Day Twenty Seven: Sneaking Drinks

A White Russian from .

Today is a lazy Sunday and I'm laying on my couch, a cold beer within arm's reach.

I'm calm and peaceful, and thoughts of my Mom are not tinted with remorse or sadness. I'm experiencing a temporary upswing, and who knows how long it will last. But while I'm here, I might as well tell you another funny story, and hopefully you'll laugh along with me.

When I was in high school, my parents and I attended a cousin's wedding somewhere on Long Island. I didn't complain about being dragged away from my friends and other social obligations. Instead, I got all gussied up and looked forward to the fancy meal and free booze.

Of course, being a high school junior, I wasn't exactly drinking publicly. (Or legally for that matter.) So I had to be sneaky about it. I asked my Dad if he wanted a beer or a mixed drink, and then headed over to the bar where I personally had a little something before returning with his order. After the second time, he got wise to my scam and smiled at me. "Get me whatever you're getting," he said with a wink. Ah, my Dad was going to play along and not tell my Mom. Which was such a relief because not only did she NOT drink, she also frowned on anyone who DID drink, especially her youngest child.

Well, this bit of acknowledgement from my Dad empowered me to order Manhattans, gimlets, and other grown-up sounding cocktails. Some of the drinks I had never tasted before, and weddings with an open bar seemed like the perfect opportunity to experiment. If I didn't like it, I would simply leave it on the bar. If it tasted okay, I'd bring it back and share it with my Dad.

My last drink was a white Russian, and (for some stupid reason I can't remember) I asked the bartender to make it a strong one. I was on my way back to the table when my Mom came over to me from the dance floor. And she looked awfully thirsty. Eyeballing my drink, she asked me what is was. Because of its white-ish/brown-ish color, I blurted out that is was an iced coffee. My Mom grabbed it from my hand and drank the entire tumbler in two gulps. Uh oh. The jig was up.

Though she caught me red-handed, she never said anything about this incident for almost twenty years. Mom broke her silence a few years ago. We were all together for our annual Christmas Eve party at my parents' apartment and I saw her drinking a glass of red wine. My jaw must have dropped considerably because she laughed at me. "What? Do you want some? It's fruit juice," she said dryly. And we finally talked about that wedding on Long Island and my "iced coffee" drink.

Which brings me back to me laying on the couch. Today I'll have my cold beer and remember how my Mom and I were able to laugh about something that seemed so contentious twenty years before. Time heals old wounds. And I'm hoping that if I'm given enough time I can look back at this period in my life and find some humor in the pain.

Here's to you, Mom.