Drunkentines/Sex Noises

$4 Wine

I want to be known, and loved, and intellectually and sexually adored constantly by everybody. I want each party to be a glimmering climax where I utterly belong. 

Enter Valentine’s Day weekend: a playground of hungry hearts and lonely bodies. 

Weather: drunk.  

Ethos: thirsty. 

Drake summarizes the prevailing feeling: “I need a girl who gon’ love me/I need a girl who gon’ trust me/Someone to fuck me/Someone to make me feel lucky/Someone that’s so proud to be with me.”

Moscato

(Party; in exchange for my sparkling presence)

I’ve been stomping the slushy streets of Cambridge the past couple evenings, scenic in my loneliness, wallet fat from babysitting. I’m stalking down a slutty senior spring dress. What I find is a slutty senior spring romper: black lace, air-delicate, and more ass cheek than Harvard Square ever knew it wanted. As Kim Addonizio might have written had she been more fashion forward:

I want a black romper

I want it flimsy and cheap

I want it too tight. I want to wear it

Until someone tears it off me.

And then someone does. “You have a perfect body,” the rando is saying. It’s Friday night, shit’s gotten tipsy yet still affirmatively consensual, and we’ve ditched the party to make sweet love on my bed in the common room. “I always like a white woman with a great ass.”

Sexual experiences teach me new things. For example, Rando’s name. For another example, I never realized I was a great ass person. I always thought I was a mediocre ass person, and a great tits person. Women can have it all!

At this point, my roommate stumbles in. It’s 3 a.m.: From the door, to the bathroom, right past where Rando and I, in states of compromising undress, are rompering.

Cue the retching.

I jump out of bed naked and knock at the bathroom door. “Hey, baby, how are you doing? Do you want anything? Water? Me to hold your hair back?”

“No,” he slurs between vomit sounds.“No,no. It’s okay. It’s cleansing!”

I hover nervously for a second and then return to aforementioned sweet lovemaking to the barf soundtrack.

“Hey dude!” says Rando to Roommate when the latter emerges cleansed and in his boxer shorts, because it’s not at all gay to chat with another dude naked while you’re engaging in intercourse with his friend. “How’s it going, bro? Good night?”

“Great night,” says Roommate, pleasantly.

Cheap White Wine

(Hanging out in room; bonding)

The boy stays the night, pretty against my pillow in the clear-lit morning, but that’s not the important thing. The important thing is later Saturday, my head on Roommate’s lap as we lay on the couch talking.

“We have to chat about last night,” Roommate says.

Oh God, oh shit, I think, he felt icky. “I’m so sorry,” I tell him. “Did I make you uncomfortable? Do you want me to put up a curtain? I really don’t get laid usually. It was totally out of the ordinary.”

“No, no, you’re fine,” he says. “I just wanted to say it sounded like you were having a great time last night, and I’m really happy for you.”

His hands are in my hair. One time a few years ago, when I thought I was maybe sexily crushing on him, I asked Roommate at a party if he thought he’d ever want to sleep with me.

“I think you’re beautiful,” he said. “But I don’t want to have sex with you.”

The wine is sweet on the couch mid-afternoon, his hands are cool, and I’m sleepy. My brain turns over, like smooth stones, a couple HD lines:

So, when you had risen

from all the lethargy of love and its heat, you would have summoned me,

me alone,

and found my hands,

beyond all the hands in the world,

cold, cold, cold,

intolerably cold and sweet.

My Friend’s Margarita

($12; Border Café)

You know what else is intolerably cold and sweet, and also alcoholic? A margarita. Three of us are at a table at Border, me and The Queers, friends I’ve known, loved, and been flamboyantly gay with since freshman year. She has a margarita; he’s digging into the fried shrimp; I have singlehandedly finished off our second chip basket. Like the gayest-ass version of Sex and the City, we are catching up on the music of the previous evening.

“No, no,” he’s saying, “it’s a little bit more of a groan–you know, like a low groaning.”

“Like a moan or a groan?” I ask. “I’m a moaner. Not a groaner.”

“You know, like a low-pitched–ughhhhhh,” he says.

“Not like a breath? Not like a–uha-uha-uha- uha.”

“Or what about a, you know, a–mmmph. Mmmmmmph.”

We pay the bill and bundle up. She’s in love, he’s high, I’m a little bit of both. We link arms. We are everything. We huddle into the slushy night.

This post originally appeared at The Harvard Crimson.

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First Chance Dance

$4 Wine

Ah, senior spring—when some of us solicit people we’d hardly ask to pass the salt in the d-hall for sex. Eyes swipe right and left; rigid social divides melt like snowflakes. The season is ushered in by First Chance Dance: a freshman tradition lost to us by act of hurricane, the dance—and with it, the freshman-fall-free-for-all-sex-hungry-nostalgia—has been resuscitated. Tickets cost $20, which means to get my money’s worth I need to consume the equivalent of 25 glasses of wine. 

Wine

(Atrocious white; effectively $10/glass)

I am greeted by an olfactory wall of shampoo and pheromones, spilled alcohol, and sweat. The party is full of tit starers, dry humpers, existentially confused early twenty-somethings who want to get their dicks wet. Everyone looks like everyone, only more sexually eager and in tighter dresses.

I am not least among the penciled brows and push-up bras: My liner wing goes on for miles, shadow smokier than a hipster bar; my legs are the smoothest they’ve been since puberty; and my nipple situation is out of control—like a glamorous early Kirsten Dunst, in an alternate body-positive universe in which Kirsten Dunst could have ever starred in a cheerleading movie as a DD cup.

I adjust my boobuation in the bathroom mirror (misted with sweat and questionable decisions) between a girl I’ve interviewed for The Crimson and a girl I hooked up with freshman year. Meanwhile, a group of women debate the finer points of freshman versus senior grinding.

“It’s cool, here, if a dude grinds on you without you quite knowing him, because you sort of know him already, right?”

At this point, I exit the restroom and push my way to the front of the drink table, preparing to hip-check any errant pelvis that comes between me and the booze. Feminism!

 

Beer

(Gross; effectively $10/cup)

And here is my freshman year roommate! We kiss briefly on the lips, because that’s not gay at all. Between enthusiastic hugs and reminiscences of all of the times I sexiled her freshman fall and then cried the next morning on my journey to self-actualized womanhood, I end up drinking her beer.

All other urine-flavored beer is but a shadow on a cave wall beside this baby: It’s both fuzzy and flat, so metallic I worry I’ll poop a penny. As I muse over the finer notes of its flavor profile, two very intoxicated girls approach. They press their bodies against me like subway gropers or my close-talking relatives. I have never seen them before.

“You are soooo beautttiful,” Woman One says. “Isn’t she soooo beautttttiful?”

“Soooo beauttttiful,” says Woman Two. “It’s the adorable gap tooth.”

I smirk over to where Hot Boy who asked my entire freshman Expos class “why Reina had never gotten her teeth fixed” is doing his stupid two-step.

Woman One says, “Men would think you were so beautiful in Africa. We’re from Africa, and African men love gap teeth.”

“Oh!” I say, my White Liberal Guilt squirming lest I appear to think that Africa is a unitary national entity. “Which country?”

“Africa. All of Africa.”

“I always was glad I didn’t get braces,” I say nervously, downing the last fizzy contents of my glass.

 

Whiskey

(???; friend’s room)

The eternal loneliness of the unmated! I leave the party with my bra in my pocket, still scanning the crowd for gorgeous people whose roommates I have never hooked up with/whom I do not find deeply ideologically objectionable/who have genitals and believe in affirmative consent. My roommate, whose tolerance for my bullshit is admirable and dwindling, tells me to get a move on: Her hands are still red from the walk here.

Alas, I reflect as we near the Kong. My biological clock is ticking; the time to find a Harvard power spouse who will fill my womb and 401k is dwindling as rapidly as my youthful beauty. Will the crowds through the Kong window not take me into their human harmony? I press my nose to the glass.

My other freshman roommate and various friends and acquaintances wave. Oh hey guys, what’s up?

I end up in a friend’s suite. There is whisky that tastes like nail polish, early 2000s hip-hop that sounds like love. We dance in front of the wide windows, silly in our finery, against the cold coming off the glass.

At some point while dancing, my friend goes in for the tit squeeze–just once, a bit of companionable pressure. Do not fear the loneliness of the present, the uncertainty of the future, says the tit squeeze, for I am here. My laptop blaring Destiny’s Child, my hand, accidentally-on-purpose, grazing your breast.

 

 This post first appeared at The Harvard Crimson.

The Four Dollar Wine Handy Dandy Vagtastic Valentine’s Day Workout

$4 Wine

V-Day might be over, but ladies, you’ve still got to tend the actual V.  Ever wondered how to stay in great shape for your man? Look no further: It’s time for the Four Dollar Wine Handy Dandy Vagtastic Valentine’s Day Workout!

1) Wax your vagina. No, not your bikini line. Not “all the hair from your labia.” I mean wax your actual vagina. You’ll feel like a sex kitten. Like a sex kitten with an irritated vagina.

2) Kegels. All day everyday. Kegel when you’re sleeping. Kegel at your desk. Kegels make you tight as a virgin. I don’t think I’ve been a virgin since I broke my hymen with the water pressure from my parents’ showerhead.

3) Get in the mood with some feminist performance art! Smear your body with menstrual blood.

4) Indulge yourself: Today, eat whatever you want. Unless there are men around. Then, hide, lest they find out women have normal human body functions. You don’t care? What are you, a lesbian?

 

Thanksgiving!

$4 Wine

If you were on I-95 anywhere between Providence, R.I. and Secaucus, N.J. last Wednesday evening, you knew there was a lot of traffic. What you didn’t know is that this traffic consisted entirely of my extended family, aka every second-to-fourth-generation Portuguese-Italian who can trace their roots to the Greater Newark Metropolitan Area. Including me. My accent grows steadily more Jersey the farther from Boston (sorry, “Bawstan”) I get, so by the time we hit Yonkers, N.Y. it’s like I’ve swallowed Season Four of “Mob Wives.” It’s gonna be a party. And, like any reality show set in New Jersey, there will be wine.

Yellow Tail Shiraz

(My uncle: “It’s more than four dollars; can you still review it?”

Me: “It’s still less than four dollars if I don’t pay.”)

There are 42 people at Thanksgiving, and they are all currently asking me what I plan to do when I graduate. This drives me to drink. Yellow Tail Shiraz is here for me. Its wry, dry, sophisticate-on-a-budget taste bears no resemblance to the current scene. It’s an hour into the party, and my sister and I are already Pinteresting “Santa-themed fake nails.” We are interrupted by my cousin, who is holding an enormous grocery bag of tampon samples like it’s Christmas. The tampons are packed in ornately-constructed cardboard boxes, presumably to suggest that menstruation is delicate and expensive. It is certainly the latter, which is why I hide eight boxes under my coat. On my other side, Grandma has started talking about an article she’s read on gay youth.

“It’s so sad what they do to these people. They should accept them. We accept everyone,” Grandma says.

“I know we do,” I tell her, thinking about the time my mother outed me on the family email thread. Grandma doesn’t know how to email, and I’m unsure if anyone brought it up. “I know you’ve always been.”

Prosecco, some purple liquor thing, some other purple soda thing

(From the family coffers)

My cousins and I used to sneak drinks from Grandpa’s crystal two-buck chuck decanter. But we’re real grown-ups now, and my aunt is pushing cocktails like they’re gel pens in 1999. This cocktail is sweet and bubbly, with notes of black cherry and women talking about their feelings. Over at the kitchen table, the aunts and cousins—The Ladies—have begun debating the relative merits of various pubic grooming methods. Waxing at the salon costs 95 freaking dollars, and why would you spend that kind of money when you could get, like, 30 fake nails instead? (We are considering blinged-out snowflakes.) Waxing yourself is so effing painful, but do you ever get comfortable with a razor that close to your cooch?

“Maybe we should accept the broad diversity of lived pube experiences,” I say.

“But after I got a Brazilian I was just constantly cold,” another Lady says.

At this point, my cousin’s seven-year-old son, who has inherited the task of tampon-distribution from his mother, comes around like a petite, aggressive campus rep. “Take them,” he enjoins me, dropping six or seven boxes—this brand sans applicator!—at my feet. “Take more!”

Red wine? Unclear. It’s Thanksgiving!

(Who even fucking knows at this point?)

I am probably not the only tipsy one, since The Ladies are now considering which we’d prefer to have on a desert island: blow drier or IUD.

“IUD,” I say. “Obviously. You never know who you’ll meet.”

“I don’t know,” my aunt says. “The merits of a soft curl…”

“Reina doesn’t really need an IUD though, does she?” someone else chimes in. “How’s the girlfriend?”

I blush a little, then mutter, “We’ve broken up.”

There was that one time when I wasn’t there and some relative’s boyfriend started trashing gay marriage at our house. When I heard about it later, my stomach kind of curdled, like, would they all have looked at me? Would they have spoken up? A little thing, but big enough to hurt. I heard later that my dad had gotten angry—yelled at the guy, nearly chased him out. My father, who hardly raises his voice, who looks like a minor character from “The Godfather,” who hugged me awkwardly when I came out—he had gone to bat for me.

The evening is almost over, and The Ladies are debating the minutiae of the groomed brow: Waxed, threaded, or plucked?

“But seriously,” I’m saying, “I looked like a freaking princess after I first got threaded.”

My aunt objects, “But you know how much that hurts?”

And then it’s over, and we’re carrying out the extra rice pudding, and me and my sisters and our 124 tampons pile into the warm car.

This post originally appeared at The Harvard Crimson.

Yes, I said Yes, I Will, Yes

$4 Wine

It’s Halloweekend, folks, and fuck if I’m paying for my own alcohol. Also, I spent my work-study money on lingerie, because this Halloween, I’m going as Molly Bloom. Molly Bloom, a character in James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” is a fierce bitch, and the novel ends on her “yes” of orgasmic affirmation. She is an artist and a badass motherfucker who eats sausages for breakfast. She is also way cooler than Penelope, the dutiful let’s-weave-our-feelings character from the Odyssey on whom she is based, and she spends the novel’s last chapter in bed masturbating because she gives zero fucks about your opinion on her sexuality. Also, one time this dude I liked told me I was too Molly—vulgar and excessive feelings—for him to want to date me. And this is exactly why Molly Bloom makes the perfect Halloween costume: what’s spoOoOokier than female appetite?

Gaetano D’Aquino Pinot Grigio

Grifone Sangiovese

(Free; pregame)

Like former lovers, past bottles of wine pop up tonight with alarming frequency. My old flame Gaetano d’Aquino makes an appearance at the pregame. He’s here with Grifone Sangiovese, who my friends later reassure me is a bitch far more basic than I. (No one will feel better as a result of this interaction, but the attendant insecurity will motivate us all to buy plenty of mascara, so score one for capitalism.) I take a shot of peppermint Schnapps, which tastes like toothpaste.

“Who’s your Blazes Boylan?” asks the pregame host, one of the people in my freshman “Hamlet and Ulysses” seminar I did not sleep with. That, I tell him, is the question of the evening. There is no bottle opener at the pregame, so someone tries to lob off the tops of the wine to unfortunate effect: The corks are still stuck in the necks of the bottles, but decapitated. The best wine, I tell myself by way of consolation, is the wine untasted.
Franzia Crisp White

Franzia Chillable Red

(Free; party)

Oh Franzia Crisp White, oh Chillable Red, we meet again. You have followed me here even though I have indicated no interest in you, just like the dude who keeps dancing up on me as though he’s going to get pussy for disregarding my personal space. My friend, seeing the unsolicited attention and stepping in as Active Bystander Champion, says, “We’ll make you a gay sandwich!” He and my other friend (in sparkles) groove into formation; I am the queer lettuce. Undeterred by the shield of fabulous, Aggressive Dude grabs my waist.

Me: I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but it is not okay.

Dude: What’s your Halloween costume?

Me: I am MOLLY BLOOM. [Storm away in feminist fury to the other side of the dance floor.]

Consent—it’s like oxygen: If you think you don’t need it, you’re a douchebag. Luckily, at this point Aggressive Dude leaves and that song everyone likes comes on, and I’m jumping around in ecstasy with my friends, and everyone I love, and my roommate. Well fuck me against a wall in Gibraltar—this shit is beautiful.
Franzia Fruity Sangria

(Free; party)

Franzia is pulling no punches with the targeted advertising: I have half a red Solo cup of this stuff, and I have never felt fruitier. Also, literally everyone I have ever had a crush on is at this Halloween party, in a hot clusterfuck of intoxication, pastiche, and feelings. I embarrass myself utterly with some inept flirting (today’s four dollar wine is brought to you by the letter “Personal Space”—to be respected by all genders!) and decide it is better for everyone if I head out. I exchange greetings with the guy I always pass on the way home, who is about to go to sleep on the sidewalk. Memory of Aggressive Dude sharp on my brain, I flinch in expectation of words about my exposed flesh, my cleavage, or belly. But our greeting is friendly as always: “It’s getting cold out,” he says, and I say, “It’s getting cold out.” And then I think it’s stupid if this is going to be the limits of my feminism, if all I want is the right to say “yes” to sex and my great-grandmother’s ripped fur and my $80 of lingerie, when power is everywhere and fucking complicated, and the world is a big, unjust, loaded “maybe.” The cold presses my nipples against the stupid fabric of my bustier, and it is November already.

This post originally appeared at The Harvard Crimson.

Get Wise

$4 Wine

This week in the oral surgery industry, I get my wisdom teeth taken out. This was never supposed to happen; my dentist originally justified the ordeal as medically necessary because a “rite of passage,” which just didn’t seem to cut it as a reason for a surgical procedure. Then the teeth actually grew in, and I stopped being able to eat tortilla chips. The upside to removal: A parentally, medically, and school-sanctioned drug experience! The downside: “Reina,” my father says on the phone. “You realize that if you’re on painkillers, you can’t drink cheap wine.” So this time, four dollar wine is about my wisdom teeth.

Laughing Gas

($160, insurance; Oral Surgeon)

The oral surgeon says that I will feel the laughing gas soon, and that I should not be nervous. I am zero nervous, considering that someone is about to use a large metal instrument to pull bones out of my head. The air coming from the nose mask is cool and tastes vaguely of plastic, with notes of holy shit my head is buzzing somewhere near the ceiling, who even am I anymore. Lights blinking. The oral surgeon says, “You will feel a lot of pressure; keep breathing!” I’m breathing like I’ve climbed six flights of stairs, or had an orgasm, or had an orgasm after climbing six flights of stairs. There is a pulling sensation—holy fuck—and (keep breathing) (oh my god keep breathing) I think my teeth are being—holy fuck. “Keep breathing!” the oral surgeon repeats, cheerful as all hell. Breathing! I’m breathing! Jesus, drugs are cool. The grownups tell you not to use drugs, but what they really mean is you should only use drugs when grownups tell you to use them, and if you don’t have health insurance, you’re shit out of luck. Drug laws are a tool of social control that oppress disparately along race and class lines. Nancy Reagan lied. “All done!” the oral surgeon is saying, standing over me with my teeth clutched in her gloved hands.

Vicodin

($6.50, insurance; Walgreens in Central)

There is no place on this earth bleaker than the Central Square Walgreens. Except maybe the Harvard Square CVS, which was a shining beacon of light until the very kind pharmacist informed me they were not currently carrying Vicodin, and that I could try walking to Central instead. I wept. I then fast-walked to Central. The goddess pharmacist at Walgreens glows in the industrial light/tail end of nitrous, and I thank her with genuine love. I’m walking back to Harvard Square when a suit-clad man on the side of the road decides it is a good idea to catcall me. It is not a good idea. “Hey, baby,” he says, a strange epithet considering that my stature, swollen cheeks, and obvious secondary sex characteristics indicate I am not a small child, but rather a cranky, nitrous-addled bitch you do not want to mess with right now. I give him a big, sweet, open-mouthed smile. I hope he sees the gauze. I don’t actually take any of the Vicodin.

Chocolate Milk

(About $4; CVS)

Five fun tips to make your wisdom teeth recovery fabulous!

1. Having difficulty talking? That’s great. Women should be seen, not heard.

2. Don’t think of your inability to eat solid food as a hindrance; think of it as a diet! Because it’s totally not fucked up that people always tell me I look better after I’ve lost a few pounds due to illness.

3. Prevent boys from even gazing upon your swollen face by telling them beforehand that you’ll be out of commission for menstrual reasons. They’ll run!

4. There’s nothing painting your nails can’t fix, including the fact that you can’t fucking close your mouth, Jesus Christ my jaw.

5. If you’re going to subsist exclusively on chocolate milk for the next three days, drink it out of a wine glass.

This post originally appeared on The Harvard Crimson

AMERICA!

$4 Wine

This week I am so many emotions that a book about a lost bunny rabbit I read while babysitting made me cry. In order to drink and forget midterm season/impending autumn and its attendant anxieties—Is it now too cold to go braless? Does my neck look weird in this? Do you want to snuggle with me tonight?—I and my posse are off again to Cambridge Wine and Spirits for more jugs of cheap, industrial-sized wine. May this harvest season bring you autumnal Sam Adams dioramas and rivers clogged with rowers, and may all your commodity fetishes be pumpkin spice.  

Carlo Rossi Chianti
($6.99/1.5 liters; that’s $3.50 a bottle!; Cambridge Wine and Spirits)

Cambridge Wine and Spirits Guy is a lovely soul, and I twitch my eyelashes at him frenetically because I have been socialized to think that suggesting sexual interest will get me access to shit: free drinks, victim blaming, extra milkshakes at B. Good. Today I am feeling like a fly piece of Cantabrigian femininity; on the way here drivers in the Square kept craning their heads to look at me being alluringly eco-friendly on my bicycle, such that I was somewhat worried they would crash their trucks. Cambridge Wine and Spirits Guy suggests Carlo Rossi—a name shared by both the preferred wine brand and childhood bestie of my grandfather—and I can only imagine my grandmother’s fear at what I have become. The wine itself, I discover later, has notes of artificial maple syrup, with brief wisps of pomegranate. It tastes like good balsamic vinegar, or rather, like good balsamic vinegar’s freshman year sexual performance: still an awkward mouthfeel, but with promising hints of what aging might bring.

Liberty Creek White Zinfandel

($7.99/1.5 liters; that’s $4 a bottle!; Cambridge Wine and Spirits)

In lieu of a review of Liberty Creek—a wine that is as delicious as it is a tool of American hegemony—I’ve made some improvements (they’re bold) to the initial label.

At Liberty Creek we craft our wines upholding the ideals of a bygone time. A time when traditions were esteemed and principles were hard-won and women and people of color couldn’t vote, and homosexuals were tried in secret courts and kicked out of Harvard.

Our long tradition of winemaking is rooted in the rich soils of California, which were taken from Mexico in 1848, because our nation is an imperialist power and Manifest Destiny a white supremacist myth. And every bottle of Liberty Creek rings faithful to the principle we hold true—that quality wines should be accessible to allformer Reagan voters. Our White Zinfandel is refreshingly sweet with cranberry and watermelon fruit gushers flavors and lively notes of the flavor formerly known asfresh strawberry and cherry. Enjoy chilled. Pairs perfectly with all types of foods from the crisp salads that make women smile to spicy Asian or Latin cuisine—so ethnic!

Livingston Chablis Blanc

($6.99/1.5 liters; that’s $3.50 a bottle!; Cambridge Wine and Spirits.)

This is delicious. It is juicy and pleasant and tastes like crisp green grapes sprinkled with sparkly pink sugar, and is almost yummy enough to make up for the fact that I haven’t gotten laid in a month. Almost. Do I TMI? Very well then, I TMI. (I am large, I contain multitudes; this is sometimes socially stigmatized.) Livingston Chablis Blanc is mild and luscious and lovely, almost as lovely as biking back with my roommate from Cambridge Wine and Spirits. We crackled over the newly fallen leaves raising moss-scent, notes of dark chocolate, hints of imminent rot. And I was thinking it’s now, it’s here, it’s this moment, and isn’t that unendurably sweet. Like low-end white wine. The kind of night that feels like butter, melts down gut-hot into your heart or your soul or your stomach and makes you deeper, rich. We cycled through the muffled-velvet streets of Cambridge, her in front and me following after, and I was guided by her blown-back hair. And I loved her so much I could hardly look at her, in that way that hurts a little, in that way that you love your friends.

This post originally appeared at The Harvard Crimson

I Throw a Party

$4 Wine

It is scenic autumn in Harvard Square, and today my friends and I decide to take a booze trip to Cambridge Wine and Spirits. The aim is two-fold: 1) My roommate has just turned 21, and still feels that legally acquiring her own alcohol makes her a self-actualized woman, and 2) We are throwing a party. We have 40 people to intoxicate; my bank balance and the level of fucks I give are both so low, the wines I choose are named after serving suggestions.

Franzia “Chillable Red”
($15.99/box—that’s $3.198/bottle)

The liqueur aisle at Cambridge Wine and Spirits is stocked with lethal, sexy, fruity, jewel-toned serums baring their rich purple innards, messy as a crush of blackberries passed between young lovers’ tongues. The shining evil bottles pout on the shelves like glossy cats, silky and dangerous and just waiting for me to stroke them with my super-glam nails. (This week, said nails glitter with pink and gold confetti; “They look,” says my friend and editor, “Like you fingerfucked Aphrodite.”) I, however, do not choose any of these sirens, because they are not Franzia, and when I, like God, saw Franzia, I said, “Yea, it is affordable and of bad quality; therefore it is good.” And here it is: a bag in a box is hardly enough to contain this red’s bouquet of vinegar and plum juice. When I finally arrive home and sample this beauty, its notes of synthetic vanilla and red Capri Sun saunter across my tongue. We do not chill the Chillable Red; neither our mini fridge nor our hopes are big enough.

Franzia “Refreshing White”
($14.99/box—that’s $2.998/bottle)

Count on queers to turn a roomful of confused drunk people into a party. It is 11:45 p.m., and my friends have descended in a pack of non-normative feelings. Also, Nicki Minaj. I distribute Refreshing White to everybody, because we are in need of refreshment. The first sip blisters my tongue. The wine is crisp as an apple slice after a day in a ziplock bag, with similar gestures towards nutmeg. It has low notes of whiskey. At this point, my good friend and several people I have never seen before decide it is an excellent idea to play “slap the bag” with the packet of Refreshing White. It is not an excellent idea; it is like trying to play beach volleyball with a Stadium Pal at the end of a long, bathroomless day.

Purple Moon Chardonnay
($3.99/bottle. Trader Joe’s; reviewed weeks ago and abandoned half-full in my common room, put out at the party in the hopes it would be consumed; it wasn’t.)

I awake with a moderately serious hangover and visions of the sexual encounter I walked in on the night before dancing like horny sugarplums through my head. Because I am incredibly proactive and energetic, I commit to cleaning the common room. I successfully recycle the alarmingly empty vodka and gin bottles, but Purple Moon—like me at a seventh grade dance—is sitting weeping with a bad haircut on the sidelines, untasted and unloved. I no longer want to deal with its feelings, so I chug the last two gulps and discard. The pleasant sweetness of the wine’s youth has turned bitter, much like I will be as a single woman in my mid-thirties as I sit drinking mom wines while jealously hate-liking my friends’ wedding photos. Its previously firm bubbles have sagged to the floor like my future breasts. To ward off the inevitable, I dress for brunch in wedges.

This post originally appeared at The Harvard Crimson

Zero Dollar Beer

$4 Wine

Beer is gross. My editors, it turns out, are also gross, as they have decided to devote an entire issue of our magazine to it. But I am a communist, and thus oriented towards taking one for the team. As an act of protest, however, and because I do not believe in market economies/have $13 in my bank account, I am only reviewing the beer I manage to get for free: at parties, and, in an act of virtuosic mooching, from my roommate’s supply. It’s not pretty, but neither is late capitalism.

Keg

(free; party)

I don’t know what kind of beer is filling this keg, but whatever it is, it tastes like pool water. It’s Saturday night, and two friends and I stand hunched in the hallway of a very full and sweaty party, swishing the weak liquid like mouthwash and muttering into my recorder. The beer tastes like the kind of water that leaves mineral marks on your showerhead, like water you’ve soaked a penny in for a couple weeks, “like dirty water,” my friend says, “but not unpleasantly.” It’s bubbly, in a despondent sort of way, and has the tinny quality of canned tomatoes. At this point in our tasting, someone asks us if we’re in line for the bathroom. We are not.

PBR

(free; party)

On the upside, the can rests securely in my cleavage, which both cools me off and leaves my hands free to gesticulate and reach for the Tostitos. On the downside, it’s Pabst Blue Ribbon. PBR’s mouthfeel is fuzzier than the keg beer’s, more rounded and softer. If the keg beer was “flavorless Pop Rocks,” as my friend claimed, then this is Alka-Seltzer. If the keg beer was making out on a shag rug, this is cuddling with a puppy. A puppy with hops on its breath. The can informs me that “nature’s choicest products” are responsible for PBR’s “prized flavor,” which I doubt, and also that PBR was “selected as America’s beer,” which I believe utterly. Nationalism is a bitter brew.

Flipside Red IPA

($2.00 to my roommate; common room)

Sunday afternoon in my common room, and I’m breaking into my roommate’s beer supply. She takes a sip in order to “refresh [her] memory,” and then stares at me enigmatically as though she has arcane knowledge of this brew’s flavor profile that I will never access. This is the same coy smile I give heterosexual men who ask me what lesbians do in bed (mostly divination), and it is maddening. But even I can tell the difference in quality: Flipside Red IPA is not as gross and coppery as the beers from the night before, and makes my tongue tingle intriguingly. I can even get on board with the “robust tropical fruit and citrus hop flavors” claimed on the label—is that a whiff of coconut? Flipside Red IPA is so alarmingly not disgusting, in fact, I find myself rethinking my orientation: Am I a beer drinker? Do I perhaps see the merit of spending more than a minimum on alcohol? Do I even have a stable identity? This beer has notes of apricot and strong overtones of postmodernity.

This post originally appeared at The Harvard Crimson