Storytime Wednesday: Why I Didn't Drink Bourbon Until I Was 27

The tooth fairy was very generous in my house. I know some kids would get quarters under their pillows, but I got cool coins like half dollars, Susan B. Anthony dollars, and even $2 bills. So, losing a tooth was an exciting experience and something that I was maybe a little overeager to do, sometimes. 

(Though now, the worst nightmares I have, and I have them often, are that my teeth are falling out. Why is this so common?)

When I was in third grade and probably close to my last rounds of losing teeth, I had a wiggler that was being stubborn. I was watching TV with my parents, fiddling with it, until finally I decided I'd had enough and went to the bathroom to yank it out. Big mistake. It immediately started gushing blood, so I fled to my mother to fix it, as eight-year-olds are wont to do.

At this point, I would like to assure you all that my mother does not drink TOO much, something I wrote on a "What I'm Thankful For" card for a class project elementary school, which thrilled both my mother and my teacher. But, despite her badassery in the modern business world, she's still a bit of a Southerner at heart, so her response to my mouthful of pain was to assume that third grade was definitely time to start on the hard stuff. She handed me a capful of Jack Daniels and told me to rinse my mouth out with it.

Now, as a kid, this was a huge deal. Sure, I'd had sips of their margaritas, but your parent handing you a shot of whiskey is obviously an important rite of passage for any Texan. I felt very mature for getting such a privilege while still in elementary school. I ran to the bathroom, super excited, with my shot of whiskey. It smelled amazing. I tipped it into my mouth, swished, and...

SPAT ALL OF THE BURNING LIQUID OUT IMMEDIATELY. What the hell was that??? Why did adults like this? My confusion mounted as I frantically tried to rinse the taste away with water, which somehow only made it worse. I don't remember my mother's response - I want to say she was sympathetic, but also kind of laughing at my extreme reaction to a half shot of whiskey.

I spent the next 15 or so years avoiding the stuff, which was not a problem while I lived in San Diego and Milan. However, within literally weeks of moving back to Austin, I was out with some friends and said to myself, "You know what, I could really go for a Whiskey Ginger right now." I don't know if my Texan genes were kicking in or just that enough of my tastebuds had died so I could appreciate it, but bourbon is one of my go-tos now.

This whole experience taught me a valuable life lesson that I still use to this day: if you avoid your problems for years, you can totally overcome them.


I was significantly younger than 3rd grade in this picture, but look at those curls!

I was significantly younger than 3rd grade in this picture, but look at those curls!