Why I’m Proud to Be a LUPEC Girl

12 Mar
How the Wisconsin North Woods taste

How the Wisconsin North Woods taste

Not too long ago, we had an organization turn us down. Basically, their sentiment was this: “We’re just not sure affiliation with a drinking group is the right message to send to the girls we encourage to make positive choices. Thanks, but no thanks.”

As I told Italian Stinger, it’s not the first time this has happened. And it won’t be the last. But it’s an interesting point to ponder.

We are a group dedicated to: 1) serving and enjoying fabulous cocktails together, and 2) raising money and awareness for charities that benefit women or children or both. Along the lines of item #2, we are drawn to organizations that seek to empower young women. And, on occasion, when those organizations hear or see the word “cocktail” in our group’s name, they–well, they freak out. They forget that our name begins with “Ladies United….”

I suppose it’s easy to understand how an organization that works hard to steer young girls’ paths away from alcohol might find support from “Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails” somewhat of a mixed message.

But is it really a mixed message?

Let us not even get into the fact that both of the organizations that have kindly refused our support hold huge galas at which significant money is spent on serving alcohol to its donors. Let’s instead focus on LUPEC and who we are or are not.

We are not “Underage Teenage Girls United for the Preservation of Getting Wasted.” That would make a terrible acronym. UTGUPGW sort of sounds like the end result of such a group’s meetings.

We are, however, ladies. Grown up women. We have esteem for what’s hip and cool, yes. And fun. But we also hold high the virtues of self-respect. And manners. And respect for others.

When I prepared for last month’s meeting, as the hostess, I found myself stressing a little. I’d taken on the month for Bees Knees, whose move into a new home made it a bit unthinkable to host. And, as February was such a short month, with lots going on for everyone, I chose to have it on a weeknight to accomodate the most schedules. Ugh. Come straight home from work and get cranking on food and drink prep. But, by midday, as I looked ahead to the evening, I remembered that I would be among LUPEC girls. All of whom have hosted before. All of whom do not expect perfection, but rather a warm welcome and a good cocktail.

And as I made my way home by way of Divino, where they had my cognac and pisco ready to pick up at the counter because I’d called ahead (LOVE THEM), I thought fondly of my mom’s best friend Mary, my inspiration for one of the drinks planned for the menu. She introduced me to the Brandy Old Fashioned, a favorite among Wisconsonites. When visiting the lake house that she and her husband Pat own in Minocqua, WI, it is positively mandatory to fix a nice drink, walk down to the pier, and board their pontoon boat for a languid sunset cruise at the end of every day. We chat, we laugh, we inhale the North Woods all around us, and we talk about dinner plans.

The drink is not the thing. When we’re there, we don’t have Old Fashioneds so as to get drunk. We have Old Fashioneds because their taste is a tradition. A shared experience. We love them because Bosacki’s Boat House in town, where we stop before arriving to the cabin, makes the very best Brandy Old Fashioned in the world. And consequently, when I’m ordering or making an Old Fashioned–in Minocqua or elsewhere–I’m not ordering alcohol. I’m ordering a taste of mutually shared memories. I’m visiting with Mary, a wonderful woman who’s been a part of my life since I was five years old. I’m recalling in my mind’s eye, as I taste the bitters mingled with muddled orange, the sight of my mom’s figure on the pier, silhouetted against the backdrop of the lake as she scans its surface for the loons. Her “loonies,” she calls them.

I am transported. Not by alcohol, but by mindful enjoyment of life.

In my years as a LUPEC girl, I have learned so much more than a few drink recipes. I have learned how to craft them and serve them amongst discussion and conversation in the ambiance of a home, as opposed to the overpriced frenzy of a bar. The result is that, when I drink, I think carefully about what I order. The same way I would when ordering food from a menu. What mood do I wish to invoke? What flavors shall I savor, along with the memories they’ll conjure? What taste will tonight’s memories take on?

That is what “having a cocktail” is all about.

In this way, I am proud of the model I would set for any young lady. I do not believe alcohol is to be feared. I believe, instead, that a lack of culture and respect are to be feared. Drinking without thought to what or how much you’re putting in your body. Drinking to detach from life, rather than to draw closer to it. Drinking any mess you can get your hands on. Adults behave this way. These are the worrisome behaviors at the heart of what we strive to address when we talk about the “endangered cocktail.”

So, as we gather gently worn formal wear for our upcoming event benefitting school-age youth who are just embarking on what it means to be growing up, dressing up, and going out for an occasion, I can’t help but smile at how fitting it really is. We’re contributing to self-esteem and self-respect. We’re strengthening the idea that it’s important to have fun–as long as it’s age-appropriate. And, finally, despite getting turned down by our first intended organization for this cause, we persevered, just like ladies united for any good cause should.

Just like Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails would.


5 Responses to “Why I’m Proud to Be a LUPEC Girl”

  1. Kir Royale March 12, 2009 at 9:11 am #

    Well put, GerRee!
    I often second guess my involvement in LUPEC, mainly because ‘I am not that into drinking,’ but, you just succinctly summarized why LUPEC holds an important place in my heart! I’ve never been into mindless drunkeness, but creating perfect cocktails to compliment discussion and quality time with good friends is exactly what I am in to. A good cocktail is like the perfect spice that is sometimes missing from a moment…and I love spices.

  2. Grasshopper March 12, 2009 at 4:53 pm #

    Hell yes. Beautifully and thoughtfully written, and PRECISELY why I love LUPEC!

  3. The Vamp March 13, 2009 at 2:36 pm #

    Here, here.

  4. The Brazen Hussy March 16, 2009 at 1:16 am #

    Indeed. LUPEC is about the camaraderie of wise and interesting ladies, the chance to make an impact in the world in our own little ways, and the cocktails we share are just icing on the cake.


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