Genuinely like the taste of alcoholic drinks?
Back when I was a drinker I used to firmly believe there was nothing better than an expensive bottle of red with a good meal. Or what could beat a cold beer on a hot day?
This is just another illusion of the drug.
However, it’s a particularly difficult wolf to see hidden in the sheep’s clothing.
I was such a wine bore that I even kept a tasting journal, so I could make note of all the rich flavors and so forth. Of course, if I was being truly honest with myself. I pretended to be a wine expert only to cover up and justify my heavy drinking.
Alcohol Tastes Like Poison
Alcohol tastes bad, there is no getting away from it. So, the drinks manufacturers have to come up with increasingly creative ways to cover up that awful taste. When people claim that they like the taste of alcohol what the really mean is they like the taste of alcoholic drinks.
Of course, you do, the drinks producers have to pull on every taste bud tantalizer they can. Take Bailey’s Irish Creme for example – this is pretty much a heart attack in a bottle.
Without the drug, there is no way on earth that most right minded people would sit down and gulp down glass after glass of fat mixed with sugar.
Think about that for a moment, would you ever consider buying a carton of full fat cream and drinking all in one evening. How sick would you feel? How much weight would you put on if that became a habit?
Your first interaction with alcohol is the truth
The first time you tasted alcohol was most likely the same way that I did… sneaking a sip of your father’s booze when he asked you to be a good boy or girl and bring him a glass of it.
I remember it like it was yesterday, I was eight years old and we had moved into our new home. It was so spacious and luxurious compared to the horrible apartment above a butcher’s shop that we had squeezed ourselves into while the building work got underway on what would be our family home for the rest of my childhood years.
All the furniture was brand new and my parents still insisted on leaving the plastic sheeting on everything to preserve the newness for as long as possible. The air was thick with the strong but not unpleasant smell of the new carpets.
Alcohol the magic liquid of grownups
My parents both came from humble ‘working class’ backgrounds and this house represented something very significant to them. It had stretched them to the limit financially and at times it seemed as though they had bitten off much more than they could chew. But yet, here they were at the end of the journey in their glorious new home.
Bigger and more splendid than anything anyone on either side of the family had ever managed to achieve.
You could sense the pride oozing from my dad as he quite literally sat on his new throne, the king of his castle. He surveyed his kingdom and was happy. Such a moment in life should be savored and cherished which he did as he called out for his eldest son and I came running.
“Be a good lad and get your dad a whiskey from the new drinks cabinet in the dining room”, he said with a huge grin.
The king wants his whiskey
I ran to my mother and asked her for a whiskey glass. She opened a velvet-lined box, like something that you would expect to contain precious jewels. Opening it she passed me a glass so new that it still had a sticker on the side.
It was so much heavier than it looked and I was quickly warned to be careful with it because it was ‘Crystal’, whatever that meant, certainly nothing significant to my eight-year-old self! But the warning in itself said that this was not just a guy having a drink this was some sort of very special ritual and both parents were acting like it was a big deal.
I remember thinking when I drink my milk I don’t have a special glass so what is so special about ‘this whiskey’ that it needs to be contained in something this extraordinary?
Enjoy the show
I carried the glass like it was a precious newborn baby bird resting in the palm of my hands. I walked into the dining room and flicked the light switch on, the new chandelier instantly filled the newly decorated room with warm light and I walked over to the drinks cabinet.
The whiskey was already on top in a decanter equally as elegant as the glass I had waiting to pour it into. Also made of thick, expensive crystal with a giant glass stopper it was almost too heavy to lift, but I managed. Splashing uneven shots of whiskey into the glass until it was about a third full.
The theatre of the drug
This was every small child’s biggest challenge, not only to have the responsibility of carrying something so expensive but then to fill it with liquid too – I was running the gauntlet.
This was perhaps the most important moment I had ever felt in my life, such pressure but oh what an honor. I remember feeling smug that there would be no way my younger brother Mark would be entrusted with such a task, he was a notorious spiller – this was way beyond him, a man’s job if ever there was one.
Walking even more slowly and delicately than before with the heavy glass now containing this strong-smelling but apparently magical liquid. I made it to the middle of the room before curiosity got the better of me; I nervously lifted the glass to my mouth. The first sensation to hit me was the smell, it was disgusting!
The smell is the first clue
It reminded me of the thick, black creosote that the groundskeeper at school used to mark out the football field with. Obviously, I then assumed the pleasure must come from the taste and not the aroma, for how could it… it was vile-smelling stuff.
Ignoring the smell and trusting in the hype I proceeded to take a large gulp of the golden water and waited for the magic to happen.
There was no magic… only fire! The burning liquid rushed through my young mouth and the most horrid medicine I had ever tasted assaulted my senses like a firework exploding in my mouth.
The burning horribleness spread everywhere in milliseconds and quickly hit the back of my throat. I coughed and spluttered the liquid all over the new dining table and onto the brand new cream carpet. I gasped and held back the urge to cry but I had made enough noise to send my mother running from the kitchen.
I was traumatized by the awful liquid but I also knew I was in big trouble because the firewater was strictly for grown-ups. If they found out I had tried it I would be grounded for a month.
There was no magic… only fire!
With less than a second to spare I tipped the full glass of whiskey over myself, soaking my PJ’s in the disgusting smelly liquid and started to cry, half to add credibility to my story and a half because I really wanted to cry.
When my mum burst into the room I sobbed that I had tripped and spilt my father’s whiskey. Once she realized I was not hurt her attention turned to her new carpet and I was ordered off to bed as she furiously dabbed at the liquor stains which now were speckled across the new floor.
I tugged off my wet PJ’s and threw them in the wash and lay on my bed wondering why on earth grown-ups could enjoy that horrible stuff so much?
I wondered… How can people get addicted to something that tastes so bad?
This is the first layer of false protection that people believe they have against developing a problem with alcohol. Even children who grow up in alcoholic homes can taste the stuff and confidently declare ‘I will never get hooked to alcohol like my Dad (or Mom) because it tastes horrible’.
What they can’t account for at this early stage is the power of alcohol to rewire your brain to believe all manner of crazy things that don’t make the slightest bit of sense to the sober mind.
Alcoholic Drinks 2.0
So what happens to the taste of alcohol over time? Do you think in the ten or twenty years since you had your first drink the manufacturers have found a way to make it taste better? Of course not… Alcohol tastes disgusting, it always has and it always will.
If you currently believe that you genuinely enjoy the taste of it then you should see this as evidence that the rewiring is complete and it has you trapped in the illusion. To people like me, you are standing in front of me chewing on an onion and claiming it’s the best apple you ever tasted.
The taste of alcoholic drinks has never changed – only your perception of it changes.
The drug performs this illusion so slowly that I can’t help be in awe of how well it achieves its first goal. Nobody develops a problem overnight; actually, the usual time period is closer to a decade than it is to a day. Such problems that develop so slowly embed themselves exceptionally deep in the subconscious mind.
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