Alcohol, Tobacco and Sex Education

4 May, 2009

A couple of comments between Chappie and I, over at Postman’s blog, Postcard’s From Gawd, got me thinking about the various sins — especially tobacco and liquor (which really wouldn’t work all that well in hell;  heaven would be a heavenly atmosphere for these sins).  And it got me thinking about the attitudes of kids back when I was in high school.  Last century.  Way back in the 80s (no, (((Girl))), the 1980s). 

In high school, I began to watch people.  Not in a freaky, stalking way, but in an almost sociological way.  I began to observe.  I tried to figure out why people acted the way they did, behaved the way they did.  One of the most fascinating aspects was the disconnect between words and deeds.

Many (not all, but many) of the most religious twice borns had an odd relationship with alcohol and tobacco.  Their churches, their pastors and ministers, preached the inherent sinfulness of hard liquor, beer and smoking (oddly, wine and chew seamed (at least somewhat) acceptable).  In school, they looked down on those who smoked.  They mocked those who drank (yes, high school; hard as it is to believe, underage students drank and smoked). 

But (and you knew there would be a ‘but’, right?), at a party?  These same kids at a bonfire?  at a post-prom party?  at a Sweet Sixteen kegger?  Ah, the joy of forbidden fruit.

See, my parents pulled a dirty trick on me.  If I wanted to try a scotch, or a whiskey sour, or a margherita, or a beer, or some wine (could never drink wine, though;  I cannot get the memory of an experience involving some partially fermented grape juice back when I was about ten years old), my parents had no problem with that.  My parents also told me, flat out, that if I was at a party and had been drinking, all I needed to do was call them and they would come and get me.  Which meant that, when I went to a party, or we bought some beer on a Saturday night at the rafting company, I drank a little bit, but it was no big deal.

The born agains, though.  Wow.  When some of them had a chance at the forbidden, they drank Southern Comfort until they were sick.  Or smoked an entire pack of Marlboro’s in one sitting.  Or chugged beer until they couldn’t stand up.  Or sucked down a cigar in ten minutes.  The fact that their parents and (more important) ministers considered beer and liquor and smoking to be the Protestant equivalent of a cardinal sin. 

Today, the religious right pushes abstinence-only-sex-education in public and private schools.  I wonder if any of them remember their high school days and the lure of forbidden fruit? alcohol and tobacco especially?  Do they really think that forbidding something will make the kids want it less?


Truth in Blogging:  When (((Boy))) announced that he liked scotch, I explained that he would not like it, that he was too young to try it, and that he had to wait until he’s twenty-one.  (((Wife))) looked at me (wives have a look that they use when husbands are being particularly dense, and that is the look she gave me).  She shook her head, turned to (((Boy))) and said, “Here.  Try some.  But if you spray it, you’ll be cleaning the kitchen with a toothbrush.”  He did not spray,  but it turned him off liquor  for quite a while.  And some Keystone Light beer at college has turned him off of beer.  Or, at least, cheap tasteless beer.



  1. Ahhh, scotch, the aquired taste of kings(I hate it)and Keystone???EEWWWW and actual beer worse than Coors. That aside when I grew up my dad didn’t really drink and yet everytime we ate out I got the obligatory “Roy Rogers”(boys version of a Shirley Temple) or a glass of wine as I got older…and my dad taucht me that if I was smart I would use a condom( he actually used a banana to show me)and to not get to frivolous .On top of that he went so far as to sign a smoking permit for me at school(yes I am that old, dammit). Oh the joys of youth.(and to think now I am trying to quit smoking).

  2. I went to Lafayette college. Most of the kids in my freshman dorm came from prep schools and special academies. They all were on a short leash their whole lives up until then. Many dropped out after tanking the first semester. How’d that happen? New found freedom meant booze and drugs and they weren’t prepared for it.

    Me? I’d been doing that shit since middle school, so no biggie. Score one for public school. 😉

    Drink, smoke, and/or believe responsibly. That’s one to grow on (cue campy PSA music and glittery rainbow animation).

  3. The phenomenon is probably pretty common. I, to my lasting anguish and shame, spent my freshman year of college at Abilene Christian University. The freshman class was always huge and the other three were tiny, so the place was full of people like me who didn’t actually want to be there.
    However, we had all come from religious backgrounds and proceeded to partake of any illicit substance we could cram in our bodies. I can recall keeping a facewash bottle full of vodka in my room at all times… and I don’t even like vodka.

    These days, luckily, I’ve discovered the joys of Irish Whiskey, but I don’t drink a tenth of what I did then.

  4. Tau: Again, a kid who was taught through experience, not wrapped in plastic.

    Philly: I like the phrase, ‘Believe Responsibly’.

    And middle school? A couple of times they brought the sniffer dogs into our middle school. One time, I got pulled out of pre-algebra, was escorted to my locker by two sheriff deputies and the vice-principle, and told to open my locker (the dog was ‘on point’ at it). I opened the locker and they searched it. They found a tuna sandwich from oh, I don’t know, three weeks? before. The cops laughed. I got reamed about cleaning my locker and went back to class. The kid who did get caught? A twice-born idiot (who later (when he got into D&D) became a cool kid (in a nerdy way)).

    Postman: Yeah. I saw lots of that when I went away (as a sophomore) to college. Kids who are too restricted tend to have a real problem handling freedom. Which explains some of the authoritarian politicians out there.

  5. If you think it’s bad for the evangelicals, you should experience what it’s like being Mormon. Sex is the second worst sin next to murder (and they never let you forget it!), and drinking, smoking, drugs, etc., are next on the list of horrible sins. Any consumption of forbidden substances is punishable by ostracisation at the least, to formal punishment or even excommunication (depending on the mood of the local ecclesiastical leaders).

    Mormons are programmed to see anyone who drinks as an alcoholic. In fact, I was taught from a young age that if I took even one sip of alcohol, I would immediately become an alcoholic. Which is why I didn’t have any alcohol until I was 23.

    It’s beyond ridiculous.

  6. I would say that’s probably true of Mormons. People who are weak willed, lack self reliance and already have at least one addiction may well become instant alcoholics after just one sip of alcohol.

  7. Craig: My sister lived in Utah for a while. She told me that the combination of holy rollers and drunk teens was appalling.

    Philly: Religion as an addiction? Well, at least it is a harmless addiction, right?

    Oh. Wait. Never mind.

  8. Having been a preacher’s kid, I can testify to the allure of the forbidden. Also, since I was embarrassed about being a PK, I often overcompensated for that shortcoming in ways that my parents did not approve. ‘Nuff said.

  9. Chappie: Details. Philly wants details! So do I, actually.

  10. Details man! Details! (Rubs tentacles with evil glee)…

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