Biting the hand

The other day I stopped by a weekly gathering of friends of mine, a local watering hole to which a number gather for happy hour. As I swung out of the car and strode toward the door, I thought about how my appearance here was always to renew contacts and solicit participants for some event or other.

One of the first friends I saw came over to me saying “you’re getting to be quite a regular here.” Well, I told him, not really, but I know where to catch everybody. “No, he said, you are kinda becoming a part of this group.”

I explained my quest to get as many people as possible to march within the peace contigent which we were sneaking into the apolitical St. Patrick’s Day parade under cover of the Bookman bookmobile entry. The bookmobile is bright green, a shoe-in for St. Patrick’s Day. And it’s a good cause in itself: children’s literacy. This time the message would be broadened to encompass moral literacy.

I knew my friend traditionally rode his bicycle in this parade. I asked him if he might be interested in doubling back and joining what I’d hoped would be a mass of peace marchers. The bookmobile spot was near the end of the parade. Perhaps there would be time after his early bicycle gig to make his way back and ride with us. It seemed all the more easy since he’d be on a bike. And the cause of world peace is pretty hard to resist.

No, he said. Not possible. After the parade it’s a tradition for his crew to head straight to his house, make a beeline to the booze is what he said specifically.

Now I don’t want to be judgmental. Maybe the parade is rather arduous by bicycle, maybe drinking beer is the only natural order of business. Who am I to question whether self-medication is a perfectly legitimate coping mechanism to this world gone awry. Maybe there is a path to inner peace through communal inebriation. Maybe they’ve got a plan to raise world consciousness by drinking together. It’s not impossible that such a strategy could be a million times more likely to succeed than a sober one.

I did ask myself if I was once again taking for granted that public protest was the only honorable position to take on the war. And once again I felt like an outsider at that bar. I thought to myself, on this drinking thing, I am so not with you.

Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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