Trollied Dollies

For awhile, I lived in fear that CYF's would come knocking at the door because my daughter had started her morning talk with something along the lines of "Yesterday, we had a family dinner and my Dad gave me wine." She was five at the time and so I was well aware that it would be a tricky conversation when they did show up and was hypersensitive that it was really not a good look. Sure, it had been half a thimble full in a glass of lemonade and while I looked aghast and asked if this was perhaps the early signs of senile dementia and the five year old looked decidedly excited and asked if we were all going to get drunk – I had that distinct Alison–at-the-mad hatter's-place moment. When it was explained to her that wine was like fire – if you have a tiny bit with your family and really nice food every now and again it's like a cosy fire that warms the house. He also explained that if you have more than just a little and you're drinking in bad company then it can burn the whole house down and everyone in it. Slightly heavy stuff for a Sunday lunch for a five year old but I think she got the general idea. Not wishing to undermine this Little House on the Prairie moment I asked later if he was out of his mind giving alcohol to someone so small. He was quick to point out that it seemed perfectly acceptable for 15 year old girls to be running shoeless completely trollied on RTD's and throwing up in public in New Zealand and yet it was not acceptable to teach your children how to enjoy and respect alcohol in a family environment. He felt the problem was in my culture not his. Hard to argue. For that matter he continued – the whole 'sober driver' idea is a total crock and an indication of just how mental our attitude to alcohol really is. What I saw as responsible mate-ship he saw as total abdication of responsibility by everyone else for that night – by having a designated driver you were subconsciously giving everyone else the license to get themselves completely bladdered for the evening and effectively write themselves off. This, he insisted would never happen in Argentina – one because whoever was left sober would take off with everyone else's girlfriends – but also because you went out with your mates to have a few drinks so that you could enjoy their company. Not so that you could scrape them off the floor and let them throw up in your car. As for women – well they just never got drunk to the state that he'd seen women here and, more disturbingly to him, young girls just couldn't be in a state so out of control, alone, in a public place. "How is it, he asked 'that something really bad doesn't happen to these girls?" Insisting that men's bad behaviour shouldn't be women's responsibility, he stopped me. 'You shouldn't throw the pigs the kumara if you don't want them to get eaten.' Fair enough. I couldn't say that nothing ever happens to these girls because, of course – it does. Dr. David Wells, a professor of Forensic Medicine at Melbourne studying the incidence of date rape has found that the increasingly young female victims of sexual assault – and this is in no way justifying that horror, were heavily intoxicated with alcohol not drugs. In Wellington GP Cathy Stephenson, who often deals with such victims also backs up his findings with her clinical practice and that of many GPs round the country. She believes that the amount of alcohol consumed by the young has gone up astronomically while the age of its victims continues to decrease.Kids just aren't getting it. Not the message that the government or doctors are giving them. What they are getting, is the mega muscle of alcohol advertising and the subconscious messages a heavy drinking culture gives them. Still.

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