When I look back on memorable life moments they are often comprised of my little acts of rebellion. And really, when I say “little”, I mean little. Despite my attempts to to actually be a rebellious kid, which I honestly do believe is my nature, I’m just too “good” of a kid to actually rebel in a meaningful or real way. That said, rebellion is part of my nature.
Somehow, this idea crystalized as I went to the fridge tonight to grab a beer.
For those who have been around me with frequency over the last year, you know that my beer of choice is Pacifico. As I grabbed my Stanford bottle opener (which sadly has run out of batteries and no longer plays “All Right Now”) I wondered how this happened.
This requires a bit of backstory.
I never had an intentional sip of alcohol until I was 22 years old. That’s right, I was one of those squares who just never drank as a kid, and even when I did begin to drink (during the summer of my first year of law school) it was because I didn’t want to seem weird at the social functions thrown by the firm with which I interned. And I use the term “intentional”, well, intentionally, because the only lick of alcohol I had before I was 22 was because my kid sister “accidentally” gave me a frozen daquiri from the freezer one night after I was hot and thirsty after Tae Kwon Do practice when I was 16.
Even though I drank during that 1L summer, I still didn’t actually drink. When I returned to law school for my second year I was still straightedge. My friends would go to parties and bars and I would sip my coke and call it a night. It helped that for the most part, my law school friends were just as square as I was, so alcohol wasn’t central to our bonding experience.
It wasn’t until after graduation, when I started my Big Firm job, that my drinking went from a “please let me not seem like a weirdo” to “huh, I actually quite enjoy this stuff” phase. I haven’t looked back.
At first I was kind of scared of beer. I didn’t love the taste, it was so filling, and it seemed kind of lame to order a beer when everyone else was ordering X and tonics. So I went through a phase wherein I only drank gin and tonics. Then I moved to vodka tonics. Then I went to margaritas, which, well, let’s just say tequila and I are no longer on speaking terms.
Then came the fateful day where my firm sponsored an event where we went on a tour and tasting at San Francisco’ Anchor Steam Brewery. Anchor, as it’s referred to in SF, is a bit of an institution. It was local, it was good, it was on tap all over the city, and it became my drink of choice for over two years. It was hoppy, dense, and it made me feel like a real San Franciscan. That sounds so lame to actually type out.
Ok. I’m meandering. So let me cut this short. Ish.
I would bounce around for the next few years from liquor, beer, and wine. Wine became a prominent fixture, as most of friends loved to going to wine bars and fancy dinners. Just as things were starting to become intolerable at my firm, my friends and I began to frequent, often three times a week or more, a nearby wine bar in the financial district. I have so many positive memories of these “happy” hours, but I specifically remember one day realizing that I kind of hated wine.
Ok, hate is a strong word.
But I didn’t enjoy it, at least not enough to shell out $15-20 for a glass, particularly when, let’s face it, I wasn’t just drinking one glass. So one day, when we went to the wine bar, I perused their very limited beer menu, which included Belgian beers, local brews, and the aforementioned Anchor, and picked the cheapest one on the menu: Pacifico.
And that was that.
It is so embarrassing to admit now but I took so much pleasure out of going to that wine bar, sitting with a table full of lawyers whose combined income easily exceeded $1 million, drinking a $3 beer. I would order it every time, leading to the kind waitresses to have a cold one popped open and on my table by the time I had taken off my jacket and scarf.
It’s a funny phenomenon, really. As I made more money and worked my way up the ranks at my job I increasingly and intentionally engaged in little private rebellions that, while they seemed like endearing quirks, meant so much to me. By the 5th year at my job I had gone from wearing business formal/casual 5 days a week to coming to work in jeans and Converse. I never wore my hair up as a first and second year, but years later there would be weeks where I wore my hair in a messy ponytail every day. My boss would rattle on about how messy my office was and I would simply make it messier. I would look at my shiny BMW, which I shamefully admit I bought primarily for status reasons, with immense shame. “Look at the fucking sellout” I’d think to myself. And so I would do stupid little things to prove to myself that I wasn’t one of THEM (then again, I intentionally drove my car down to Coachella just to fuck with all the hipsters — rebel was the name of the game).
Which is so dumb. Sometimes you’re too busy rebelling (or being preoccupied with rebelling) to actually just be who you are. I don’t actually dislike wine. I just think I do in my head because of everything it represents to me based on my upbringing: white, rich, elitist, bourgeois. I mean, that’s just an idiotic thing but as I stayed at my job it became real to me. And so I drink my cheap-ass beer (usually either Pacifico or Bud Light).
A friend made a comment the other day that made me smile quietly to myself: “It’s really nice to finally see you get to be yourself.” I’m not going to lie, it’s really nice to finally be myself. Even if that means I’m a BMW driving, blue haired Asian chick who wears army jackets and drinks cheap beer.