“This isn’t for me. I don’t understand how my father could have enjoyed this. Something that tastes bad, makes me lose some of my God-given facilities for a while, is not productive of my time, costs money, and enables me to continue to wallow in self-pity seems pretty stupid, if you ask me.”
This quote is from one of the main characters in my second novel Temptations of the Innocent. The protagonist had bought her a drink at a bar. This was her first experience with alcohol and her reaction is after one or two sips of straight whiskey.
Alcohol is an acquired taste because of its perceived benefits. Coffee (of which I just finished my first cup of black in the pre-6 AM darkness) is another example (the benefit of increased alertness from the effects of the caffeine). She had not processed more than a couple of sips and therefore did not experience any benefit and the subsequent temptation to drink more. Hence her innocent reaction to alcohol, a point of view we seem to subdue after experiencing alcohol’s pleasing effects.
I wrote that quote probably sometime in late 2015 or early 2016, and quite possibly while enjoying a beer. I had long ago acquired the taste for beer, sometime in high school, and since then beer had become a regular companion – not daily, but certainly I’d enjoy a couple several days a week. I was a casual enjoyer of beer and wine, as years earlier the “perceived detriment” of a bad hangover became a strong enough deterrent to limit any imbibing to a few.
Maybe that snippet stuck with me in my subconscious. A few months ago, as I was standing in the shower feeling not hung over but drained after having consumed one more glass of wine than I should have the night before, I began to search for a reasonable response to the essence of my character’s stance on alcohol. I could find none, and since that day, I haven’t had a drink. I’m not opposed to moderate alcohol consumption nor have I quit, I just simply haven’t had a desire to drink. I may have lost the acquired taste for it, I don’t know.
Perhaps I didn’t write that scene just for the readers of novel, maybe it was subconsciously for me as well. That makes me wonder – when we write fiction, do we unknowingly embed messages to ourselves? If so, what hidden nuggets about our desires and goals are woven within our novels and short stories? Do we sometimes write fiction to unlock a desired reality?
As for me, I am thankful that I have never written a scene about the negative aspects of coffee. Yet.