Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘drink’

A Wee Dram of Thought on Alcohol

Beth and I have been on an adventure cruise, a quest of sorts. We’ve been exploring the wonders of the classic cocktail. Today as we watch the final events of the CrossFit Games will be no different. Equal parts alchemy and indulgence, our trip has been more exciting (as all adventures are) because of the little bit of risk involved. What if we find one (or two, or…) we really like? Like many pleasures to drink is to willingly hold the proverbial double-edged sword in your hand; in this case the sword just happens to look like a martini glass.

Alcohol as both a substance and a subject is complex and rife with controversy. It’s legal, but only to a point. It’s beneficial, but with a caveat–people who drink just enough live longer than those who drink more, or not at all. As a chemical it’s a depressant, and yet in many circumstances it imbues joy in those who imbibe. It all comes down to a fine and delicate balance, not unlike a perfectly aged wine or single malt scotch.

The matter of regulation intrudes on the pleasure. Knowing the existence of the second edge and maintaining an awareness of its cut is both necessary and nettlesome. If you find this lurking behind every glass it may rob you of the joy; if you careen from joy to joy you will inevitably suffer its cut and bleed. Temperance, then, is the essential ingredient, the co-pilot who must be ever present on this particular trip. Ah, but temperance, willful self-control, can feel like a 50 MPH governor on a Ferrari, especially if you make the Indiana Jones-like cocktail discoveries we’ve made. It might be so difficult and so distasteful that you decide to roll your dice on the “not at all” line. “Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.” Samuel Johnson.

Indeed, temperance is so often fueled by the wraith “guilt.” There’s joy and pleasure to be had, but what if there’s too much? Ah, guilt. In the classic children’s book “The Little Prince”, one of the characters is known simply as The Drunkard. He explains to the Little Prince that he drinks to forget that he’s ashamed of drinking. How very sad, that.

It’s all so complicated, not unlike the math involved in the archaic elixirs we’ve been experiencing. So very hard sometimes to ease off the throttle without the aid of the governor. If the “Gizmo”, the “Sideswiped”, and the “El Dorado” be guilty pleasures we might ask the socialite turned fashion entrepreneur Charlotte Stockdale what she thinks of such things (quote from a Sunday interview a couple of years ago). “I don’t have a guilty pleasure. I don’t really feel guilty about anything. What’s the point?” As you listen there it is. Out of the corner of your eye you can just see it, the shadow of the double-edged sword. One edge Samuel, the other Charlotte.

[Tips glass]

Old Crow (Courtesy of John Brown)

You know those liquor ads, all sensitive and such, where they show you a picture of a bunch of young folks warm and close. “You save your good stuff (presumably THEIR stuff) for your best friends.” My friend John Brown thinks otherwise. Maybe you save your best stuff for your Mom or your Dad as sign of respect or as a thankful gesture, but your REAL friends are the one’s with whom you can drink the really bad stuff. The rot gut. The “Old Crow”.

If you think about it for just the littlest bit John is absolutely right. With your best friends, your real friends, it’s not at all about the what or the where but only about the who. You are sitting, standing, sweating…whatever…with your friend. “Old Crow” is just fine.

Try this. Someone, probably my Dad, told me long, long ago that your closest friends were the people you could hang out with in silence. If there’s nothing to say, you say…nothing. No awkward silences, just silence. That’s one way I knew my wife Beth was “the one” by the way.

(Lifts glass of Old Crow)