When I was very young — eight, maybe — I remember walking out the back door of my family’s house with my mom. I had probably just asked for a cookie or something, and my mom’s response was this: “You know, if you keep eating sweets so much, people are going to think you’ll be an alcoholic one day.”
She contends this never happened, but I remember it clear as day. That was when I decided not to drink. It seemed expedient: I could keep eating sweets, and it wouldn’t matter what people thought about my future drinking habits, because I’d know that I wasn’t going to drink and therefore wasn’t going to become an alcoholic.
So the scene in the CW’s new show, “Jane the Virgin” (which premiered on Monday night), in which the heroine’s grandmother tells a pre-adolescent Jane not to lose her virginity, speaks to me. I know that feeling. That is Catholic guilt. Apparently, I don’t even know the half of it — my mom is good at guilt-tripping, but my aunt tells me that my grandmother’s ability to discipline via shame was downright masterful. In fact, my mother even harnessed some residual power from her mother’s guilt-tripping expertise by telling me a few times over my childhood, “Your grandmother would be so disappointed.” Keep reading »