I Was a Child Alcoholic (Hold the Alcohol)
March 29, 2006

Oh, Disney, you've done it again! First it was the sexual whispers in Aladdin, and then there were those swirling clouds in The Lion King that looked like a penis? Breasts? I can't really remember what they were supposed to be. And now, NOW Disney is out to corrupt the world's youth with PartyFizz.

PartyFizz -- you must always, always spell it without the space because that's what makes it fun and childlike -- is a non-alcoholic drink that's packaged to look like champagne for the finger-painting, Play-Doh set. Oh, and it's not not just fizzy and golden, no, no, no -- it actually comes with a (gasp!) cork and wire basket!

I learned about the fizz flack from Slashfood where one of the bloggers comments, "However, when it comes to chidlren [sic], I am extremely conservative, and the idea of 'Champagne' for kids, even though it is non-alcoholic, is very very stupid." The Slashfood blogger isn't the only one who holds that opinion because, as she notes earlier in the piece, "Health officials have started campaigning against it, saying that it could be a potentially dangerous gateway to underage drinking and alcoholism for children."

Lord, I must have been a deviant! With a brain not at all fogged by adult alcoholism, I can clearly recall the happy times when Ann, Jane, and I sought out to sample every possible bottle of Sparkling Catawba juice our corner store had to offer.

In the beginning, Catawba juice started out as the tipple the parents served to the youngsters at Christmas, New Year's, Thanksgiving, etc. It was celebratory. But oh, how soon our cravings grew! Soon, we were needing to celebrate everything in our skinned-knee lives. "You took your training wheels off?" Catawba! "You're allowed to ride in the street?" Catawba! "You managed to get Barbie's head back on?" CATAWBA!

We'd traipse down to Chi's market on Lake Street -- either on Big Wheels or, later, clicking ten-speed bikes -- and suss out the selection. Cold Duck was always an inviting choice -- and I still haven't quite figured out what the adult equivalent is, other than a punch line on Fraiser -- but we often went with the Sparkling Chablis, Sparkling Spumante, or Sparkling Burgundy because we recognized those names from the empty bottles left over from our parents' parties.

Once the vintage and grape was selected and carted home, our mothers would allow us to carefully use their champagne glasses and hold our own little parties while we watched Auntie Mame, Singing in the Rain, The Women, and various Agatha Christie murder mysteries. I do believe there were even times when the three of us debated the bouquets of the various juices. (We were weird kids.)

And that doesn't end my amateur fascination with alcohol. I seem to remember times when my older sister and I mixed water with drops of every possible food coloring in order to produce murky brown water that we passed off as "whisky" or "bourbon" and drank it out of shot glasses. It tasted sort of musty, because of all that food coloring, but that just made it all the more authentic. (In our minds.)

As for the worry of childhood alcoholism, well, the thing of it is that I had no real desire to try actual alcohol. The one or two sips my mother allowed me to sample from a wine glass were enough to tell me that alcohol tasted gross and that Catawba juice was much nicer. Furthermore, I'd like to note that except for the one time I pounded approximately a thimbleful of wine cooler before my last senior high school dance (hi, Mom!), no underaged drinking* was done by me until I entered college. Even then, I was only a tentative drinker of watered beer for a few years. It was only after I studied for a summer in England, where I had good beer, good wine, and amazing port, that I started to cultivate a thirst that would not be slaked.

*Wait, I just remembered that my older sister dared me to take a sip of something brown my parents had festering in a barely touched Danish Modern smoked glass decanter. It might have been sherry, it could have been brandy, but whatever it was, I spit it out in the toilet with a mashed Lorna Doone cookie and pretended I had thrown up from the vile stuff so my sister would stop daring me to do things.

Hungry? Get a menu pushed
under your door when I update:
Powered by NotifyList.com
Copyright © 2002-2006 Stephanie Vander Weide