Friday, November 02, 2007


(If anyone has a good title idea, please let me know.)

My father is a very unique man. He considers himself (and rightly so) a European-style liberal intellectual who hates Republicans and conservative politics so fiercely that he must subconsciously rebel against the conservative fixtures around us at all possible times. He mentions marijuana when teaching students about civil suits in his government classes, antagonizes my mother’s born-again-Christian sister at all family gatherings, and, on the day before the 2004 presidential election, told the sole Republican girl in one of his classes that if George Bush won reelection, she had to bring us in an apple pie, because “He’s as American as apple pie, right?” At the same time, he has an indescribably powerful obsession with Richard Nixon, a man who was “just so horrible that you have to love spending time learning about him.”

Despite his excessive pride at being arrested during a political protest outside the White House in 1973, my father is still a law-abiding citizen, who believes that most laws, such as the drinking age, were put in place for a good reason. Ironically, once we venture outside the United States, he feels that we are culturally obligated to partake in the customs of the country we are visiting. In fact, on the big family trip to Italy my senior year of high school, he willingly gave my younger brother and I wine at every meal that it was offered to us.

For me, this was the perfect introduction to alcohol. I never relished the idea of going to a frat party my first weekend of college, having been persuaded to go out by my certainly alcoholic roommate, getting so trashed I passed out, and waking up with a boy I’d never met before in bed next to me. Drinking wine in Italy with my father was a much less stressful experience.

However, once we returned to the US, alcoholic consumption once again became taboo (unless, of course, we were having our friends from France over), and at every available opportunity, my father would tell me, “Don’t drink. It’s bad for you.” On occasion, he would even find it necessary to remind me that alcoholism runs on both sides of our family, and would go through a list of all my relatives who had been alcoholics, so as to suggest that once I started drinking, I may find that the sensations accompanying a rising blood alcohol level to be hereditarily pleasing, and I would be thus persuaded to spend all available time and capital filling myself with the devil’s nectar.

I wonder sometimes if he has forgotten that it was in fact he himself who gave me my first drink. Is his constant need to remind me of the horrific effects of alcohol in excess a way of quelling his inner guilt? Maybe he thought drinking in a country that condones such behaviors in minors negated the actual act of drinking, or that drinking in the company of people whose native land supported such consumption did the same.

Whatever the case, when I got my first lead role in a college operetta production, what did my father do? He popped open a bottle of dessert wine in celebration. And then on Sunday, taking me back to school for my first rehearsal, turned to me and said, “Don’t drink, honey. It’s bad for you.”


Ankit said...

What about bad titles? "Do As I Say, Not As I Do"

Rachel B said...

I feel like this piece would work as a part of something larger. I feel like it is unfinished. It would be nice to see some sort of change happen throughout the piece. I feel like it's a bit too static.

The father is a very interesting character. I want to see more of him. I would also like to see more of the speaker. We don't really get to know them very well yet.