My last post got me thinking about my parents a lot. They supported us in so many ways, especially in ways that we never even knew. The last bit of my last blog talked about why I do not do major alcohol. This was formed by my parents and a well-played evening on their part.
When I turned eighteen years old, it was the legal drinking age in Wisconsin. They have since upped the age which, after you read this story, you may understand why.
My folks owned a little place called The Wagon Tongue Café back then. Half of it was a little restaurant by day. The other half that did not open until afternoon was the bar. I only had to go to school half days during my Senior year, so the other half of the day was spent waitressing and cleaning up when closed. I want you all to remember something I hold to be very profound.
EVERY TEENAGER (or early 20-somethings) SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO BE A WAITRESS, BUS PERSON, OR DISHWASHER.
No matter where I have traveled those jobs, along with bartending, have gotten me through the hardest of times. They are excellent fall back jobs. I have done some fast food joints to get by or earn extra money. I never have, and never will feel that they are jobs that are “beneath me” no matter what. I firmly believe that it would be, to all middle teen to early twenty people, a great service in their life.
On my 18th birthday through my folks, their establishments, and the people connections, they allowed me to create; I just knew I was going to have a great birthday. This was, after all, a mile marker – number eighteen!
I had no clue that my loving parents had already spoken to every other bar owner in town warning them of my upcoming celebration. Yes, spoken to as in told them exactly how to handle me when I stopped in. They had it all planned out way before I even had a chance to think about it.
The glorious day finally came. I had to wait tables that morning, then got cleaned up and ready to go out on the town by around 4:00 p.m., everyone was in our bar waiting for me. Then came my instructions from mom and dad:
“You do not have to pay for a single drink, however; you have to drink what is put in front of you before moving on to the next one or place.”
I DON’T HAVE TO PAY FOR MY DRINKS! That was the only part I initially heard. Dad started me off with my first shot – blackberry brandy. Not too bad, this is gonna be fun I thought.
My party group proceeded to lead me from bar to bar, meeting all the owners, shaking hands, laughing and drinking whatever was put in front of me. I thought I was doing pretty good until about the fourth establishment. Someone bought me a thing called Tooties Roll. It did taste exactly like the candy. I don’t remember all the details after that. I walked into a parking meter and said: “Excuse me.” I thought it was a person. I remember waiving at some friends driving by. Apparently, they had to stop because I was waiving at them from out in the street.
I remember getting back to my parent’s bar, and dad served me a shot called A Flaming Angel. He mixed it up and set it on fire – I had NEVER seen such a thing before. He told me to drink it by downing it really fast, as I lean back it will put out the flame. Well, cool, young, very wasted me just grabbed that shot glass, flung it up to my mouth, and as I threw back my head to down the shot I just kept right on falling backward. I did the shot perfectly (except for falling flat on the floor on my back) and began laughing. The next part is hazy.
I was told by numerous participants, that this is what happened:
- I stopped laughing.
- I turned completely white as a sheet.
- I rushed up and ran to the bathroom (apparently someone was occupying it, but that did not stop me – I just told them to move quickly.).
- I proceeded to throw up (at least I hit the toilet – I think?).
I spent the next three days in my bed or throwing up. Since that glorious evening, I think I have maybe taken two shots of peppermint as an after-dinner drink on two separate occasions. When I get strong alcohol up to my nose, I get a knee-jerk reaction to throw up again.
MY PARENTS WERE BRILLIANT! They knew way back then how to stop me from ever possibly becoming an alcoholic, and it worked. I hope you do not think they were bad parents for doing this to me; I don’t. I have known too many friends that would sneak drinks in fear of getting caught. Later in life, I saw some of them, and it was not good. I have learned this lesson from all that:
Be upfront, open, and honest whenever possible, and hope that it will help in the long run.
(This pic hung over my bed as a child – I guess they knew back then it would take more than just a Guardian Angel to keep me out of trouble – LOL.)
You can also check me out on: www.helbergfarmstories.com for more fun stories from our farm.