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An Early Start

January 18, 2013

I don’t remember this; after all, I was only two years old. But that wasn’t the reason my mother never let me forget the details of this particular night so long ago. And, surprisingly, this story has stayed pretty much the same throughout the decades. At least the major points have remained consistent. It goes something like this…

My parents, five year old brother and I went to the city to spend the weekend with friends, my dad’s Navy buddy and his family. They had two sons, one about a year older than me, and the other an infant. I was two, so Walt must have been going on three, and Joey was just a few months old. Add to that my very active older brother, Darrell, who quite regularly reduced our paternal grandmother, a woman who’d raised four active boys of her own, to a frazzled mess in nothing flat, and me.

Now, I don’t want to brag here, but my mother always said what a good baby I was, and remember, in this story, I was still pretty little. I didn’t hit my stride until I was about fourteen, so up until that point mom still liked me. Mostly because I took it easy on her…I didn’t even start walking until I was fourteen months old. She said I was always quiet and shy, afraid of my own shadow. She’d sit me down on a blanket with a few toys and I’d stay right where she put me until she returned. She liked her fat lazy baby…especially after chasing Darrell all day. Legend has it that he never did walk…running, climbing, and figuring out what made everything tick were more his style.

The foursome of adults that evening were quite fond of spirits. And in this stage of their lives, they experimented with different beverages…the ladies tried beer, wine, and mixed drinks. The men went for straight shots, usually brandy, with a beer chaser.

After supper, they sat in the living room sipping their drinks, catching up, and rehashing old times. The guys talked about their time in the Navy, and the ladies compared recipes, household tips and child-rearing ideas…the stuff that was important to the stay-at-home-moms of the time. Actually, back then, they were called housewives. It was that long ago.

As the evening progressed, the adults might have gotten a little tipsy…but they weren’t the only ones…

It seems that I spent the evening discreetly wandering around the room, quietly picking the glasses off the end tables and downing the dregs. I was small for my age and those end tables were at eye level; any kid would have been intrigued. I just happened to get away with it.

I was likely too busy to care what the boys were up to, or how far gone the adults were, for that matter. I might have even liked the way I was feeling, and maybe even the taste of the drinks. Why else would a two year old have kept going back for more?

The boys were probably off playing somewhere…or maybe taking something apart…I don’t remember them being mentioned, but they had to have been there…they were too young and active to have been left alone for long.

I’m not sure how I managed to fly under the radar long enough to get totally sloshed, but I did. Maybe they were used to me being the good little girl that never got into trouble, so they didn’t need to watch me like a hawk. My brother, on the other hand, was a different story. Mom’d learned the hard way that she couldn’t take her eyes off of him for a minute. Maybe, between Darrell and the booze, she was distracted. Or maybe she was as drunk as I was. That part of the story is a little fuzzy. I have no memory of it, and I’m not sure mom does either.

When my gait changed from a typical two-year-old toddle to a weaving, drunken stagger, my personality went from shy to gregarious, and I began to fall down more than usual, then, and only then, did they think something might be amiss. And upon further investigation, they discovered the truth. I was drunk.

So I was changed into my pale pink pajamas and banished to the crib for the night.

And, as the story goes, I slept quite late the next morning, and I’m guessing everyone else did, too…except maybe Darrell and Walt. When I did wake up, I was decidedly not happy. But, since my mother knew that I was likely suffering my first killer hangover, I was given baby aspirin and a bottle of milk and put back to bed to sleep it off.

  1. Margaret permalink

    Holy cow, woman! Well, they were right about one thing, I also like milk for a hangover.

  2. I wish that were on youtube…i want to see a sloshed baby Karen…but in all seriousness you could have died that night of either alcohol poisoning or aspirating on your vomit. (My kid should have had your mom, then she’d have a reason to need therapy!) Keep those “Mommy Dearest” stories coming…misery loves company, you know.

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