The subject of my alcohol-fuelled childhood recently came up and not in therapy as one would imagine.
Both my grandfathers were Portuguese and both were winemakers like their fathers before them. Growing grapes and making wine was never an option for either one of them. It was just something they did. I don’t recall ever seeing my grandparents buy a bottle of wine just like I can’t recall a time when there wasn’t an open bottle of wine at the dinner table. Each year at harvest time, my sister and I were brought in to help with the picking and making of wine and since our grandparents lived on separate properties we were really busy.
I guess this was our first experience with work although we loved it so much we didn’t think of it as work.
My sister and I were the only ones allowed to trample the grapes in the winepress.
We had the sense from the way our grandfathers sought us out – and only us – that we added ‘magic’ to the process as we sang our childish songs and trampled those grapes with an enthusiasm I sometimes wish I could recapture. I seem to recall we would wear the absolute minimum for the job – bathing suits and very short shorts and raggedy t-shirts. We were sticky and sweet for days 🙂
By now you must be thinking my grandparents lived on farms but no, they nurtured their vines in their suburban gardens; those vines offered shelter from the harsh African sun under which we enjoyed extended barbecues and spilled gloriously green and abundant over their respective garages and boundary walls.
There was of course a reason for our enthusiasm. My sister and I knew what would happen as the grapes were left to ferment in large vats. Samples had to be taken during the process of fermentation and someone had to be on hand to turn the tap and pour those first drops of sweet nectar. My sister and I were available. It’s not like we had anything else to do but attend school.
You may think we were drunk a lot. I don’t believe we ever were. We were allowed to drink wine (one small glass each) from an early age and I credit that experience to the fact that I know when to stop. I have been ‘wasted’ a record one time. And it wasn’t on wine and I was well into my twenties (boring I know).
My question is not whether you started drinking as a toddler but what activity did you participate in as a child that is now frowned upon or considered risque?