True story. The year is 1989. I’m in a bar illegally with my Mom and older brother. Snuck in with a fake ID.  It’s Mom’s Weekend at college and one of the annual highlights is drinking in a bar with your Mom. I’m with a bunch of my friends, my brother’s friends and our Moms. Sounds lame, but when you’re 19 and have spent the better part of the last five years fighting with your Mom about stupid shit, it’s good to put it behind you over a few drinks.

So I finish my first drink and I walk up to the bar to order another.

“Double Absolut with cranberry” I say to the bartender.

To my right are two of my friends’ mothers, Jane and Judy.

“What did you just order?” Judy asks.

“Double Absolut with cranberry.” I say. And I’m feeling pretty proud of myself. I just ordered a double, proof of my tolerance. And I just ordered a name brand vodka, proof I’m no cheapskate. (Granted, I’m a tremendous cheapskate, but Mom was running a tab, and sponging off your parents is a college kid’s moral obligation.)

The mothers, well, not quite as impressed with me as I am.

“No you’re not.” Jane says.

She waves the bartender away from the vodka.

“Isn’t it time you started drinking like a grown up?” Jane asks, but I know it’s rhetorical. “He’ll have a Dewars and water, with a twist.”

“But, I don’t like Scotch.” I say it, but not with much conviction. I’m outnumbered, and I’ve got the whole “respect the grownups” instinct.

“Its an acquired taste” Judy says.

And by that, she means the first one will taste terrible.

“Ack” I say, in my best Bill the Cat impersonation. It is terrible.

Neither woman flinches.

“Drink it,” they say in unison, “the next one will be better.”

And it is. A little. And by the third or fourth, I’m actually starting to like it. Or I’m drunk. But regardless, I hold my own, drinking Scotch with a couple seasoned veterans, and by the time I leave the bar, they have convinced me that I am now a Scotch drinker.

“Listen,” Jane or Judy says, “a grown man doesn’t walk into a bar and order anything with cranberry. It’s Scotch. Or a martini. A beer. Understand?”

I do, and I say as much. Or slur as much.

True story. That’s how I started drinking Scotch. About 20 years ago. And sure, maybe those women were a different generation. Maybe the definition of a man or masculinity has changed or evolved. Maybe a secure heterosexual man today can be comfortable walking into a crowded bar and ordering something fruity. Maybe all those things are true. Whatever. I just like it. Although I drink it on the rocks now.  A twist and water are for schoolgirls.