Friday, August 19, 2011

Beer There, Done That

During times of great distress, we talk about “drowning our sorrows” in beer.  During times of great celebration, we toast one another with beer.  Beer is the perfect food for all occasions and situations, much like the GOP views tax cuts.  Both can cure anything, as long as supplied in great quantity.  Unfortunately, only the beer drinkers are correct on this point.  America’s love affair with beer can be summed up by quoting Justin Timberlake, the inventor of the wardrobe malfunction: “Beer never got mad at me because I didn’t call beer back.”  That guy is a regular Ralph Waldo Emerson.

In keeping with the Great American Obsession, there is a new iPhone app that directs you to the nearest beer at the best price.  More discriminating tastes will be impressed by its ability to sort selections by beer brand.  Technology meets Sloth.  Ten years ago, cell phones made calls without the benefit of wires, and that was a good thing.  Now, we have arrived at a point where a sober driver can cause an accident by searching on his phone for cheap beer.  That would be an interesting ticket to receive from Officer Krupke: Distracted while driving by the intent to drink - 30 days in the hole.

Finding the cheapest beer is one way to go, however there are more discriminating connoisseurs of the frothy brew these days.  Beer is the new wine.  I grew up during a time when price was the ultimate judge of quality.  Actually, quantity was synonymous with quality.  In my good ol' days, a fine beer was not judged by its hoppy flavor or its hint of lemon spice.  It was judged by its’ temperature.  Cold beer was the equivalent of 12 year old scotch.  Warm beer was…well, not to be.  Warm beer could be converted to the delicacy of cold beer, but that took time and refrigeration.  Usually only refrigeration is an available resource; time is a luxury that a person who downloads a cheap beer phone app cannot afford.

Beer and its upscale relatives are not to be dismissed solely as a scourge on society.  Au contraire.  Happier nations, as measured by divorce and suicide rates, along with incidences of mental illness, drink more.  Nations with a higher level of education drink more.  Countries with white collar, knowledge-based economies have a higher prevalence of drinking.  It could be that it’s the liberal elites with their preference for “science” and “facts” are the ones putting smiles on all those national faces.  I should read a book on that.

Recently the U.S. was ranked the 56th most bibulous nation on earth by the World Health Organization, as measured by per capita alcohol consumption.  Clearly, this study ignored the parking lot at the Meadowlands on a warm Sunday in October.  That aside, this low global ranking would explain our recent malaise, dour outlook on the future and the instability in our stock markets.  We just need a few cold ones.  Sounds like a strong campaign theme for someone looking to shake up the weak GOP field.  "Chris Christie for President: We Just Need a Few Cold Ones.”

It is possible, I suppose, that I have this theory backwards.  As Richard Florida in The Atlantic asked, is “happiness the cause of all that boozing, or the effect?”  We may never know, but in the meantime, I have an idea…

Who’s buying?  Have a great weekend.  Here we go...

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