Starting 2009 On The Right Note: Why We Drink: UPDATED

It's my first entry of 2009. I could think of a hundred things to write about. Rational drinking is as good a subject as any. I've had plenty to say about it in the past year or so. (*1)

I bring this up not because I'm suffering a new-year's-eve hangover, but because I just read Lew Bryson's thoughtful essay on drinking over at his blog, Seen Through A Glass. So I turn this first entry of 2009 over to Lew. After all, what's the blogosphere for if not sharing, giving credit where credit is due, and informing and educating each other? (When you "borrow" from someone else's blog, you DO mention your source and provide a link back to that person, right? Right???)

UPDATE: Alan from The Good Beer Blog promptly weighed in on Lew's ruminations on drinking. Worth reading, if only because Alan, like me, is a contrarian and I can always count on him to balk at The Party Line. But I will add my two cents, prompted by this part of Alan's post:

I have found myself leaving sessions far earlier than others for some time now, finding the second half of the night far less interesting than the outset. And I try to make sure there are many non-drinking activities in the social calendar hopefully giving beer the place somewhere closer to a treat than a daily necessity.

I don't think Lew was advocating drinking to excess, or even making drink the center of one's life. Rather, I think he was expressing frustration at the notion that having a drink is the same thing as being a drunk.

It's not. I'm an upright, decent human being, and I consume alcohol every day: a drink before dinner, wine or beer with, and a tot of good brandy, porter, or, rye, or scotch about 9 pm. I defy anyone to prove that I'm a bad person because of it, or that I'm unproductive. And I can't remember the last time I was drunk. (I think it was during a trip to New York in 1990 or 1991.)

What I do favor, however, are sensible attitudes toward drink: Don't drink too much. But by god and goddamnit, part of a sensible attitude toward drink is perspective. Don't equate "having a drink" with being a drunk. (That's not what Alan was saying, by the way, so I'm not picking on him.) The idiots among us ("Oh, I don't drink. I don't need alcohol to have fun.") don't (or won't) understand that good alcohol tastes good, and things that taste good produce pleasure.

As does the aftermath: I enjoy eating the fine chocolate, good steak, or a juicy orange, but I also enjoy how I feel AFTER I've ingested them.

So I will continue to enjoy drink and the pleasure it brings, just as I enjoy my family, watching the birds, walking, my thrice-weekly swims, 'Battlestar Galactica," and fresh fruit. Ha! I promised myself my first post of 2009 would be concise and cogent. I sure blew that.


*1: Find the "Categories" index. Click on "rational drinking." Or, read my US News & World Report op-ed piece from early December.