Thursday, May 15, 2014


Last month, my son turned 21 years old.

By prior arrangement, I took him out to a bar in my town for his first "legal" beer. We ended up having two pitchers between us, talking, and playing a few games of pool.

Several years ago, I did the same thing for his older sister, the only difference being that I took her to every bar in our small town. (Both of them!)

In each instance, I was pleased and honored to spend time with my kids before they went out and did whatever someone does these days when they turn "legal."

Of course, I am not so naive as to presume that my kids never had a drink beforehand (in fact I KNOW they did) hence the term "first legal drink."

I look forward to enjoying time with my daughter & son into the future, and when applicable, having a beer, some wine, or a mixed drink with them. It's nice to be able to treat them like adults now. They'll always be my kids, and I'll always be their dad, but I don't want to be running their lives for them. I figure if they want my advice, they'll ask for it.

Personally, I turned "legal" in 1984 on my 18th birthday, eight months before I went away to USAF boot camp. That was the drinking age in VA at the time. And afterward, I had privileges on military bases, and then in ND where I was stationed. There was some sort of DoD exemption if the base was within 50(?) miles of another jurisdiction where the age was lower; the idea being that we didn't want our troops driving there, getting hammered and then trying to make it back to base. In that particular instance, it was Canada.  So I've been of 100% legal age since 18.

For some reason, it occurred to me that I never once shared a drink with my dad.

Oh, I did find his stashes.  Beer & whiskey for a troubled teen, but as George Thorogood so eloquently said, "When I drink alone, I prefer to be by myself."

I won't go into my family's entire sordid past; my father was abusive to his family and we did not get along during my teen years. Yet somehow, after my departure to the USAF, we reached a de facto peace treaty, almost as if nothing had ever happened.

Despite our differences, once I turned 18, he could have said "Hey, let's have a beer and talk."  He never did.  I got married (way too young) just after High School. Not once a "Congratulations! Wanna have a drink and talk?"  Had a daughter, etc... all the times I drove thousands of miles back to VA to visit, not once... well, you get the idea. All the way up until I was almost 32 years old.  And ya know, leave the alcohol out of the equation for a second... he never once wanted to talk about what went wrong or was wrong. He just blamed everyone else.

I suppose the bad stuff never really evaporated, he never apologized, and I didn't really yearn for that bond. I tolerated him because he was with my mother.

I really don't lament that lack of bond, I was just noting how different my relationship with my own son & daughter are. Granted, we've had our rocky times, but overall, I think we're doing OK.

I guess if there is one thing I regret about not having that drink with my father, it is this:  Right now, I'm pretty sure I could drink his ass under the table. Dubious bragging rights, I know. But it would give me great personal satisfaction to put a bottle of bourbon between us, drink and drink some more, then watch as he fell out of his wheel chair.

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