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  • Writer's pictureDrunk as Lords

Drunk As Lords: Grad Week

For a guy that writes a lot about booze, I probably don’t drink nearly as much as it appears. Still, I felt I needed to lay down a base before things really got out of hand, sort of like laying sitting in the sun before going to the beach to lay down a basecoat of sun-damaged skin. Except this is for the liver. I’m not sure the science holds up, but that was the plan. I found myself using Bailey’s instead of milk for the morning coffee. A mid-morning bloody mary didn’t seem entirely unreasonable, even though I was negotiating two contracts by (somewhat slow-motion) email. In relaxed states of euphoria – even ones awash in mixed emotions - things really are never as reasonable as they appear on first brush.

At Sewanee it’s Grad Week for the simple reason that, the only hotel is the small but lovely university-owned Sewanee Inn and the slightly less lovely but clean Smokehouse Lodge. After that you are on the hook for a house rental, either a tony community called Clifftops or a nearby Episcopal summer camp called “the Assembly.” Which, I think you’ll agree is a very Episcopal way to put it. Because the house rentals on the mountain are weekly, and Sewanee is one of the prettier campuses on the planet, there is no good reason for the parents not to come up for the week – so they do. Look at it from our point of view, we’re already on the hook for the house, we’ve already thrown a hella lot of money at the university and at least one of its undergrads.

Grad week is a blizzard of mixed emotions and not just for the terrified graduate. The mere event of turning a child, your child, loose into the wild world is daunting, but selfishly, it just makes you feel old. Which leads to middle-aged people willfully starting to drink like the 22 year natives to catch a momentary glimmer of the glory days. When the world was your oyster (or so you thought), before the constraints of reality began to tighten and your best plans starting to go sideways.

Sewanee is not a place where a cocktail is wildly available, not to the public at any rate. The Sewanee Inn has a swell bar serving proper cocktails to parents trying to numb the shock of tuition, or celebrate that they were done. After that, though, the options narrow considerably to draft beer and wine – also on tap. There is the World famous in Tennessee Shenanigans, which is the cosmic idea of the college pub-grub, but it’s beer and cider. For parties they’ll open a full bar, but honestly, they aren’t very good at it.

So you are just going to get off you high horse and go native. Be warned – your child is of age, in fact, she’s about to be launched in the world as a functioning adult – there is no reason not to hoist one with her. Chances are that you don’t go out on a Wednesday – let’s face it, chances are that you don’t go out most Saturdays. Alas, it is just a glimmer, old bean, because your graduating child is still a scant 22 and still made of rubber and magic; and you, the proud parent, are not.


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