I was at a house party Saturday night in Flint: the plus-one of my friend Annie. The party took place on a quiet street near the Cultural Center. A selection of Flint’s intelligentsia gathered in one of those smart, well traveled homes with wall hangings and floor coverings to show for the owners’ far flung journeying – their eclectic interests.
And before you ask, “Flint intelligentsia” is not an oxymoron. Even though the world identifies Flint as the city where the water is undrinkable, it is also a college town with a healthy downtown gentrification, the long-lived Mott Foundation and the Flint Institute of Arts. I am sure these folks are tired of defending its virtues…
So, back to the party. The living room had a corner cleared to make room for a jazz ensemble. Annie said the bass player had the usual “bass face” (he was a good sport when we called him on it). “Bass face” is apparently the equivalent of “poet voice” – a sort of stentorian, overly serious, furrowed piousness. I had never heard this before, but from now on I will ferret out “bass face” in every orchestra.
Between trips to the dining room to snag several courses of food, wine and (for me) flavored Perrier, we were regaled with music. I think I was the only one who was not drinking wine. I will admit, my paradigm has not shifted so much as to ignore the drinker/non-drinker ratio in every party crowd.
There was a lot of wine. My BYO, gassy water was in the kitchen and it was a bit cumbersome to elbow to the front of the refrigerator. I politely excused myself to the friendly group that always forms around the kitchen island at a party. But, it was simple enough to fill my wine glass with the alcoholic’s drink of choice and “blend”. No one seemed to care.
Who’s the DD?
There is always a point at a party where the guests begin to say things like, “Thank God I’m not driving,” as they pour another. Or there is the genuinely, caring question, “Who’s driving?” Mind you, this was not a group who would prance with jazz hands on coffee tables, gargle cabernet or don the “kimono as art” for a giggle. But everyone was imbibing enough to worry about who would be getting behind the wheels.
Annie and I had planted ourselves in the perfect corner, near the arched entrance to the living room, close to the buffet tables. We were able to see most of the goings on and talk to just about everyone at the do. When anyone asked us who was driving, Annie said something like, “Marilyn. She used to really tie one on, but she’s drinking Perrier now. So she’s driving me home.”
It made me feel sort of heroic.
Like I was a war veteran who was now an advocate for gun control. Or, like everyone gets a quota at birth – you can have 1.000 gallons of white wine in this lifetime – and I’d used up my quota. It was so simply put. Marilyn used to drink a lot, but now she doesn’t drink at all. She can drive home after a party at midnight.
For some reason this was a revelation to me.
Putting Things into Perspective…
Putting things into the proper context makes me feel less like a preachy teetotaler or an apologetic addict. There is no need for rebellion or sarcasm either. I am just someone who has learned her lesson.
At the very end of the night, I had an interesting conversation with a woman who knows a lot about Flint. She is tapped into the ongoing restoration, the successes and the things that need to be accomplished to educate and involve Flint residents. In my drinking days, “the end of the night” conversations found me barely awake. Lipstick on my teeth, a broken glass or three, a new “enemy” or two and bored, bored, bored…
It is a revelation that I have become the designated driver, the late night conversationalist, the person who finds the joy in old friendships and new experiences…
The fact is, I used to drink a lot, but I don’t drink anymore.
Today I’m not drinking because I just don’t do that anymore.
How come you’re not drinking?