For high school graduation, one set of grandparents gave me a 13″ color television. It seems laughable now, but that was a big deal back in 1986. It really made my Atari 2600 come to life. I could now lose to the ghosts of Pac Man in all their colorful arcade glory.
That fall, I took the television off to college. In those days the dorms weren’t the high tech hubs they are today. Cable television had not made it to the dorms, so I was stuck with rabbit ears. For anyone under 35-ish? reading this, rabbit ears refers to the antennas that came with televisions and allowed you to receive the broadcast from the air. For free. I hear this is still possible, but I haven’t tried it in years.
The problem, I soon discovered, was that the broadcast reception on my side of the dorm was very poor, and I couldn’t pick up the stations clearly. The solution? Make friends with Ross across the hall, and have him allow me to run 50 feet of antennae wire through the dropped ceiling in the hall and into his room and out his window, where we duck taped an antenna. Clear television! For rabbit ears, anyway.
I attended college in God’s country, Athens, Georgia. At the time, The University of Georgia was one of the top-ranked party universities. One of the surprises to me upon arrival at college was that, except for the fall football weekends, Friday and Saturday nights were not the biggest party nights. Thursday was.
As a non-drinker, this had no appeal, and I didn’t understand it. With my television, though, I could participate in the nationwide non-Athens Thursday night trend – viewing NBC’s sitcom lineup. Starting at 8 pm, Ross, my future wife Angie, a few dorm mates who weren’t heading out until later, and I would gather around the only television on the hall, my little set.
We’d watch what was likely the greatest Thursday night line up of all time – The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers and Night Court. And because the Thursday night line up in the dining hall was less than stellar, we usually ordered a pizza and two Cokes from Pizza Pronto for $4.95. Maybe two orders. Sometimes, if we were feeling a bit wild and crazy, we might watch Hill Street Blues at 10 pm, but that was a bit late for me. Then, on Friday mornings, I’d show up for my lightly-attended 7:50 am class a lot less tired than 51-year-old Greg on 2019 Friday mornings.
Back then, UGA had a quarter system, instead of a semester system. This meant three 10-week (11 with exams) sessions, instead of two 14 or 15 week semesters. The beauty of this system was that if you did not uphold a certain GPA for two quarters in a row, the school gave you the boot. Many incoming freshmen in my dorm that year found themselves back home spring quarter after discovering Thursday nights in Athens, GA, and apparently a few other nights per week, during fall and winter quarters.
As a non-drinker, I suppose it’s kinda funny that one of my favorite sitcoms of all-time, Cheers, is about a bar. As a music lover, it also turns out, I have some favorite songs about alcohol. Here they are, in no particular order:
- “Tenessee Whisky” (Live version) – Chris Stapleton & Justin Timberlake
- “Beer in Mexico” – Kenny Chesney (supposedly co-written by Sammy Hagar)
- “Cracklin’ Rose” – Neil Diamond
- “Drink In My Hand” – Eric Church
- “Drowns the Whiskey” – Jason Aldean
- “Take Your Whiskey Home” – Van Halen
I’m fortunate, I suppose, in that alcohol offers absolutely no temptation for me. I have plenty of other nemeses, so who needs alcohol? But, I’ve often wondered why the lack of interest in alcohol. I think growing up in the buckle of the Bible Belt had something to do with it, along with FOM (fear of Mom).
However, I think I can pinpoint my aversion to one particular incident. See, my grandfather owned a small grocery store where, unfortunately, he sold cheap booze to some of the poorer folks in town. On one visit as a kid, I distinctly remember catching a whiff of Mad Dog 20-20 or Schlitz Malt Liquor there after a dropped bottle. I remember the spill smelling worse than the troughs in the men’s room at the football stadium. I couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to drink it. I think that stuck.
Once upon a time, I made a promise to a friend that if I started drinking, I’d make sure he was there to participate in that first session. While I still do not see that ever happening, my current job has finally solved the mystery that has befuddled me all these years. I finally understand why people drink.
Thanks for reading,
PS. I’m going to leave my survey up through the weekend. If you haven’t taken it, please do so. The link is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8Q5DW5L. Thank you to those who have responded.