis to disrupt the status quo again.

We need "Sober" to be fashionable.

We need Sobriety to be the new normal. 

P.S. I have no hard feelings towards Jackie Kennedy. In fact, I was named after her. As well as no other drunkard women in my family, there are no other "Jacquelines". Apparently my mother loved Jackie's style and her name, so I got it. The name, sadly not the style.




  1. I agree with you.
    Excessive drinking has become normalized and accepted, if not encouraged.
    I hope the next generation finds more to do with their time than binge drink.
    Sometimes I think I missed out on a lot. So I'm making up for it now!

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  3. Here! Here! I think when women joined men in the work place we thought we needed to join them in the bar too. Here's what I find refreshing, we as women see a need to reverse the trend, we see how it has been detrimental to us and our children, whereas you won't find men standing up and saying, "Alright, boys time to quit the drinking, let's turn it around."
    Now, the task is to convince our drinking friends. Mr. Sponsor Pants posted a quote from Anne Lamotte today, "Lighthouses don't go running all over an island looking for boats to save, they just stand there shining."
    Shine on!

    1. My husband quit drinking. You are right, men definitely don't obsess over the impact their drinking has on others like women do.

      But sober, he is the first to admit he was missing out on so much family life. He has the same clarity of sobriety. Which is the real miracle.

  4. Interesting. For some reason I thought that wine was always fashionable to drink. But what do I know?
    One of my friends suddenly jumped on the sobriety wagon. He is ten years younger then me. Former athlete. Opened a cafe that serves fresh food (from farm to a table concept) and no alcohol. He used to drink and get drunk on occassion. Never was dependent on a drink. Now he decided that he needs to set an example for his customers. So he stopped drinking. I felt jealous that he was able to do it so elegantly and easily. And here is me... Struggling and failing.

    1. You only fail if you give up trying. We're all here with you xx

    2. Perhaps you only see the easy elegant side. The hard, anxious, overwhelming side is often hidden.

    3. It took me a year to finally let go of the romance I had connected to wine and and drinking.
      I always have to keep the "icky stuff" in my mind, to help remind me, of all the unromantic things about drinking for me.

  5. Ha! Thanks for sharing that interesting piece about Jackie's White House. I had no idea.
    I remember back in the early 90's when daytime tv talk show hosts started openly joking about having a glass/bottle of wine to relax. It was often very subtle, but I recall thinking, Hey, this must be normal. This must be okay. You now have permission!

    I will still throw some blame at MFK Fisher for my own romanticizing/normalizing.

    Have a great weekend,

  6. Maybe it's just a fad, like that fricking kale that everyone's trying to get me to eat. I think Western pop culture has been condoning (if not promoting) drinking "whenever" in the last 15 years or so. Booze is becoming a huge enterprise, here in the Salem/Portland area there more craft breweries per capita than any place in the world, people in rural areas are turning their 2 acre plots into vineyards, and craft distilleries are all over the state. They have TEQUILA TASTING down at my local liquor store, if you can imagine. I mean they did, I haven't attended recently:)

    1. I know - we have friends in Olympia who have just got a license to produce and sell 60,000 gallons of moonshine from their garage. And you can't move for another small brewery starting up on Vancouver Island, with a kitsch name, like "Laughing Llama" or "Snoring Asshole Real Ale" (I made those up)

    2. OMG, no shit! Hahahhahah!! Between that and the ubiquity of bacon-- bacon and booze. I like Olympia, it's cute. It has a surprisingly mod-hipster downtown.

  7. That's what makes giving up so hard. It's everywhere and totally normalised. Facebook (I know, I know!) is full of wine time/gin time pictures/statements/photos/anecdotes... I wonder sometimes where it's all going? People (women) are drinking sooooo much more than 10 or 20 years ago. What will things be lime in the next 10 or 20 years???

    1. I know what you mean about facebook, all those "cute" pictures of wine glass holders for the shower.....scary stuff!