I'm thinking about alcohol this afternoon. No, I don't mean that I need a drink... or that I'm going sneak off during business hours to have one. I'm must feeling reflective about how my attitude and my relationship with alcohol has changed during the last 15 years or so.
As Dr. Johnny Fever, erstwhile radio deejay for sitcom radio station WKRP, used to say "alcohol used to be a 'hobby'". I find that young people are often drawn to experiences in quantity rather than quality (sex, drink, decibels at rock concerts), and I have to say that I was no exception. When beer was to be had, I was usually nearby and gained something of a reputation for it. Drinking, tragically, became something of a contest between me and my friends, with the winner being able to consume the most on a regular basis.
Of course, it is with some irony that I even associate the word "winning" with drinking. I say that because given the amounts of alcohol we consumed, we all pretty much lost when we awoke on many a following morning sick with hangover.
I think that the low point for me came when I was just two months shy of my twenty-first birthday. I'd been out at a party drinking with my frineds at college, imbibing a truly foul combination of American pilsner beer, a mixed cocktail called a "blue sky" made from vodka, grenadine, and 151 rum (so-called because of the blue flame it makes when it is lit on fire), and straight Baccardi 151 shots. As you might imagine, I got violently ill from this toxic mixture. I became so nauseous that my body's attempts to expel the mixture broke blood vessels in my gut. On seeing this, my friends called an ambulance and I got to spend a night drying out in the campus health center. I guess I must have "won" that night because I was barred from attending parties given by my hosts that night for over a year, an act described by a mutual friend as akin to "getting thrown out of hockey game for fighting too much".
Fortunately, my relationship with alcohol is not what it once was. I find that age brings a desire for refinement in the pleasures that one experiences. So while I have not abandoned my taste for beer, wine, or liquor, I am much more selective and much less frequent in my pleasures... now glad to drink a pint or two of Full Sail Amber ale, or Guiness, or Anchor Steam, if I am of a mind for beer. I have friends who are dedicated wine fiends who regularly introduce me to bottles of wine ($50-70 and up) that I would never buy for myself, as well as cheap supermarket blends that compare quite well with their more expensive bretheren.
Of special note is the fact that I've just recently joined the American branch of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society . I first became acquainted with the Society about three years ago when I visited a cousin who was enjoying an extended 3 year stay in Edinburgh. He took me to the Society's tasting room at the Vaults at Leith, where we sat in leather chairs in front of a coal fire and I got my first sense of the variety of tastes and flavors available in malt whiskey (especially at cask strength -- usually 110-120 proof). I'm now pleased to say that my first society bottle has arrived - poured directly from a 10 year old Ardmore cask, often used for blending, but rarely seen as a single malt on its own.
on 2003-03-24 at 4:41 p.m.
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