Although I am sceptical about the idea that alcoholism is imprinted in the DNA, I often wonder whether my problematic relationship to alcohol is in any way connected to the alcoholism of my father and my grandfather. Am I simply repeating their idiocy in a new form? I honestly don’t think so. And still I cannot let go of the thought that there is some kind of connection between their vices and my problematic relationship to alcohol. My go-to argument that I always use when I want to confirm the ‘DNA-imprinted alcoholism theory’ is the story of the first time I got drunk.
It was around the time of my confirmation so I must have been 13 years old. It was a Friday and my mother and her husband were out of the house. Visiting my mother’s brother, I think. Earlier in the day, my best friend and I had bought a small bottle of Smirnoff vodka. The one with the curvy body. For some reason, we had managed to persuade the seller that the vodka was for my older sister. As soon as my mother and her husband had left the house, my friend and I prepared drinks - vodka & Coca Cola - and within half an hour, the bottle was empty. We were sitting on the couch in the livingroom talking and suddenly I found myself lying on the floor laughing hysterically at something my friend said. I remember being really surprised at the effects of the alcohol. I had probably expected the drunkenness to assert itself gradually but the experience was immediate and so much more fun than I could ever have anticipated. For the next couple of hours I don’t think we did anything else except try to make each other laugh. My mother had some weird looking swords hanging on the wall (this was 1984…) and at one point we took them down and had a half-hearted sword fight. Later in the night, we went for a walk. At one point we passed the house of a girl that I was madly in love with so I started to shout out her name. My friend really didn’t like that. When we returned to our house, I wanted to find more alcohol but my friend was worried that my mother and her husband might find out what we had been up to when they got back. At that point I couldn’t care less so I opened a Tuborg Gold and had one sip before realising that I didn’t like the taste at all. We threw out the bottles and went to bed.
The reason why this story is my go-to argument for the ‘DNA-imprinted alcoholism’ theory – and thus also for why I am repeated my father’s idiocy - is that it proves to me that I can’t control drinking alcohol. Why else would I insist on getting more alcohol when we were both really drunk? My friend didn’t want to continue drinking alcohol so he was clearly capable of controlling his intake of vodka. I wasn't.