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Borrowing Sugar – Ahem, WINE – from the Neighbors

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Remember when borrowing sugar from the neighbors was a thing? I actually remember my mom sending me next door with a measuring cup to get ¼ cup of sugar. Once, it may have been vinegar.

Well, I’m not ashamed to admit, in my version of adulthood, it was wine (come to think of it, that’s kind of like a sugary vinegar now, isn’t it?). Not only had it become less common, maybe less acceptable to show up at the neighbors asking for stuff (I think it is seen as too intrusive, at least in the NY neighborhood where we lived) but I went ahead and upped the ante from sugar to wine.

I was parenting an 8 month old. He’d been sick and needing me all day (I’m pretty sure there was puking involved) and we were stuck home alone for 12 hours AND my husband was going to have a late night at work. Since about 4pm I’d been pining away for that moment when the baby would be asleep in his crib (which, back then, was located in a closet as we lived in a one-bedroom condo), the place would be quiet, no one would need me, and I would pour myself a nice, cold glass of Chardonnay, sit on the balcony as the sun went down, and do nothing. I could taste it. The promise of this reward was helping me get through the hardest part of the day. Except, when I opened the fridge, which almost always had an unopened or a half drunk bottle of wine, there was none. And no red on the wine rack. And no beer anywhere!!

no wine, that's absurd!

Now I imagine most people who had not just spent 12 hours with a sick 8 month old might just say to themselves, “Oh well, I’ll have to pick some up at the store tomorrow.” Not me. Instead, I called Betty downstairs. Betty was a single woman in her 60’s who I knew really liked her wine. We didn’t know her well but we had her number in case of emergency (thus, my phone call). I started with, “Hi Betty. You know how back in the day neighbors would borrow sugar…?” “Yes!” She exclaimed, ready and willing to be a helpful neighbor. “Well… I don’t need any sugar… But do you have any wine?” I think Betty understood – maybe all too well – the trials and tribulations of not having your wine when you need it the most. I told her I just needed a glass but she insisted I take the whole bottle. If I recall, she was a red wine drinker so I never got my Chardonnay that night, but I did get solitude on the balcony with a glass of wine in hand.

I talk a lot in my blog (like here) and elsewhere about how isolated new moms are, how hard parenting is when you don’t have a village. This is just one example – that moment when you’re out of something essential- maybe not sugar, but diapers, toilet paper, or wine for example (we’ll make no value judgment about which of those is most important of course) and you can’t leave the house. Of course, you could wake a sick baby and leave the house,… but don’t get me started on how many things I’d rather do than that.

Happy Friday, I hope there is wine in your fridge, and sleeping babies and children before too long.

Kathryn KeenerBorrowing Sugar – Ahem, WINE – from the Neighbors

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