Review: Drinking With Men
At 15 years old, Rosie Schaap told fortunes in the bar car of a commuter train in exchange for drinks, thus beginning her lifelong love affairs with bars. She later dropped out of high school and became a Deadhead for a while before earning her GED and going on to college, always seeking out a local bar to call her own. She relates the lessons learned and the friendships formed to broader aspects of life in her memoir, Drinking With Men. Schaap says,
Of course we drink for solace, we drink for comfort, and the drink does its job; it is a calmative and helpmate. But you can drink anywhere. You can drink at home. A bar gives you more than drink alone. It gives you the presence of others; it gives you relief from isolation. When you are a regular, it gives you community, too.
I liked Drinking With Men, but didn’t love it. I guess I really had mixed feelings about it. I found it to be well written and thought provoking and I thought Schaap was sincere and articulate but I grew weary of her story before it was over. Schaap’s a great storyteller, so I was fascinated with her life at first and was amazed at the things she did, all the while remaining unscathed. But after a while, I was a little put off by the drinking to excess and wondered if she’d ever grow up. She seemed to struggle to find her way, only feeling at home in a bar and, after a while, I had trouble relating to her. I think those more familiar with bar culture and those familiar with the bars she’s frequented will enjoy this book more than I did.