I Know Everything About Alcohol … Apparently?

It’s funny how the most random things will get you a reputation.

In college, I wasn’t known as a big partier, or a particularly “wild” person of any sort (thought if I had been in college in 1929, that might have been different). Neither was I known for being particularly studious, or lazy. I didn’t really have any kind of label. I became known as “the girl who talks in movie quotes” freshman year, but that didn’t stick except among a few people.

But then, somehow, I became known as “the person who knows all about liquor.”

I think I can blame my cousin Simon: he introduced me to the gin & tonic, including the history behind it. On another visit, he let me try some of his absinthe, back before it was un-banned in the United States, and he let me borrow a book about that liquor’s history. I told a few friends about all this, and by the time I had graduated, the G&T was not only my “signature” drink, but I was the person that people thought knew all about alcohol.

In truth, I knew about G&Ts and absinthe, and I made a few Pirates of the Caribbean jokes about rum, and that’s about it. I don’t drink beer, I hate vodka, and I never tasted whiskey until last year (although oh my, do I like it now!). And still the reputation sticks—maybe because I’m not ashamed to order alcoholic beverages in mixed company, or because I’m enthusiastic about what limited knowledge I have and that makes it seem like I know more than I do. If people (especially old college friends) have amusing alcohol-related stories, I’m the one they think to tell. If people have questions about what sort of drink to make/order, want to know what kind of liquor to buy, or want a recommendation, they ask me.

To add to this: A friend of mine recently went through a breakup. I saw her just after she got off the phone with her sister, and the bereaved friend said “She said you’d drink wine with me.”

What could I say? “Of course I will.”

In some cases, it’s not even my friends who ask me about this stuff.

I was in Chicago this weekend. On my first evening, Tessa and I went to Trader Joe’s to pick up some rations. The store was full of hustle and bustle, and on our way to the cashiers, this guy came up to me and said, “Do you know where the champaign would be? I know nothing about liquor.”

I said, “I’m not sure, but I would look under that sign that says ‘Sparkling.'”

He thanked me and hurried off.

(Note: When I mentioned this on Facebook, one friend suggested that he had been hitting on me; trust me that this was not the case. He looked a little frazzled, and didn’t make eye contact. As soon as I made my suggestion, he thanked me and hurried away.)

Apparently I have an aura of alcoholism that even strangers can read.

I couldn’t possibly tell you how they got the idea …