No Fire Water, Please


My brother used to play his guitar and sing one particular song that made everyone laugh. I was too young at the time to appreciate the message.
Bottle of wine,
Fruit of the vine.
When you gonna let me get sober?

I still remember my first legal glass of wine like it was yesterday. Back in the early 70’s, sitting in the living room of their Omaha apartment, my brother and his wife offered me a big glass of red wine. My eyes opened wide. That was a lot of wine, a whole glass. But I started drinking it and discovered something that plagues me to this day. I love wine. Wine does not love me. A few sips into the glass and I was rip-snortin’ drunk, and quickly became embarrassed, tongue-tied, dizzy, and loopy. It didn’t even taste that great. It was only later, in college, that I learned I prefer white wine but in a glass the size of a thimble.

Supposedly there is Canadian (Nova Scotia) Indian blood in my genes. I’m here to tell you that one racial bias is true, or at least for me. Indians can’t hold their fire water.

Over the years I’ve been the party pooper because I didn’t want to drink. In fact, I’ve had songs sung to me.
Every party has a pooper,
That’s why we invited you-
Party pooper! Party Pooper!

Or if I did drink I’ve been the entertainment, “You’re slurring your words. Say that again. Hey guys, listen to her.” People would sit and laugh at me try to say a word like purple, which came out sounding like prrrpll.

Not having a tolerance for alcohol guarantees not being asked to many parties. Friends suggest cutting the wine with soda and ice cubes but that doesn’t help. My body immediately filters out the fermented grape molecules, sending them right to my head, erasing my ability to walk and talk. Party over.

Dating wasn’t as much fun as it should have been because of my low tolerance for booze. Men would laugh when I said I couldn’t hold my liquor, thinking no doubt that the evening was going to end in a night of wild passion. Except one drink and I giggled and soon fell asleep, passed out. Date over.

One morning I’d see my college friends and they’d all be hung over, telling stories of hours of drinking, laughing and dancing. The grape molecules from the wine the night before, were still twirling around in my brain even the next morning when I woke up. It wasn’t until about 4:00 p.m., when everyone was getting ready for another night of frivolity, that I’d have my own hangover. Of course, no one believed that anyone could wake up drunk and I never submitted myself to a breathalyzer so I couldn’t prove why the morning after drinking wine I was happy, happy, happy.

In my fantasy world I’d visit a reservation and party with a tribe of fellow Indians. Like kindred spirits, we’d have four ounces of wine, laugh and dance and then all crash on a bed of leaves and feathers. Alas, in reality I’m unable to keep up with normal people who can have an aperitif, followed by a couple of glasses of wine with dinner and ending the night with a shot or two of liqueur.  Me?  After the aperitif I’m curled up under the table with the dog.

Eh. There are worse burdens in life. Maybe I’d just better stick to a caffeine buzz. Because let’s face it. I’ll never be the life of the party.

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