Do you remember how, in 1960s sitcoms, there was a standard refrain of the amusing drunk? Bewitched had its stock drunk, who was always around to be witness to the various witches' comings and goings -- and, of course, no one believed him. The Dick Van Dyke show also liked to toy with drunks. Indeed, one of the funniest episodes ever had a hypnotist make it so that, every time the phone rang, Rob would act like a complete drunk, only to stop the next time the phone range, ad infinitum. Van Dyke's physical humor was perfect for this type of comedy. The only sad part watching this episode, with 20/20 hindsight, is to know that Van Dyke was sliding down into real dysfunctional alcoholism even as audiences of the time watched and laughed. The reason I'm thinking about this is because I went to a lunch party today and one of the guests got dysfunctionally drunk. It was not funny. It was embarrassing and disgusting. I'm not a great yardstick of these things, since I don't drink (I don't like the stuff, and I don't like anything that impairs my self-control, even minimally), but her conduct went beyond the pale to the point where everyone in the place was engrossed in the spectacle. What I wished, in a bizarre way, was that my kids could have had a glimpse of this. We've taught them, by pointing to friends who drink responsibly, that drinking alcohol can be a socially appropriate thing, but it's very hard to get them to understand why we place limits on that conduct. Seeing a sloppy, disgusting drunk is a great lesson about the downside of alcohol -- or, indeed, about the downside of abusing anything. UPDATE: When I wrote the above, I didn't realize that there is still a small group out there celebrating the "romance" of drunkeness. But so it is. I tuned into NationalReview Online and read the following:
At the beginning of his interview, Frank Kelly Rich apologizes for having missed an earlier interview we had scheduled. He was out conducting research for an article, he explains, and couldn’t be reached. By that he means he was out having a drink. Well, more than a drink. Actually, it was a “mini-bender.” It happens fairly often too.He may be right about the "neo-prohibitionism" but, frankly, afterspending some time with a serious drunk, I'll take neo-prohibitionism any time. Talking to Technorati: Drunks
“Sometimes they’ll be actual seven-day style ones, especially when I’m researching a story,” he said in a phone interview from his native Denver, Colorado.
Those kinds of work habits would get most people in trouble with the boss, but not Rich. Not only because he’s his own boss, but because his work literally demands serious drinking. Rich is the founder, editor, and guiding light behind Modern Drunkard Magazine.
Now in its tenth year, with a circulation around 35,000, the bi-monthly humor magazine celebrates all things related to drinking alcohol. For those who can’t find it on the newsstand, a compilation of its most popular articles was published last year.
Inspired by the likes of Frank Sinatra’s Rat Pack, poet Charles Bukowski, W. C. Fields, and countless others, Modern Drunkard recalls those earlier eras when getting hammered nightly was the height of coolness, not a cry for help. Its mission today is to preserve that culture against a rising tide of “neo-prohibitionism” that Rich says is slowly overtaking America.