Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

sobering reflections

"There'll be lots of time and wine
Red yellow honey, sassafras and moonshine
Red yellow honey
Sassafras and moonshine (moonshine)
Stoned soul, stoned soul
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic"--one-time relevant song covered by the Fifth Dimension

I grew up in a dry county, with moonshiners and bootleggers and police people who came out and emptied out stills. For the uninitiated, moonshiners make illegal alcohol, while bootleggers merely smuggle in store-bought. As I recall, it was not hard to figure out who was "in the business".

One of my schoolmates' father worked as a moonshiner. I wonder what his resume said:

Job Aspiration:
To find a position consistent with my love for making whiskey cheaper than the competition on a semi-private basis
Gurdon High School
Functional Description of Work Experience:
Extensive background in personal retail manufacturing and sales, focusing on organic mechanical processes and fermentation technology
Positions held:
Owner, XYZ Trucking and Machine Works, Okalona Road, Arkansas
Hunting, fishing, high speed chases
Personal credo:
"One man's monkeyshines is another man's moonshine".
References available on request, provided no questions asked.

The only one of my classmates who bootlegged became a Baptist minister. At "fancy dress banquets", the beverage of choice was iced tea, a concoction for which I have nothing but disdain. "Fancy dress" in my culture context meant polyester suit and tie, clip ties permissible. I miss clip-on ties.

When I was in high school, the kids had a drinking club for which they went to a nearby lake, printing up tickets and the like, in the sort of silly way that only the 1970s could generate. Alcohol sales were legal in that county, so their only "sin" was being underage. I never drank then; I almost never drink now. It's not a matter of personal virtue--I just get bored with alcohol. In law school, I promised myself I would learn to discern wines, things like knowing a Riojas from an Alsatian. But in my older age I figured out I still like Diet Coke better.

Bacchus is a kinda cool Greek god, it seems to me, a party kinda guy, but not without a bit of mystical appeal. But I think that the carbonated soft drinks have their own appeal--a sort of post-modern, post-saint-ish ethical culturishness. No "god of Cola". No "patron saint of carbonation".

They say that Carrie Nation carried an axe (or a hatchet) which she used upon alcohol supplies, which, in my opinion, is far better than giving her mother forty whacks or her father forty one. But Prohibition failed, and she died insane.

It's hard to imagine, with hindsight, how it ever became law.
I wonder, too, if I am a bit reductivist when I write "Prohibition failed and she died insane".

That's the problem with commitment, of course--it's not just that you commit, it's that you have your values in a row. Everyone needs a cause, but such causes people choose--theosophy, eugenics, and who knows how our current causes will seem, decades hence. What is the right thing to do? The high school drinking club? Spoiling peoples' fun?

I have lost friends to alcohol. I have had friends whose lives were ruined by drugs. But banning things--a problem. I have no problem with banning stuff that makes one violent. But marijuana? Cigarettes? High fat snacks? Hmmm.....

I guess the only thing I ever did approaching a mood-altering high (my few moments of intoxication being largely uninteresting and the entendre being non-journal-worthy) came from meditation-type experiences. I used to love in high school that feeling, half nightdream and half meditation, that I was hovering in a sky within my eyes.

I'd like to listen to my shortwave radio, then drift off, and drift in that place again.
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