Credit: Kenny Eliason via Unsplash

Got milk? My love for the white stuff

Lucy delivers “a silly little ode to milk”, reflecting on her enduring passion for skimmed cow’s milk.

There’s a point you reach in any relationship, where you need to disclose a personal truth, one you have long-fiercely protected; whether that be out of shame, self-preservation or a still-loading vibe-check-reading of the other party. You just can’t be certain how they’ll take the news. Will they spread your sensitive secret as gossip? Will they hold it against you in a long-running gag? Will they stop contacting you altogether? Now, such anxiety is typically reserved for stigmatised/not-very-hot conversation topics, say: explosive IBS; an embarrassing childhood complex; a bizarre kink; an illicit side-hustle; or maybe even a paedophile sibling (okay, that one isn’t so common but we sympathise with Fleabag’s hot priest nonetheless). Mine? A passionate penchant for drinking milk straight by the gallon. She’s so crazy, she’s so kooky, I know. I’m such a freak, a dairy leper amongst lactose-intolerant conformists, a not-like-other-ice-latte-girls maverick. So when the hour of admission finally strikes, my preferred method of reveal is in darkness, when seated in a cinema theatre. 

I’ll whip it out, and a vague horror paints the face of the stranger next to me – as well as my pal on my other side – but with the big screen commanding collective attention, the spectacle of my little (large) diary demijohn is secondary and Ms Milk has successfully, quietly asserted her authority in the cup holder. Safe in the knowledge it’s generally disruptive to talk during the film, no one motions to or mentions it again. God, I love weaponizing the observance of public decorum in the name of a silent milk coup. 

Although, I am now at an age where I am totally shameless about my burning love for the (non-MAGA!) red cap; when a bitch loves the cattle juice she just wants to shout it from the top of the haystacks! So yeah, I drink a shit ton of milk. From infancy to adulthood, it has brought me so much peace. It’s been the one true constant in my life, an agent of comfort, a motivator. In my toddler speak, with an undeveloped grasp of the english language, I would cry “mo mo” with outstretched arms, signalling my desperate need for a hit – I’ve been on the bottle since ‘02 baby. For my playtime snack in primary school I’d have my wee one pint carton and the streets saw nothing but pride from me! I was never embarrassed despite ribbing from classmates. After evening dance class it was the most hydrating homecoming. But cereal was the stage where the real Man V Food-esque, heavy consumption took place, with, on average, 6 bowls a day: one in the morning before school, one at my after-school childminders, two when I got home, and another two after dinner. Picture Bruce Bogtrotter from Matilda but with a 48 pack of Weetabix. Milk’s power has long wielded influence over my engagement with most food groups, as I have never been able to consume any spongey, frosted or coco treat without it as my preferred medium of wash-down-refreshment. We know that power couples across history include Antony and Cleopatra, Lennon and Ono, and Harry and Louis, but milk as a companion to a dessert is the ultimate regal pairing of any millennia, yielding the most winning combination of complementary textures.

But with my ardent consumption comes guilt. My indulgence is paid for by high greenhouse gas emissions; you’re probably thinking “Lucy, the world’s dying, switch to the oat so we don’t all croak!” I respect it, the climate crisis, and I have tried out the more sustainable options; I grazed the plant-based and had a crack at the nut, but they just didn’t do it for me, for when it comes to skimmed cow’s milk, to these eco-alternatives I simply say, he tastes like you only sweeter. Ensnared in moral turpitude for my hedonistic ways, I cling to the encouraging health benefits we were taught as children that milk’s calcium provides: fortified bone density, muscle protein synthesis and enamel protection. Accordingly, I don’t follow a gym routine for my legs but I have the pronounced calves of a middle-aged, male cycling enthusiast-via-Duke of Edinburgh expedition instructor named Steve. And as for my lack of tooth decay, let’s just say my casting as an ensemble member instead of McCavity in a summer camp Cats adaptation really tracks. In whatever state of placebo delusion, I attribute such corporeal slays to a devotion to my pasteurised vice.

Generally I am not a blind follower and like to employ critical thinking in my relationships with even the things I am most fond of. And so I dissent the old heartening adage “there’s no point crying over spilled milk”, because … yes there is, it fucking stinks! If you’ve ever had the misfortune of splashing it on your clothes, duvet, or car carpet, it’s hell in there, it’s horror. And in its curdled form, apart from the CCTV footage of Matt Hancock’s loose grip on an arse cheek, there are fewer more repulsive things in this life. And although I do acknowledge milk’s shortcomings, some hold only acrimony for it in their hearts. I first noticed a mass social rejection of milk drinkers in 2017 when some viral tweets described those who drink cow’s milk straight as “the spawn of satan”. Well, pour me a glass and call me Lucy-fer because clearly the gang Upstairs cannot appreciate udder perfection when they are quenched by the aqueous Alcopops that is Christ’s blood! Social convention lays further obstacles for me in the form of hosts asking what I’d like to drink. I don’t drink tea or coffee so I’ll usually resign myself to water, but they don’t know I just want a mug of milk. Part of me feels like I’m shackled in a state of arrested development because of it, that I should just grow up and have an espresso, but I’m happy to keep milking it for the time being.

Much like Zeke in High School Musical tentatively confessing that he loves to bake, my committing this to writing is a very brave declaration. I expect boycotts. I anticipate Twitter takedowns. Let them eat cake I say, without milk! If I ever run for office I will campaign to instate milk fountains in all public spaces, in lieu of boring old agua! Viva la leche! I will stand side by side with my cows in the revolution! Wait, what do you mean “have you actually read Animal Farm?”

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