Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I Don't Trust Teetotalers

I am not a heavy drinker. On those doctor forms that ask you how much alcohol you consume in a week, I would have to say 0-1, but it’s actually about .25. That is, I have a couple of glasses of wine (red or white) a month on the average. I am being honest; I have nothing to lose or gain by lying about my alcohol use. However, even with how little I drink, I will always trust a drinker over a non-drinker. I believe people who drink even as little as I do are more educated, tolerant, and less prone to lying than those who do not drink at all.

Take, for example, the attitude that many non-drinkers hold toward alcohol. Let us exclude those that do not drink because of an addiction problem. They have a legitimate excuse. The rest of the non-drinkers tend to approach alcohol with a pre-suppositional bias that drinking is inherently wrong. What moral code they base this on is unclear. Though many people have an innate (though they may not know it) moral code that is based on Judeo-Christian values, nowhere in the Bible is there an injunction against drinking. There are several passages that warn against drunkenness, but this is common sense. Not many people believe that being drunk is any way to go through life, and most regret their time of drunkenness after the fact. It is well known that Jesus Christ’s first recorded miracle was turning vats of water into wine at a wedding feast. And this was no ordinary boxed wine: this was the best quality wine. So, right off the bat, people who hold a grudge against drinking for moral reasons prove that they are uneducated, since the most influential man in history put his stamp of approval not only on drinking wine, but preferably good wine, showing additional taste and class.

Many people who do not drink show arrogance because there is always a perceptible snobbishness, or superior air, that emanates from these non-drinkers. “What are you drinking?” the educated drinker asks. “A caffeine free Diet Coke,” the teetotaler responds. “I don’t drink.” Now it’s time to order dinner. “A New York steak, medium rare,” the drinker states. “Just a salad,” utters the non-inbiber, adding, “Do you have just a vegetable plate?” Here surfaces another point that the non-drinker uses as a step from which to look down their noses at the drinker. Vegetarianism often goes hand-in-hand with non-drinking, creating more of a reason to not trust this person because they will surely always judge you as inferior. Most vegetarians inherently carry this trait, and it usually extends to their holding you in silent contempt. This will, in order, cause them to hold back from ever revealing their true feelings to you.

How about those people who don’t drink because, as they put it, “I don’t like the taste”? This demonstrates a lack of ambition and motivation on their parts. A cultivated palate is a sign of class, patience, and endurance. Many of the finer things in life, such as cigars and alcohol, require patience and a willingness to cultivate a taste for them. The educated person recognizes that these handcrafted items take time and skill to perfect, and the sharp mind is prone to be drawn to their pleasures. “I don’t like the taste” is the voice of a dullard, and the type of person who thinks Macaroni and Cheese is haute cuisine and laments the day “The Beverly Hillbillies” left the airwaves. It is hard to trust these people, because they make judgments without having all the facts or the patience to discover them.

Educated drinkers, on the other hand, are often from family backgrounds that did not place an anathema on alcohol. I was twelve when my Italian grandmother poured me my first glass of Cold Duck. It was expected that I should learn to cultivate a taste for wine early, so she started with some admittedly cheap wine but I believe this was to slowly get me acclimated to be able to appreciate finer wine later on. I regret I never had the decency to thank her. There was never any “attitude” or fear on the part of my family members when I requested wine at the dinner table. Since it was associated with the family meal, this was also a way to teach me that wine has its place on the table alongside salt, pepper, butter, and other condiments. It is best enjoyed with food. Since my family was willing to trust me to handle wine responsibly, I knew I could trust them.

Wine drinkers also, with time, learn that certain wines go best with certain foods. We learn that a Chardonnay is best with fish or chicken, and that a Merlot is wonderful with a Filet Mignon. Later, we discover other subtleties that lead us to a Pinot Noir or a Pinot Grigio. This is evidence of a patient, teachable spirit, one that is open and unprejudiced in its learning. People with these spirits are by far more honest and trustworthy than those who do not share this trait.

What is better to share with a friend when a long, honest talk is called for? Can you imagine hearing, “Sit down and let’s share this two-liter bottle of Diet Rite while we talk about our lives”? For heaven’s sake, no! I could not trust this person with my intimacies. First of all, this demonstrates an utter lack of education as to the harmful effects of ingesting such a large quantity of carbonated, synthetic beverage at once. This person would likely be more focused on their gas then they would my issues. What then? Of course, a bottle of wine is called for in such an instance. There is nothing better to open up conversation, reveal truth, and engender trust than sharing a bottle of wine with a close friend. The warm joy that comes from knowing you are casting your pearls before an educated, appreciative, patient, and enduring soul is the stuff long friendships are made of.

Drinkers are invariably your best friends. They are honest, trustworthy, educated, artistic, and appreciative of higher things. Teetotalers are boorish, will judge you, appreciate only their own snobbery, and have no tolerance for high culture. Educated drinkers and generally not drunkards, because they are smart enough to know when enough is enough. Teetotalers, on the other hand, will usually go from nothing to complete biliousness should they ever take a drink because they lack the brains and class to know any better.