By the time I was eight, I knew how to pour the contents of a beer can into a travel mug without foam. I used to joke that this is why I later became a kickass bartender and waitress in my college days, a side-benefit of being the daughter of an alcoholic.
My father was a high-functioning alcoholic. He never missed a day of work due to drinking, and gave it up every Lenten season as easily and selflessly as Jesus himself had given his body and his blood for the sins of every Catholic.
No one ever questioned why he kept going back to it, if he obviously had the willpower to stay dry for 40 days and 40 nights. It would only have been considered staying “dry” if he were officially an alcoholic trying to not drink, and that was not something he or anyone around him ever acknowledged. When he was alive, those words were never spoken. No one was in denial, I don’t think. They knew he was an alcoholic, but they didn’t see it as quite a problem, and he did his best not to make it one. They probably figured, why try to fix what wasn’t exactly broken?
My father was larger than life to me, even after I hit my adult height of 5’6’’ and we stood eye to eye. He was stocky and strong; he was built like a bulldog and walked with the cocky self-assurance that is the birthright of every Latino male. I’ve been told I walk like him, and when I hear these words, comparing my stride and carriage to that of my father’s, I beam with a ridiculous level of pride. His astrological sign was the lion, the Leo; king of the jungle and his world, just like his father, just like the man I married, though I’d sworn I would marry someone who didn’t remind me so much of my father. Although I married another Leo, my husband is a man who rarely drinks. Still, I’ve never judged my father for his drinking. My dad was the strongest man I have ever known; the craving for beer was just his achilles heel. Every superhero has a weakness.
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