On Laughter and Drink
Everything Elissa writes is a pleasure to read, and so beautifully written. This was very informative also.
Your story was funny and sad all at the same time. I come from an Irish family so I understand what alcohol can do to a person but I still love a glass of red wine and a good margarita! I love reading your stories we all can relate to them in different ways thank you for them.
My mother used to sing one which had the following verse:
"The doors swing in, the doors swing out,
Some pass in and others pass out!"
Don't get me started on Whiskey in the Jar..."Whiskey you're the devil, you're leading me astray...."
This is so funny. I learned this song at least by the age of 8. Even now, 37 years sober, I know a dozen drinking songs by heart.
I will never tire of you peeling back the layers on your family. Ever interesting and nuanced and filled with devotion and story and love. In your words, it's all beautiful--even the hard parts.
You're such a gifted writer, Elissa. Insightful; clever resonances; beautiful choice of words. My dad - a quiet man who felt he needed alcohol to get him up to the level of the rest of the world - was in charge of the drinks every Christmas. I would take the orders and deliver the Dubonnet or port and lemon. When I was ten, he gave me a tumbler of vodka and lemonade, saying, 'Don't tell anyone.' You do wonder why adults thought it was a good thing to do - I guess in those Mad Men days, alcohol was just part of life, felt normal. And it helped him, so he thought it would help me.
What a beautiful piece of writing! Thank you.
By far the funniest story I’ve had pleasure of digesting in quite awhile! Listened to the recording you attached to your wonderful share. I sang my heart out. Your writing is intimate and grand
Ooh, I have a picture like that one of you and your friends. And my uncle gave me beer at 10; my mother gave me bourbon and percocet at 13 for menstrual cramps. I didn't have a drinking song like that, but I sure did feel better with a drink in my hand. Yeah, none of it is funny but it is the truth. Knowing and telling. I'm sure that reading back through Treyf brought lots of knowing. It's true that there is space between knowing and telling. But sometimes telling helps with the knowing, maybe helps with the process of getting to the other side.
Wow. . .this story grabbed me in the solar plexus, my heart, my blurry memories of being three in a world of boozy adults. Wonderful beautiful story, Elissa. Thank you.
The boozy song the adults sang on car trips with my brothers and sister and me singing along:
"Daddy get your baby out of jail,
Buy me just a bottle full of ale,
They been treat'in me so mean,
They took away my cigarettes and my morphine."
Interesting - because I learned later it was a song from my father's World War II days and maybe that's what flyers sang to stay sane when (your dad and my dad) piloted the bomb dropping planes?
I loved reading your story. I too can't wait for your book. I loved the taste of bitter too - still do - i don't like sweet drinks at all. I love beer but it doesn't love me - even a few sips of a really good preservative free beer will have me feeling melancholy and depressed all the next day. So a tipple of good quality tequilla every now and again does the trick.
I had my first drink at a cast party, a bourbon-spiked punch that momentarily made me feel braver and prettier than I knew myself to be. Thirty years later, I found myself in the same commercial building, the same room where I first filled my cup, picking up a stack of white chips for my home group.
Oh, the truths we come to know aren't funny at all.
Ah Schlitz. I remember it well. I also recall hearing "you won't like it, it's bitter, but go ahead and try it." Black coffee. Liked it. Beer. Liked it. I feel like I missed out since no one ever taught me a drinking song, tho. Somewhere there's a photo of me cup of not-fresca held aloft in one hand, cigarette in the other. And a smile.
Thank you for this honest, beautiful essay. Can’t wait for your book! 📚✨
Your words resonate with my life experiences as a German Jew growing up in west LA.