My very first taste of alcohol was at the house of the family that cared for me after school during the period of grade 1, 2 and 3. We couldn’t afford after-school care, so at least four days a week — after school — I was billeted out to the family home of my classmate — Damian and his massively fat, ugly mother who would whip me with a spoon for any infractions — which usually turned out to be me mimicking the anti-social psychopathy of her deadshit offspring.
Damian would play games like throwing rocks at passing cars. I just joined in. I mean — I was stuck here trying to fit in. It was a very quiet street and the game ended in spectacular disaster when the car we pelted (and I am pretty sure any rock I threw purposely missed) resulted in a very irate gentleman stopping the car and storming up to the door while we scurried under the house. That episode resulted in not just a lashing with her wooden spoon (and she had one specifically for corporal punishment) but my dad making things much worse and a lot more anti-justice.
So my dad spent a while congratulating her for her example of discipline and apologising for “my behaviour”. He then proceeded to deliver a threat that has lived with me forever. Right in front of her, in the street in front of her wretched house, perhaps attempting some symbolistic public humiliation — my dad threatened to pull down my pants in front of the police and spank me silly if this ever happened again. He didn’t ask me what happened — he just took her word.
But in “happier” times the father of this household must have got home a bit early and I rarely got to meet him. But on this occasion I remember he was drinking his beer out of a glass and he encouraged me to take a sip. Naturally I was disgusted at the taste and that was his point and he was pretty amused. But it seemed Damian was already used to the taste.
At home my dad would make me do chores incessantly. He thought it was a bit of a joke. In those days my dad had custody of me and my sister — but from 10 to 13 — it was just me and dad. My dad was good at getting me to fetch him stuff. Perhaps that’s why he suddenly got very, very fat at about 30. An example would be that when he woke up he would bang on the wall that divided our rooms and that meant I needed to bring him a coffee in bed and turn on the stereo.
Dad would drink occasionally — perhaps more so but I was oblivious. He would make me fetch it from the box of cheap cask-wine in the fridge. I remember once he asked me if he “was acting differently” and I said, “no.” And ‘no’ like it was a silly question. Now I think about it he must have been seriously wasted.
Despite all that It was an entire decade later that I tasted booze and that was despite a lot of peer-based encouragement. I was 16 and she was 15. And because we were having a very bland evening where all my charms fell on her deaf ears (which were used to much more rock n roll activity) I suggested we get ‘drunk’. I didn’t know what that meant or really cared — I just wanted to engage with this girl I was utterly obsessed with. Even though she was a whole year younger than me, at 15 she looked like a woman while I looked like a boy. And this process accentuated that. She waltzed into the bottle-o and emerged with a massive bottle of rum, while I slunk into the 7-11 and emerged with a humble bottle of coke.
That was where I sat and she stood in this equation.
But that night I imagined we were equal. And various things happened in that period which booze or no booze made things pretty magical — but there was no consummation — even though we agreed we just might do it the next week.
So after an awkward episode of extreme daylight — and sobriety — the next school-day, in front of all my friends in the lunch-time schoolyard — she absolved herself of everything that had happened and very ceremoniously handed me back that bottle of rum — which was still half full — telling me that I had paid for it so it belonged to me.
There would be no consummation. This was THE END.
When I turned 18 I was stuck in an HSC holding-pattern. I was so scared of not getting into university and I was living in the sticks of Marrickville. But I managed to celebrate the event by hobbling over to a football game at the SFS. And that was a big deal for me. There was no drinking or parties or really anything that resembled a celebration – but I think I at least got some vitamin D that day. And maybe that was for the best because I was still wearing tracksuit pants and jumpers my grandma had knitted.
The next time I tasted alcohol was when I moved to Queensland after high school. I moved up there cause all my high school peers were such utter deadshits. Like, they have big careers now and money and live overseas and stuff, but pretty much each and every one of them was a deadshit.
VOMIT and EVENTUAL ABSTINENCE
The next taste of alcohol was bad. At NYE when I was 18 I vomited after 2 beers and had to go home before the midnight stuff. After a few more episodes of epic embarrassment I assumed I was allergic to booze. And after another try which resulted in me vomiting different colours and spewing out a window down two stories I gave up booze.
I then became a designated driver and a very, very surly late-night companion. I was sober and naturally not being that type of soul — that made things even worse.