"Who does not love wine, women, and song, remains a fool his whole life long."
I was challenged to write a three-part entry about three of the best things in life (besides Conan's answer, of course). I'll begin my discourse on booze, broads, and ballads with my thoughts on the libations that lubricate loquation.
I am a fan of alcohol. Not for its own sake, mind you, but rather as a medium through which to share pleasurable experiences. It is the air through which conversation floats. It is the blood shared by friends, and the libation of the gods. It eases interactions with strangers, giving common ground, and is the feeling of familiarity that hangs around old friends like clouds of smoke hugging a freight train.
My mother, God love her precious soul, is vehemently opposed to the consumption of any sort of spirit, neglecting to take note that they're named after the things they raise and embolden. She refers to wine left in proper conditions as "likker", just as she does with a wonderful scotch, or a full-bodied bourbon, or a crisp vodka, which makes me wonder exactly where I got this taste for the fullness of flavor and experience I enjoy in my booze. I wish there were a way to show my mother that in alcohol, one may find company, discourse, philosophy, joy, or truth. That the addition of a libation to even the most mundane circumstances, given the right group of people, will heighten the mood of the evening--not simply through chemistry and neuron interaction, but through an indescribable spiritual and mental cognizance of the simple greatness of now.
Through the proper application of good company (old friends or new) and alcohol, one may recite the past without dwelling on it, dream of the future without limit, and unlock the complete potential of the very moment one is standing in. You talk about yourself more, but the facts you give tell more about yourself. You listen more intently than you would normally, and laugh at jokes without reservation. Wine is both the glue that binds new friendships and the acetone that dissolves inhibitions.
The drink changes the perception of the man, as well. If I order a whiskey, I'm treated with the respect afforded a paragon of manhood, gruff but with taste. When I order a martini ("Vodka martini, stirred lightly, and make it a Dickens."), suddenly all the prettiest girls in the bar take notice of me, whatever I'm wearing. It works for either gender; when a woman drinks wine, I see her as either a sophisticate or a lightweight, depending on the type and situation. When she orders a scotch neat, however, she becomes a hardass, someone I'm more likely to swap war stories with than ice-breaking anecdotes. Both women are attractive, they're just so in different ways.
It should be noted at this point that I am not an advocate of drunkenness. It dulls the wit, the senses, and the ability to stand correctly. Drunkenness is the theft of class and sophistication, and should only be undertaken in the safest of circumstances with people that already love you enough to deal with it. Drunkenness should be a consequence and never, ever an intent. It isn't enjoyable to stumble haphazardly about, drooling on oneself, throwing out your worst game. If it happens in the course of an evening, that's fine--don't seek it. It marks you as someone bereft of both class and good sense.
Whatever the reason, whatever the drink, a life without a sip now and then seems like it's missing something. As Franklin said, "Beer is proof that God loves us, and wants us to be happy." He also, in His infinite wisdom, created wine--something man simply discovered and refined. Whiskey is a form of liquid grain storage with pleasant flavor and social side-effects. Alcohol lets you tell great stories, and make great new ones. Drink responsibly.
"Burgundy makes you think of silly things,
Bordeaux makes you talk of them,
and Champagne makes you do them."