My first form of sustenance in Ecuador was a glass of red wine. My host brother repeatedly tried to convince me to wash down the wine with some whiskey, and I had to explain in my usually-mediocre-but-made-worse-by-jetlag Spanish that I have a one-drink limit. Initially, my host family didn’t understand, but when I started to glow, my host mom smiled and patted me on the back: “Okay, now it’s time to dance!”
Let me explain. I come from a long line of women who cannot tolerate alcohol. My nana is 100 percent Japanese, my mom is 50 percent, and I am 25 percent. Even though one-quarter Asian is not a whole lot of Asian, people tell me they can really see it. Particularly after I’ve had a drink.
As a sophomore in high school, I diagnosed myself with an alcohol allergy. Most people are a little incredulous when I tell them that the smell of alcohol makes me tipsy and that I’m blasted after a few sips and that if I breach an unclear limit (somewhere around a full shot), I get hives all over my body. Asian glow is cute. Hives are not. And so, I usually steer clear of alcohol in favor of other routes to happiness.
But this summer, I had a revelation: red wine. It has antioxidants! It’s healthy! Oprah says to have a glass a day! It’s not about getting drunk; it’s about enjoyment. The fact that I’m drunk after a glass is just a perk. With wine, I still risk overindulging and breaking out in more ways than one, but it tastes so good! Red wine was my drink of choice in Ecuador, where I was free to drink and the drinks came cheap, but I was resigned to the prospect of an alcohol-abstinent school year. Most parties only offer beer and liquor, and for better or for worse, I hate the taste of beer, and liquor and I no longer get along. (We had some issues in the beginning of spring semester, which I will not recall here … partly because I can’t).
Then, I discovered something wonderful. A few weeks ago, I had my first taste of Franzia. It’s not good wine, but it’s good enough. I had overlooked this boxed treasure as a freshman, but now, cheap alcohol horizons broadened, I look forward to a sophomore year filled with rosy drinks and rosier cheeks.