Those were actual words that dropped out of my own mother’s mouth. I was the ripe age of 16; it was the age I received my drivers license, the age that my curfew became later, and the age that many kids start experimenting with drugs and alcohol.
I was always a nerd. I am pretty sure my mom thought so, too. The D.A.R.E. program scared the bejesus out of me, and I was absolutely terrified of drugs. I listened to McGruff, the Crime Dog, and “just said NO to drugs!”
I still remember the day I saw what actual recreational drugs looked like. I was in fifth grade and our D.A.R.E. instructor, Officer Nealy, brought in a sealed, see-through case that had multiple, visible compartments. Each compartment had a different illegal drug inside and Officer Nealy went through and explained to the class what each drug did and how each one would either kill you, or get you killed.
I was terrified.
I took the oath to never do drugs and became an instant winner because “Winners Dare to Say NO To Drugs!”
Over the years, as any normal adolescent, I’d run into people here and there who were experimenting with new things: alcohol, “The Rachel” haircut, marijuana, threesomes, etc. I decided that I didn’t want to cut my hair into “The Rachel,” and I didn’t want to partake in a threesome, but, I thought getting drunk sounded fun!
So, I gathered up three of my friends for a sleepover at my place. My parents had a liquor cabinet that would put any bar to shame, and I planned it all out.
We waited for my parents to hit the hay, and once they were out, we raided the forbidden closet of fun juice. We collected red Solo cups and filled 10 of them with different alcohols; cognac, tequila, vodka, Grand Mariner, Scotch, etc. It was an alcoholic Category 5 hurricane in every cup.
I took three sips and immediately knew this was a bad idea. My friends? Not so much. They kept going. In fact, they polished off every single Solo cup.
Within twenty minutes, they were tossing their liquor cookies all over my bedroom, and I was quite certain they were dying. I immediately ran to my mom and told her I think I accidentally killed my friends.
She came to survey the site, glared at me in the eye and said: “Well, that wasn’t very well thought out, was it? Don’t you know you’re not supposed to mix liquor? Make them some toast, get them water, and I will get some Aspirin from the medicine cabinet.”
I did just that, and the next morning my friends woke up, alive, with hangovers from Hell.
That evening my mom sat me down and gave me a few pointers. “Look, when you drink, you cannot mix alcohol. That is a recipe for disaster, as you saw from last night’s escapades.”
I understood. That made sense. Don’t drink every type of alcohol together all in one sitting. Got it. CHECK.
“Second, why were you not drunk?”
My inner nerd explained I didn’t like the taste nor the way it made me feel.
“Well, you’ve not tried Chardonnay yet, so that might change. But nonetheless, you put me in a really bad position allowing your friends to drink in our home. I am responsible for them when they are under my roof. I called their parents to let them know what you three were up to, and I know you’ll hate me for that, but live with it,” she continued.
“And lastly, look: if you want to try alcohol, if you want to try drugs, can you just let me know instead of jumping into the wild with your friends? I know a bit more about this than you do, and I would much rather you sample some Chardonnay with me than drive to a friends house or a party to do it.”
I told her I didn’t want to “sample” Kendall Jackson with her, but I would be sure to let her know if that changed.
“Well, what about drugs? Are there are drugs you are thinking about trying? I smoked pot when I was your age.”
“NO, MOM! I do not plan on doing any drugs and I certainly don’t plan on doing them with you!” I responded.
She continued, “Well, your dad and I grew up in the 70’s. ‘Hash’, ‘reefer’,’ganja’–whatever you kids are calling it these days–was a big thing, and I’d imagine still is today. Your dad and I stayed away from all the ‘hard stuff’ but we did smoke the marijuana. We feel, for the most part, if it comes from the ground, you should be fine.”
“Mom, please stop. I promise, I will never do drugs and I will never drink alcohol again!” I screeched back.
“Don’t get too ahead of yourself, Ashley. Let me know if you change your mind.”
Sure enough, my senior year of high school, I decided I wanted to try “the marijuana.” I let my mom know my plans, and after a discussion with my dad, she decided that it should be done in our home.
I came home with three of my friends after school one day and there was my mother in the backyard, setting up lawn chairs in circle formation.
“You all should be comfortable here in the backyard. No one is allowed to leave this house under the influence, and I expect that each of your parents knows that you will be smoking the marijuana today?”
They all lied and said yes.
We all sat in the lawn-chair formed circle and smoked pot for the first time. We felt nothing, and we were all disappointed.
Within fifteen minutes, we were blitzed, and my mother came walking out with snacks and drinks. We chowed down in our new stoner-status, put on Dumb & Dumber and fell asleep for a good six hours. Later, my friends went on their way, and my mom sat me down and asked my thoughts on the marijuana experience.
I told her I thought it was pretty lame and I didn’t need anything else to put me to sleep; senior year did a good enough job of that.
She closed out the little learning session with this: “Well, there you have it. You don’t like booze and you don’t seem to like drugs either. As a parent, I am happy to hear this but I think you might change your mind on the Chardonnay.”
Looking back on these experiences now as a mother myself, I am somewhat baffled my mom took that approach. However, she took the allure out of drugs and alcohol. There was no secrecy or reason to hide it from her, because she made it clear I could come to her if I wanted to experiment. Many likely frown upon that partnering move, however, as a woman now in her thirties, I can tell you that still, to this day, I’ve not touched one illegal drug aside from “the marijuana” and I am grateful to my mom for taking the mystique out of drugs.
As far as alcohol goes, on the other hand, I’ve been known to sit down and enjoy a nice martini from time to time, oftentimes, with my mom and her Kendall Jackson.