First of all, let’s cut right to the chase. I love drinking alcoholic beverages. Am I an alcoholic*, most assuredly, though it does not interfere with my life. I’m a social alcoholic. That is, I drink for conviviality and pleasure, either with others or alone. I do not drink to assuage or enhance any psychological self-torture.
May I remind the reader that alcohol has been the preferred anodyne of humanity–ever since the first pile of grapes fermented and gave off that luring aroma that we still relish in the finest (and/or cheapest) of wines. That was many centuries ago, perhaps even at the moment when evolution produced a cerebral cortex with enough sense to seek modification through alteration. In other words: produced the desire for mind-altering substances. I mean, why have a mind if you can’t play with it? (I give the reader permission to contemplate the possible variants of this thought.)
Now, you see I’ve wandered away from my original purpose which was merely to quote the concluding, and inspiring, paragraph from “The Perfect Martini Book” (Harcourt Brace 1979) by Robert Herzbrun. So here goes:
“To presidents and commoners, workingmen and practitioners of leisure, the Martini and cocktail hour are the perfect marriage. The chilled crystal alive with beads of frost. The union of clear, crisp gin and golden hued vermouth. The streak of yellow lemon peel, gently twisted and subtle with flavor. Or the well-rounded olive studded with a flash of flaming red pimiento. The King of Cocktails, the Dry Martini. Little wonder it is the perfect cocktail for that glorious time of day, the cocktail hour, the Martini Hour. A time to relax and reflect. A time when all the pieces take their rightful place . . . and the day comes into focus. A time when those nagging, gnawing problems don’t seem quite that serious after all. A time, in fact, when humor emerges from tribulation . . . and the crisis of the day becomes a subject for laughter. The Martini Hour: when friendships are rekindled and relationships reborn.”
I am especially fond of “practitioners of leisure.” What a thought! Thank goodness for civilization.
*I use the term with tongue-in-cheek, since it was invented as an excuse to allow those who were not clinical “alcoholics” to drink as much as they pleased–or could. The notion that “alcoholism” is a disease is as ridiculous as the claim that jumpy kids “need” Ritalin. Mind you, all kinds of money are made this way. I am reminded of a story I once heard. A middle-aged mother was told that her son was an alcoholic. She replied, “He’s not an alcoholic, my dear, he’s a drunkard.”
So be it. Amen.