Tom and Alice had a backyard barbecue on the 4th of July. They invited their neighbors, Bob and Nadine and George and Beth to join them.
“Kids these days don’t know anything about what happens on the 4th of July,” Bob said around a mouthful of sandwich. “In my day, we decorated our bikes and rode in the parade down Main Street.”
“In your day, they closed Main Street on the 4th,” his wife Nadine retorted. “It’s not safe to ride your bike on the street these days. Besides, we stopped having parades about 25 years ago.”
“Yeah, they stopped the parades because the drinking got out of hand.” George sat in a lounge chair, holding up a cold beer.
“Didn’t stop the drinking though, did it?” Tom opined, as he turned the burgers on the grill. “Remember the two boys who died last month in that crash? Underage drinking.”
“What do you suppose makes them drink to such excess?” Beth asked, looking at George. “We’ve got an 18 year old who is going to State this fall. Quite frankly, we’re worried about all this binge drinking you hear about at these universities.” George nodded in agreement. “Our youngest son is only 12 but we know some of his friends are drinking already,” she added.
“I was reading about a study recently,” Alice offered as spread mayonnaise on her burger bun. “It talked about the causes of alcohol use and binge drinking in young boys – about the age of your youngest.” She pointed the knife at Beth. Tom reached over and turned down the ballgame on the radio as everyone got quiet. “They said that kids start drinking and move on to binge drinking because of four major factors. Now let me think – oh, yes, it was the use of alcohol in movies that the kids see, use of alcohol by their parents in the home – more than once a week.”
Beth looked at George, who sat his beer on the poolside table and slowly withdrew his hand.
“Um, there were two more – uh, having items like waste baskets or drinking mugs with alcohol logos on them and, of course, their friends who are drinking – peer pressure, you know.” She turned to her husband Tom. “Do you know where our 14 year old is?”
Tom looked up from the grill. “He’s at the movies . . .” He paused. “With his friends.”
“Any idea what’s in those movies?” Bob asked. Tom slowly shook his head.
That evening after viewing the fireworks, Tom and Alice asked their son what movie he had seen and how he felt about seeing alcohol use in movies, what he thought it meant for him.
Around the same time, George and Beth had a long, serious talk, just the two of them, in the kitchen, concerning alcohol consumption in their home. When their 18 year old came home around 1 am, George and Beth were waiting up. They shared with him what they had been discussing and asked how it had affected him. The discussion lasted until breakfast.