My youngest daughter turned 21 this week and I’ll have to report that it was a terrible experience for me. Not so much in the behavior of my daughter. As things evolved and she celebrated her 21st birthday with her sister and friends without any disappointing ritualistic flare, I will have to admit to some level of relief on that phase. But it was around the whole notion that the age of 21, held some intrinsic value that disturbed me in many degrees. One of the aspects of living that I have taught both of my girls is that drinking is not a big deal, and that under no circumstances should a person ever drink to get drunk, or “plastered.” I can’t stand the idea of drunkenness. I have had that viewpoint since I was a fetus, and it persists to this day.
As you might imagine, this puts me at odds with a vast portion of the population whom believe that drunkenness is some sort of rite of passage. Drinking with one’s fellows has a social merit to it that I despise.
Oh, it’s not that I dislike alcohol. I enjoy a good beer when I get one, for instance to celebrate my son-in-law’s birthday a few weeks prior we went to the Hafbrauhaus in Newport, which was considered a big deal since the Hafbrauhaus in Newport was the first of its kind to be built outside of Munich, Germany.
My son-in-law is from England where drinking beer starts around age 14 so visiting such places reminds him of home, and the Hafbrauhaus in Newport is really nice for that kind of thing. I ordered a dark beer in one of their famous liter mugs and enjoyed it so much that I drank it up in about 10 minutes. So I ordered another, which amounted to a two liter bottle of soda once I did the math. I ordered the first beer because I enjoyed it. I ordered the second beer to show my kids who were with me and their long time mutual friend who also just celebrated her 21st birthday, that drinking could be enjoyed without losing yourself to a despicable display of childish laughing and slurred speech. So by ordering the second beer and maintaining myself I hoped that they would learn something. Even in a festive environment like the Hafbrauhause I do not believe that losing one’s mind to drunkenness is acceptable, and by drinking two liters of very strong German beer, I can honestly say I suppressed any effects that the alcohol might have on me.
I learned long ago to do this suppression technique. Whether its 2 liters of Hafbrauhause beer or 10 cans of Coors beer, to me ritualistic drinking is about suppressing drunkenness and maintaining one’s composure, not surrendering to it. In my history you will not find a human soul who can report Rich Hoffman was ever drunk and off his rocker. I simply never let it happen in my entire 44 years of age. Even when running around with some of my old pirate friends who constantly sought to challenge each other with who was the strongest, and meanest, among us I can say that I once drank a whole bottle of Jack Daniels and 10 bottles of Coors in 20 minutes and drove everyone home at over 115 miles an hour. The rest of my friends who tried to keep up, couldn’t, and became drunk. One kid had climbed out of my car window which forced me to slow down so not to rip him from the car at such high speed. And it was a good thing too, because a cop was sitting on the side of the highway just a mile up the road, and when I passed by him my speed was down to 62 M.P.H. I was pulled over for reckless operation, allowing a passenger to ride outside of my car, and when the officer came to my window and saw all the beer bottles, empty Jack Daniels bottles and the sloppy faced gazes of my car’s occupants, the officer assumed that I would be an easy DUI for him and he became excited, like a child who was about to open a present on Christmas morning.
I got out of the car, walked the line on the side of the road backwards, forwards, and to be a smartass I did a hand stand and walked the line on my hands without the officer telling me to. This made the officer mad, so he wanted me to say the alphabet forwards then backwards, which I did three times without any mistakes. Then I had to lean back and touch my nose with my pointer finger from both hands which wasn’t a problem. Because I was not drunk. I did not allow my mind to be altered by the alcohol. It was simply a mind over matter trick. The officer was upset that he couldn’t give me a DUI, or an open container citation because all the containers were empty. And I explained that we had been to a party and the garbage cans were full, so we were going to throw them away at my friend’s house, which the officer did not believe, but he had no choice to accept. So he wrote me a citation for allowing a rider of my car to be outside of a moving vehicle.
I was 18 at the time and during that year the drinking age in the statehouse of Ohio had been changed to 21. For me, since this happened during the year that I turned 18, I would be able to purchase beer at age 19, but no liquor until age 21. Everyone after my age would have to wait till they were 21.
I remember how stupid I used to think the graduation parties were where 18 year olds would party on those hot June nights like life was coming to an end. I would look at bodies spread all over a living room, or back yard deck plastered from alcohol consumption and I would be baffled as to why. I always took pride in walking away from those events with my mind intact. I can’t imagine a circumstance where such weakness would hold any merit.
So I have watched firsthand what the results of the drinking age being raised to 21 have had on young people. Drinking in our culture is a rite of passage to adulthood. I think that’s personally a stupid gage of elderly status, but that’s how our culture views it. When politicians increased the drinking age, they created a whole new set of problems. They were taking away this rite of passage ritual at a younger age and postponing it until 21; this has put off adulthood for many young people and keeps them artificially immature much longer than is socially healthy.
Worse than anything however, the state, became the governing power of children and decided when a young person was an adult. This became very apparent to me as my youngest daughter rushed out to get her driver’s license changed from the underage shape to the standard “adult” shape. It shocked me how important all these little things were to her, because she wanted to be viewed as an adult, which I already had been doing with her for about 7 years.
Well, I took it personal, because I have let my kids drink if they wanted to since they were 12. I frowned down on it, but I let them drink at family functions and never gave them any restrictions about it. I did this for all the same reasons that drinking isn’t such a big deal to my son-in-law who has been able to drink beer from age 14, because it takes the mythology out of the drinking experience and allows kids to consider themselves as adults.
As family and friends gave my daughter presents for her 21st birthday I quietly had a built in fury at the bottles of alcohol and various items of drinking paraphernalia that she was getting as a present. It was as if everyone we knew had just accepted the stupid drinking age set by the state by a bunch of progressive politicians who were simply following the orders of big money in the insurance industry to find more ways to increase insurance premiums by creating a new class of risky driver, the repeat DUI offender. That’s what the drinking laws really come down to; it is about creating revenue for the state and insurance companies who back politicians. It’s a scam. But the effect the law has had on our culture has been terrible. Kids are putting off adulthood too long, they are drinking illegally for more than three years prior anyway, which cheapens their respect of the law which is socially destructive in itself. And even my daughter, who has been raised without mindless restrictions, felt the pressure set by the State of Ohio to get her new drivers license and identity that said she was now an adult.
Young people want to start communicating with adults at about 15 and 16, and they should be able to drink so that they can ease into adulthood much, much earlier than they do now. I have watched my kids, and their friends whom grew up at our house hit this 21 year old threshold with the kind of pain you might get from eating a whole gallon of ice cream too fast. I had to bite my tongue when I had to hear of drinking stories of little girls who used to play with my kids in our living room becoming so drunk on their 21st birthdays they could barely speak. It has been very painful for me to see people I care about WANTING to lose their minds so that they could celebrate adulthood. Only government could produce such a destructive paradox.
My daughter handled her birthday well. But during all the ceremonies a tinge of pain went up my spine with every gift given that involved alcohol. I kept my mouth shut and did my best to trust her, but it sucked.
It’s hard to explain to these kids what it was like before the State of Ohio and the rest of the nation road the back of bitchy undersexed Mad Mothers (MADD) and their progressive push to make the whole world SAFE. All that occurred was more regulation that made adulthood and the responsibilities that come with it postponed till a person is nearly a quarter of a century old! I began treating my kids as adults when they could first walk, because I wanted them to behave responsibly and to look to themselves, which I’m happy to report, they did on this 21st birthday ceremony. But for the other kids and peer groups around my girls, the drinking rituals have been delayed too long, and the state has overstepped its authority, becoming the symbol of influence over the parents. That’s why I cringed with each present involving alcohol. An entire industry has emerged to fill the market gap of turning 21 for young people, which is a threshold created entirely from the state, for use by the state to not only raise revenue internally, but to advance the “progressive” platform. You see, in just 20 short years from the event I described to you dear reader about my experiences, till my daughter turned 21, our entire society has grown to accept a state imposition without any question. People have forgotten what the world was like before the drinking laws were raised to 21. They have surrendered away a bit of their freedoms willingly and the immaturity that has spawned off onto the youth is unmistakable, but even in kids like my daughter, the state has shown it has authority over her and every member of my family that gave her a drinking gift because they just accepted the laws of progressive politicians without question.
It’s not just the innocence lost of a young person that has turned 21 and drank themselves into a loss of consciousness and disreputable disposition. It’s the authority of the state that is so willingly obeyed that disturbs me. It’s the hunger that young people have to brew in their minds for 3 to 4 years so they can walk into a grocery store and by a bottle of wine, or sit down in a restaurant and buy their date a drink with their dinner. For every young man who is 19 and 20 who takes his date to dinner and wishes to buy a bottle of wine can’t, because the state says that they are too young, they are not yet adults. So is it any wonder that these kids behave like fools and wait too long to start families. Is it any wonder that starting a family is not even something they are interested in now until their late 30’s, that they experiment with sexuality, and illegal drugs while in that limbo period of 18 to 21. From their view point they can’t behave like an adult for many years, so why grow up. And once they grow up they are so used to being immature that they carry some of that behavior into their 30’s, which is WAY too long.
Watching how important drinking was to kids I have helped raise was a grim reminder of how far our society has fallen to a state that has subtly over time robbed freedom, after freedom, after freedom in a quest to control every aspect of our lives, and for every celebration of the magical age of 21 that I have witnessed of late, I am reminded that the threshold of that age is not one created by divine influence, or even the decision by a parent, but from some pot-bellied politician with a comb-over who thinks it was their job to rule us all, and at the same time do their insurance lobbyists a favor by concocting new ways to put money in their pockets. Such thoughts are faraway considerations for these young 21 year olds. Because all they care about is having the STATE, not the parent recognize their authority to be an adult, which is one more nail in the coffin of the nuclear family losing ground to the “NANNY STATE.”
SEE THE WORLD THROUGH HOFFMAN LENSES: