I’m newly sober and dog-paddling through the booze all around me. It’s summer, and Whole Foods has planted rosé throughout the store. Rosé is great with fish! And strawberries! And vegan protein powder! (Okay, I made that last one up.) At the office, every desk near mine has a bottle of wine or liquor on it in case people are too lazy to walk the 50 feet to one of the well-stocked communal bars we’ve built on our floor. Driving home from work, I pass billboard ads for Fluffed Marshmallow Smirnoff and Iced Cake Smirnoff and not just Cinnamon, but Cinnamon Churros Smirnoff. A local pharmacy, the same one that fucks up my prescription three months in a row, installs self-service beer taps and young guys line up with their empty growlers all the way back to Eye & Ear Care.
Traveling for work, I steel myself for the company-sponsored wine tasting. Skipping it is not an option. My plan is to work the room with my soda and lime, make sure I’m seen by the five people who care about these things, and leave before things get sloppy (which they always do). Six wines and four beers are on display at the catering stand. I ask for club soda and get a blank look. Just water, then? The bartender grimaces apologetically. “I think there’s a water fountain in the lobby?” she says.
There is. But it’s broken. I mingle empty-handed for 15 minutes, fending off well-meaning offers to get me something from the bar. After the fifth, I realize I’m going to cry if one more person offers me alcohol. I leave and cry anyway. Later I order vanilla ice cream from room service to cheer myself up.
“People love this with a shot of bourbon poured over it,” the person taking my order says. “Any interest in treating yourself?”
That’s the summer I realize that everyone around me is tanked. But it also dawns on me that a lot of the women are super double tanked — that to be a modern, urbane woman means to be a serious drinker. This isn’t a new idea — just ask the Sex and the City girls (or the flappers). A woman with a single malt scotch is bold and discerning and might fire you from her life if you fuck with her. A woman with a PBR is a Cool Girl who will not be shamed for belching. A woman drinking MommyJuice wine is saying she’s more than the unpaid labor she gave birth to. The things women drink are signifiers for free time and self-care and conversation — you know…