Friday, September 26, 2014

The Perils of Being Good

I will take literally any excuse to pull this photo out.

One time, I hid a bottle of vodka in a dresser drawer in my bedroom back at my parents' house.

The story of that vodka is one of many episodes of my life that probably tell you all you need to know about me.

Let's back up a couple of steps, though, and explain how it got there. The summer after my first year at college, I needed a job. I found an ad online for cleaning apartments and figured, hey, I could do that. When I signed up they asked if I had any preferences as to who I would be working with. I requested not to work with a man (you spent approximately 8 hours a day alone in apartments with this person, and it made 19-year-old me uncomfortable) and was told they had one other new hire who was about my age and a girl, and figured we'd get along fine.

So I show up for the first day and the other girl is someone I went to high school with - and sure enough, we got along just fine.

The job was straight-forward; we went around apartment complexes that primarily rented to ISU students and cleaned after the students had moved out for the summer. Supplies were provided, we had a decent lunch break, and more than once Kate and I were able to take quick twenty-minute naps, listen to loud pop radio, and even once make a mid-day run to Dairy Queen. That Moolatte was so good I still remember it, and it's the only one I've ever had.

One of the assigned 'perks' was that you could keep interesting or useful stuff you found as long as it was legal. That basically didn't come up; the most 'interesting' thing that we found was a kitchen floor full of crushed potato chips in an apartment that four guys had purposefully ruined to make it harder for the cleaning crew.

(Most apartments took us a couple of hours to clean. Four-bedrooms like that might take four hours. That apartment took almost two days.)

One day, we found some pot paraphernalia. The two of us being who we were, we actually had to talk about it for a while before we really understood what it was.

Our manager, a guy about ten years older than us, promptly confiscated that when we reported it to him.

Well, on another day, I found this bottle of vodka.

It was half-empty and stuck in someone's freezer. It seemed a waste to pour it out, and our manager would likely confiscate this, too; although I had no delusions that it would make it into the trash if he took it. Our manager wasn't one to waste good alcohol, and as I was a year into college I wasn't one to waste good alcohol either.

So I took it home. I stuck it in the trunk, took it home and hid it in a dresser in my bedroom. I was home with my parents for the summer. I looked at it fairly often the first couple of weeks, trying to convince myself to drink it. It was illicit! Forbidden! This was supposed to be exciting or fun or something!

Except for one problem.

I had always been raised to not drink, and there were some pretty clear rules. My parents understood that going to college meant a level of freedom you had to allow your children; no more curfew (a college student had just spent a year living without one; reimposing it is just ridiculous) and we just didn't talk about what I might have gotten up to. My mother was probably aware I'd had a drink or two... in Carbondale.

My parents did not allow drug use or drinking. Granted I was completely uninterested in the former (and still am uninterested; I think I remain the only person other than Jason with an art degree I've ever met who never even tried it) but under their roof, no drinking. And until I graduated high school, that was never an issue... I wasn't interested in it then, either.

But at college...

I kept that bottle of vodka in my dresser drawer.

I never opened it. I just couldn't. It would mean drinking under my parents' roof. Legal adult or not, I simply could not do it. My parents had given me a lot of trust in my life; they had been okay with fudging curfews sometimes if we were seeing a late movie. They asked to know who I was with and where I was, but didn't judge my myriad of goth or punk rock friends. They treated me like I deserved to be trusted, so I'd never been able to bring myself to break that trust.

I couldn't drink the vodka.

Even if they never knew, some part of them would be disappointed in me and not know why.

So I left it there. I forgot about it after a few weeks and went on with my life.

A few years later, as we were getting some of the last of my stuff out of the room before my mom converted it with my permission into a guest bedroom, the bottle of forgotten vodka was found, languishing still untouched. She asked me about it. I had legitimately forgotten where it came from or how it had gotten there. Eventually, I remembered and told her.

I'm not sure if she's ever believed me.

But there you go; my big rebellion was to sneak a bottle of alcohol into my parents' house. I am just one big after-school special, aren't I?

Even then, I couldn't rebel enough to actually disobey their rules and drink it.

You know what the funniest part is?

I'm the black sheep of my parents' three children. I was the rebel. I was the one who wore all black and lots of eye makeup and listened to loud punk music and dated boys with blue hair. I put Kahlua in milk one time when there was a bottle of Kahlua in my parents' cabinet (I assume for a recipe). My siblings got exceptional grades and full-ride scholarships and I've mentioned my sister is an actual living saint and my brother a genius, right?

I was the bad kid, by comparison.

Yet the worst thing I ever did was hide a bottle of vodka I couldn't even bring myself to actually touch.

(It's at this point I'm kind of hoping Audra takes after me...)


  1. Replies
    1. Whatever. You totally won the how-good-are-my-kids award.

  2. i'm another art kid with no interest in drugs if that makes you feel less outnumbered ;) nothing wrong with being a good girl

    1. Haha, I forgot about you! I should probably edit the post to reflect that.

  3. Heh, that's a pretty funny anecdote. I was raised in a non-drinking household too, but to my parents' credit (or maybe...not-credit) they also nurtured my unbridled, hyperactive nature to the point where I don't have a lot of inhibitions to unlock. Anyway, I do love how much this combination of "good kid" and "rebellious spirit" comes out personality-wise in your writing. This story is a pretty great encapsulation, at least of the Katie I get a window into with your blog. :)


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