The old “Cheers” theme song, set in the neighborhood bar, crooned, “Sometimes you wanna go where everyone knows your name…” I guess that is what most people want, but I had an interesting experience this weekend. I went to a family party for the high school graduation of my cousin’s son. The lovely town of Grand Blanc, teenagers with requisites like golf courses in the back yard, catered “comfort food” and party tents. Boys in preppie pink madras playing corn-hole on the lawn and girls in tight white jeans looking occasionally sullen…
I should be closer to my first cousins (and they should know all about me I suppose), but I’ve been afar and they have all been in Michigan, plugging away at important jobs and amassing lake houses and pontoon boats.
Anyway, my first cousins are a huge, rollicking group who always invite the meager remains of my dad’s next of kin to their milestone parties. It is fun to sit on a lawn chair with a lap full of carbohydrates and watch for the face of my father, planted on a woman or a child walking by. I will ask my mother, “Who is that?” and it’s always something like, “That’s Colleen’s youngest.” The family resemblance topped with ink black hair, shorter, or a plumper version.
There has been alcoholism in this family. They are a hard drinking bunch. But when I arrived and was greeted with the usual long-lost haleness, Maureen pointed to a massive Yeti and said blandly, “The wine’s in there. And there’s water and some lemonade on the table. Beer’s over there in the tent.”
That was it. And I realized that I am usually with people who know about my struggle with alcohol: who know to tiptoe and be watchful, or to make a joke to clear the air (“Don’t open that Pandora’s box Mare – there’s wine in there!”).
Everyone Knows My Name AND My Addiction
It was incredibly freeing to have my cousin treat me like someone who could be trusted around a four-foot long cooler filled with hooch. I never thought about it before, but I usually go where everyone knows my name and my addiction. It was so normal to feel like someone who had just decided not to drink that night – but if I wanted to have a glass of wine to sip on, I could.
Oh stop – I know I can’t, but they didn’t know that. And it was fun to pretend. Sing it with me, “Sometimes you wanna go where no one knows you’re an alcoholic…”