I’ve been called many things in the last few years: chick, lady, ma’am (that one was a bit ouchy), woman, and something I won’t repeat here. Every time, I think to myself “gee, can’t we come up with something better?”. The answer, my friends, is not “girls”.

When I started drinking, it was often “what would the lady like?” at the bar before someone took my order. I no longer go to bars, but the sentiment is usually the same at restaurants or lounges. Sometimes, while in a group of women, we’re referred to as “girls”. This is used in various discourse communities, not excluding some of my peer group.

I’m not particularly fond of using “girl” to describe myself, especially when it’s relating to booze. I don’t know why it makes me react so, but it does. My fella doesn’t go out with “the boys”, and I don’t hang out with “the girls”. Now a woman entering what will arguably be my middle-years, I’m so far from being a girl: white hair (which yes, I still dye), laugh lines around my smile and eyes, and the ever-increasing hip-span – all communicate the bloom is well off this girlhood’s flower. I’m very okay with that.

As a girl, we over-indulged to the extreme. Alcohol was a source of courage, a key to ideas and thoughts locked by fear of criticism and a lack of self-assurance. This often led to a good friend holding my hair back as I not-so-delicately vomited (then known as “hurled”) into the toilet of some stranger’s house (I hope it was the toilet).

As a lady, I get tipsy. No one, including my fella, has had to hold my hair back while I vomited – into my toilet, or that of anyone else. We enjoy a nice glass of wine, savour a peaty Scotch, and occasionally throw back a few cocktails. But we don’t get girl-drunk. Not anymore.

I’ll happily be a tipsy lady over a drunken girl, any day.

~ Jeannette


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