How To Put Your Children Off Drinking Alcohol.... Forever!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Some of my family and friends know that I don't drink alcohol.
So there. If you didn't know that about me, you do now.
In New Zealand, it is a serious social sin to not drink. It annoys the heck out of me that our culture is this way, but there's nothing I can do to change it.
It has always amazed me that very few people have actually ever asked me why I don't drink. I once told a friend it was because I was a recovering alcoholic. I'm not, but the look on their face was priceless!

So let me tell you why I don't drink, and what happened over the weekend that has probably put my kids off drinking too. Forever.

I could probably list about 5 reasons why I don't drink, but the one over-powering reason is that I can't stand the smell of it, and this is why....

When I was a young teenager, we used to go up north to Waipu Cove every New Year's. And it wasn't for a holiday. It was an organised trip with my father who worked for a christian outreach ministry and we would normally join with a couple of the larger churches in Auckland who would send a group of their young people to help.

We set up tents on the beach with coffee and milo and tea and biscuits, and we would go down every evening and wait for the drunks to come along. Absolutely blotto and either raucous or crazy mad, and we'd try and sober them up with coffee and a place to sit and chat. Or a safe place to crash unconscious.

So I have this overpowering memory of drunk, rough, unkempt men (and some women) staggering into the tents, throwing up on their feet; teetering over to talk and breathing out their alcohol-ridden breath into my face, and the memory of that stench has stayed with me all my life. So I cannot stand the smell of alcohol. Even if I wanted to drink it, I couldn't get past the stench.

So, it was interesting this last weekend when we were at the bach, to see how my children responded to a similar thing.

It was early in the evening on Saturday night and I was out on the deck watching the children as they played on the beach. They had been having a go with the kite, but had given up and were fishing for shrimp and jellyfish in the rock pools.

I must have got distracted, because the next thing is a couple of the kids came running up breathless, saying there was a drunk man on the beach with a very bad injury on his leg.

It happened at the time that Rob, my husband was away on his daily run around the road that winds along the bays, and while there were cousins and the caretaker close by, they were a stiff run up the hill, and it was obviously something that the children wanted me to deal with straight away.

So, I went down with them and through the little gate that gives access to the beach, and there, lying under a Pohutukawa tree, on the rocks was a tall, skinny man with a large and very bloodied gash running up his shin, and he was talking to himself in a mumbled jumble.

A couple of men, who were passing by on the track over to the next beach had stopped to talk to him.

"What's up with him?" I asked the older of the two men. An englishman, judging by his accent.

"I've tried to tell him he needs to go to hospital, but he's not making any sense. He told me he's proud of his wound." The man shrugged.
"I've been trying to whistle up to his mates on the track."

The drunk man looked around and slurring, said, "don't ever get drunk."
Wise words.

At this point, with all the kids a few feet behind me, the drunk man staggered up, it took him a few goes, a couple of times he fell down before he managed to stand on his feet, and unzipping his trousers peed on the tree. Then he fell down again, absolutely prostrate and absolutely oblivious to the hard landing he had on the stones, and went unconscious for a few seconds.

Then he woke up and tried to move, and vomited.

As this was happening, I could hear some men coming down the track and their language was... shall we say.... uneducated.  *&*#%;^ this and *$#@&*; that, and if there was anything intelligible in all of that, I couldn't make out what it was. And they sounded angry.

I've seen angry drunk. And I've seen silly drunk. The man on the beach was silly drunk, but I wasn't going to take any risks with these other guys, so I quickly ushered the kids in behind the gate. And locked it. We returned to the house and watched from up there.

The men tried to get their 'friend' to follow them. Swearing at him for being so stupid. And then they left. Left him there lying on the stones.

A few minutes later we watched as he staggered up and tried to follow them up the hill. He fell quite a few times, veering off the track and landing face-first into the tall grass, slipping on the steep hillside, trying to put one foot in front of the other, failing. Falling. Trying again. And then we lost sight of him.

By this time, Rob had returned.
"Should we call the police? Or the ambulance." I asked.
Seriously, I was thinking that if he could barely make it up the hill, there would be no way he'd make it down the other side which is very, very steep and a fall would land him on some very sharp rocks below.

Rob, who has worked in the justice department and with varying degrees of criminals all his working life, said that on a Saturday night the police won't do anything about a lone, harmless drunk. He's just one of probably hundreds in Auckland that night and they were probably too busy dealing with more serious incidents, so there was nothing we could do.

One of the kids said, "Drunk people make me feel scared."
I had to agree. I'm glad he was the silly-drunk, but even the silly-drunks can be unpredictable.
I expect it will be a memory that will stay with them. It's not the first drunk we've encountered out there, and I'm sure he won't be the last either. Last summer Rob had to fish one of them out of the sea by towing him back with the kayak. He had jumped off the rocks, swum out a little ways and then realised he was in trouble.

In the morning we did see the group of drunks walking back across the beach, including the injured man. They were a very quiet, grumpy-looking group of people. But I am truly amazed that man survived the trip down the other-side of the hill.


vegemitevix said...

I love my glass of wine. Love the colour, the taste the magic that goes into perfecting the different feel on the palate and all the nuances with flavour and colour. Having said that I also remember my first scary experience with crazy drunks at Uni. I didn't really drink then but most of the others in the hostel did. I learnt very quickly that alcohol can really highlight a person's true character for good, (silly, funny, witty entertaining) and for bad (aggressive, negative, suicidal, violent). It was a difficult lesson to learn but a really important one. Glad your hubby came back when he did. Vx

Rachel said...

I'm sure it was seeing the negative side at my young and impressionable age that put me off. That said, I do find my slightly inebriated friends and relatives highly amusing. And it's true that it brings out their true character. :o)

Anonymous said...

A really great lesson for your kids. Sad though that they have to learn that way :-/
My kids have had the same experiences and have been made to feel really nervous around drunk relatives. Not a good look!
I don’t drink either, made that choice many years ago. There is more fun in the world to be had without alcohol I reckon :-)

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