Liz Marsh

I drink a lot, but not nearly as much as the lady at my local liquor store thinks I do. As I map out my recent calendar in my head, I can see where the confusion came from.

Three weeks ago I was planning a party, so on Saturday morning I went to the liquor store and loaded up on everything my guests might want — beer, hard seltzer, wine, whiskey. For some reason when the clerk asked me about my plans for the weekend I told her I was gardening. It was technically true, I was on my way home to spend hours in my garden making it beautiful for my party. But it didn’t explain the large amount of alcohol I was buying.

Last weekend I stopped by the liquor store to buy booze for a pool party at my friend’s house. The party was on Sunday and I planned to spend Saturday weeding my vegetable garden and clearing out all the sumac that had sprouted up in the alley behind my house. The same clerk at the liquor store was helping me check out and we commiserated over the unusually wet spring we had, and all the weeds it brought. As she packed up my cart with boxes of wine and beer she wished me well on my gardening.

Yesterday I once again stopped by the liquor store, this time to stock up in advance of a family reunion and upcoming wedding. I would have house guests for nearly 10 days in a row and I wanted to make sure I had a good variety of beverages. The clerk gestured to my dirt-caked clothes and said, “gardening again this weekend?” And, with dawning horror, I realized that she’s under the impression that I am consuming hundreds of dollars of alcohol while gardening. She thinks that I garden HARD.

I think she probably pictures me pulling carrots out of my vegetable garden, a bag of wine strapped to me like an IV, my lawn littered with empty cans of White Claw. I’m sure she wonders how I can walk, let alone complete yard work, with the amount of booze I’m drinking.

And here’s my current conundrum, I need more alcohol already. Last night a bunch of my friends stopped by for an impromptu patio party. We sat in my gorgeous garden for hours, listening to music and drinking through my newly stocked bar. And my house guests arrive tonight. I have some gardening left to do — I have to mow my lawn and pull some weeds, and then it’s off to the liquor store. Again.

And when the clerk asks me about my day I will suddenly be aware of my general unkemptness, and the dirt under my fingernails. “Just gardening,” I’ll say with a shrug. She will smile politely and make a comment about how beautiful my yard must be. And when I leave she will probably turn to her co-workers and wonder aloud if “gardening” is code for “drinking problem.”

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