Archive for May, 2006

Eight Years’ Labor

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

To think that this man’s labor of eight years earned only 800 dollars:

Probably he should have drunk ale, not lager.

The Ins and the Outs

Sunday, May 14th, 2006

I like to drink — a lot — and I’m good at it. I’m not so good at talking about drinking. But more and more often I find myself at parties stuck talking to guys who want to discuss where the grapes were grown or what grain goes into which whiskey. My general inclination is to say, “Who cares? Let’s watch the game!” — but then I feel like a rube. Where can I learn enough to fake it? — Bill

Young fellow, while you must know that I don’t condone lager-fueled hooliganism, you may be surprised to learn that my natural tendencies lie closer to yours than to your allegedly erudite party cohorts. They have undoubtedly watched too many James Bond movies in which 007 astonishes his tablemates and humiliates the waiter — before ultimately bedding the girl — by identifying not only the vintage and the grape but the precise acre upon which the grape was grown. This is, of course, balderdash. In reality, every man jack at the table (the vixen, too) would instantly write our man James off as a pretentious toff.

I am all in favor of acquiring a taste for the finer things, and of examining any fact which may pass over the transom. If drinking is one’s hobby, it’s only understandable that one would develop a voracious thirst for learning all the fine points of potage. Yet this way lies a madness known to model train builders and trainspotters alike.

But, really, my distaste for learning why ale is bottom-fermented and lager is top-fermented comes from a different reason: I can’t be bothered. I know a great deal about the tastes that lie within different bottles, but very little about how those tastes come to be. Why should I? I am financially comfortable, and have no need to make my own beer, wine, or spirits. I drive a car; does that mean I should also know how to gap my own spark plugs? Of course not. I have a man to do that for me.

My dear Bill, don’t become a slave to another man’s obsession. If you drink because you like the taste, that’s good enough. If he drinks because he is enraptured by the physical processes by which vegetable matter becomes our friend alcohol, God go with him.