How Alcohol Has Ruined Potato Chips For One Woman... And Other Tragedies

Writer/publicist Sloane Crosley treats us to a glimpse into her history with demon liquor in today's Times. The worst thing about alcohol? A bad tequila experience ruined Lay's potato chips for her forever.

In most respects, Crosley's drinkin' trajectory is not unusual: after the Lay's incident, it takes her a while to "get" drinking.

I felt the same way about drinking as I did about using public restrooms. That is to say, I felt like I was missing something fundamental to the experience. I will never grasp what other women are doing in there that I am not. Especially if there’s no mirror. Men tend to think my restroom speed should be a source of pride. Instead, it just makes me question my own hygiene habits. Similarly, my distaste for liquor did not strike me as morally admirable, but as one more bullet point on the list of things that were freakishly wrong with me. I was not under the illusion that my body was my temple. In fact, all I wanted was to make my body my garbage disposal like the rest of my peers. But I just couldn’t.

Then, after spending time in Scotland, alcohol becomes a way of life. She becomes a Makers/Martini/vodka-soda girl with a passing knowledge of wine and a love of beer, who drinks for pleasure but rarely, at 30, gets drunk-drunk anymore. In other words, a fairly average American drinker.

I had learned to love drinking the way you learn to love anything — by letting it go — and by the time I returned to New York, I was legally of age to drink or not drink as I pleased. And the rest is history. History between me and my vital organs.

We've heard a lot lately about the increase in female alcohol consumption, but this is one of the first acknowledgments I've seen of the food-ruining properties of fire water. And I'd venture to say that this may be a more pressing and problematic issue for us dames as our male counterparts. Crosley actually spews into a bag of Lays'; for most of us, just regurgitating is quite damning enough for the food in question — even if it was just sitting there minding its own business before we decided to douse it in conflicting fermented substances; or even if it was trying to calm the pangs of a drunk tummy. As Crosley says, it's always the food that pays the price rather than the alcohol, which carries the horrible associations and sense memories. (Exception: Angostora Bitters.)

Of course, you don't need to be drunk to have bad food-vomiting associations: a childhood of migraines can result in a lasting distaste for coke syrup — designed to soothe the stomach, but more often greeted in unhappy recognition a few minutes later chez toilet. Stomach flu can ruin just about anything for anyone. And a large sack of Wine Gums consumed during a four-hour French film can do its own dirty work, thanks very much. But none of these unhappy associations carries the taint of self-disgust that an alcohol-ruin does. Had you only eaten more/not mixed drinks/had beer first/gotten that round you didn't want/had more water! You think. And then there's the shame of Not Holding Your Liquor, which really shouldn't be a source of shame at all, but in a world where a woman is supposed to be crazy/sexy/cool/also feminine at all times, sort of is. All of this is to say nothing of hangovers, and when someone needs to take the blame, it's going to be that innocuous sleeve of Ritz crackers, not some versatile mixer. If Lay's is the worst casualty Crosley can claim, she's in pretty good shape, really. Pringles, on the other hand, would be a tragedy.

Letting The Chips Fall [NY Times]