It was my first night out after having gone off to college. It may even have been my first night on campus—I’m not sure. At the time, the legal drinking age was 18, but I could always get served having a college ID. (I’d been using that trick in Dallas since I was 16.)
So there I was at the Carousel bar with a couple of new friends being introduced to a concoction called a tequila sunrise—a sickly sweet drink made by pouring orange juice and tequila over ice then adding grenadine and a cherry garnish. It fairly screams “novice drinker.”
It’s unclear exactly when the room started spinning. It might have been after two. (Drinks, that is.) It may also be that the bar at the Carousel revolved, but that’s a detail about which I’m uncertain. I just know I never drank another one, and it was about 15 years before tequila touched my lips again.
Not much time passed before I discovered the local gay bar, where I ditched the tequila and grenadine, kept the orange juice, and added vodka. Still possessing a rather juvenile taste in consuming liquor, a screwdriver seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. After all, a day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine, even if you don’t have it for breakfast.
Until Miss Anita Bryant came along. She was the spokeswoman (as they were called then) of the Florida Citrus Commission, but it would be her campaigning as an anti-gay activist that would be her most lasting legacy. Without getting into the details, her Save Our Children campaign led to a gay boycott of orange juice, which I was happy to join by changing my drink of choice to bourbon and Coke. It would be a few more years before I would give up a spoonful of sugar to help the liquor go down and learn the lasting satisfaction of a dirty martini or drinking good vodka neat.
Whether or not that boycott was effective is somewhat debatable. The Briggs Initiative in California to provide for the firing of and employment discrimination against gay people in public schools was predicated on Miss Anita Bryant’s successful activism around the country. The proposed law, so draconian that even Ronald Reagan came out against it, went down in defeat in 1978 by a margin of 17 points. And within a couple of years, Miss Anita Bryant had divorced her husband and lost her orange juice job. (That must have been when we returned to serving mimosas at brunch.) As her former husband said years later in blaming gay people for what happened, “Their stated goal was to put her out of business and destroy her career. And that’s what they did.”
So when a list of companies that support Trump’s reelection hit my radar this week, I scanned it with trepidation, fearful that Grey Goose or its parent company, Bacardi, would be on the list. After all, I already knew about the Equinox boycott, although I thought it was just another overpriced Dallas restaurant until I found out it is some kind of fitness company. And I can easily sign up to boycott a gym. Easily.
So I’m going down the list. In-N-Out, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s. Whataburger’s not on the list. So far so good. Taco Bell is, but Taco Campana isn’t. Still good. KFC, but not Popeye’s. Even better.
But then the bombshell. Estee Lauder. Now I must tell you that Estee and I go back to when I was still drinking screwdrivers. And while she isn’t paying me (well, she died years ago) and neither is Ron, her Trump-supporting son, I gotta do what I got do when it comes to skin care and cosmetics. When it comes to my face, Merle Norman cleans is, Estee Lauder moisturizes it, and Elizabeth Arden spackles it. Not negotiable.
So boycott a little or a lot if you want to. Whatever makes you feel better in these troubled times, go for it. But just know that it’s easier to bring down an individual than a corporation. Just ask Miss Anita Bryant.
Now I’ve got to let Karl know about something on the list that might interest him. And if he decides to boycott Home Depot, I’ll let you know so we can all sell that stock.