Tuesday, August 31, 2010
When I heard the news of the trapped Chilean minors I, out of spiritual habit, said a prayer that heroes would save their lives.
I can’t think of a worse slow death than being entombed alive.
Now that euphoric videos of the 33 men have been released and the outlook for eventual rescue is positive, I have a new prayer.
I’m praying they’ll invite me to join them in what Jay Leno’s calling the ultimate man cave.
I haven’t seen a party like this since the destruction of the old Berlin Wall.
They have access to movies, taped sporting events and board games. A life-sustaining umbilical linking them to the surface is about 4-inches in diameter, just wide enough to transport a constant mule train of brats and canned beers.
Parts of it remind me some giddy weekends back in the old fraternity house in Athens, Ohio.
I’ve heard it may take as long as four months to extricate them. Most have already lost about 20 pounds since the August 5 cave-in -- and this was considered a positive development: smaller men will reduce rescue hole circumference and essential drill time.
Talk about incentive. If they keep losing 20 pounds every three weeks someone with stout lungs will be able to suck them all to safety with a really, really long straw in time to trick or treat.
This makes the already-compelling team dynamic even more intriguing. Will the tubby guys let the skinny guys go first while they endure more girth-decreasing calisthenics?
If all goes well the men will be freed around Christmas although for symbolic purposes I’m hoping a resurrection happens on Easter.
Until then, we are about to be privy to one of the most fascinating case studies of human interaction in recorded history. I’m going to be glued to what has the makings of the greatest reality TV show in history.
People spent hours staring at the gushing Deep Horizon well. Imagine how much we’d watch if they kept a live feed in the rec room beneath Chile’s Atacama Desert.
It’s happening already. One of the miners proposed to his surface girlfriend and swore he’d help her pick out the dress as soon as he reaches the surface. But will their love endure? Will she stray?
What other human dynamics will unfold over the course of the next three months?
Perhaps two of the men way down there in the lonely dark will become amorous and emerge as lovers. Certainly, one of the 33 will get on everyone else’s nerves. Will they decide to slay and fillet him?
Right now, we’re getting force fed all the uplifting stories authorities want us to hear.
Certainly, there is much heroism and admirable behavior, but those are far from the only components in our behavioral tool kits.
I understand this because I was one of the hundreds of reporters at the Quecreek Mine in 2002 when subterranean flooding stranded nine miners for four days about 45 minutes due east and roughly 240 feet straight south of my western Pennsylvania home. A couple magazines contacted me about providing spot news coverage, which I was thrilled to do.
Eight years later, two events remain vivid: first, my wife and I weeping when Gov. Mark Schweiker announced all nine miners were alive and well.
And, second, was an interview with one of the 50-something miners whom I visited a week after his dramatic rescue. I asked what he was thinking about way down in that dark, dank mine.
“I thought, man, if I ever get out of here alive the next time anyone catches me underground will be the day they bury me and I’m going to spend the rest of my life stoned immaculate. And I’m off to a really fine start.”
I think of that stoned immaculate guy whenever I hear stories about how brave and fearless the Chilean miners all are.
I’m sure some of them are, but for the most part they are just a bunch of regular guys marooned in an isolated cell that would drive 99.9 percent of the world mad.
And that’s what makes it all so fascinating.
Tweet of the week at http://twitter.com/8Days2Amish: “Does anyone think any of the other kids were mean to him because Jeremiah was a bullfrog?”
Friday, August 27, 2010
I guess it all starts with me wanting to be a garbage man. Some would say I achieved that goal from 1992-2000 when I worked for National Enquirer, a job that required sifting through the occasional trash bin.
But I’m not talking about a journalistic trash man.
I’m talking about the real thing.
As a boy, I’d thrill every time the big truck with the burly men hanging off the back came roaring up the road. They were big, noisy and boisterous. They’d seize the big barrels, frisbee the lids into the hedges and dump all our stinking trash into the big maw in the back.
Then -- EERRRRGGGHH! -- they’d press the button and all the newspapers, food stuffs, bottles and cans we threw away before enlightened recycling began was devoured in the hungry maw.
I never dreamed of sitting in a small, still room all by myself spending hours crafting pointless stories destined to be ignored by the multitudes.
Geez, when I think of it in those stark terms, it’s a wonder I don’t run screaming over to Waste Management and beg them to let me jump on the back of a big green truck bound for the local dump.
And, really, why wouldn’t most men?
It’s real work.
Martin Luther King Jr. was slain while he was engaged trying to bestow common dignity to Memphis trash haulers. The association further ennobles my appreciation for the men who haul garbage.
That’s why this morning I’m feeling so ashamed. I played a malicious trick on a man who contributes so much more for society than I could ever hope to.
Yes, this morning I pranked the trash man.
I know every week on this day he shows up in pouring rain, sizzling sun and does his dirty duties. When the record February snows closed schools, streets and businesses, this two-man crew never missed a day or slipped off schedule.
And every day when they are out there behind The Pond, the tavern above which my office is strategically located, I stop whatever I’m doing and race to the window to watch.
It’s true. It takes them about 10 minutes to hook up the winch and raise the dumpster so all the bar trash falls into the truck. The two-man crew is so conscientious, I’ve never seen so much as a bottle cap drop onto the parking lot.
Then the shaven-headed guy with the sunny demeanor to match his tanned complexion reverses the procedure. The winch cable sets the dumpster back down near the fence between the lot and family home behind it.
It’s easier work than it used to be and safer, I’m sure, but there’s still potential to get a careless hand squashed by all the heavy lifting machinery.
Then baldy unhooks the cable, jumps back on the truck and is again on his merry way.
But earlier this spring I observed him adding a surprising natural function to the procedure.
He’d step behind the angled dumpster with his back to the fence. He’d remove his work gloves and set them on the big green bin. He’d look left. He’d look right. He’d look left again.
Even with his body concealed, any man and most worldly women could tell exactly what he was doing.
The trash man was urinating behind the dumpster!
It was broad daylight. It’s in a business parking lot that would soon be crowded with lunch patrons. It’s between two busy streets where people push strollers and walk their dogs.
It seemed so audacious. I was amazed. Certainly, I couldn’t begrudge him need for relief. It’s not likely a local restaurant or customer would welcome him into their homes to use the bathroom.
So a guy’s gonna do what a guy’s gotta to do.
Yet a surprisingly prim part of me felt compelled to signal that using my bar’s dumpster for a toilet was improper.
So today from behind the curtains of my second floor office, I lay in wait for him to answer nature’s call.
He did his job then he removed the gloves. He looked left. He looked right. He looked left again. I waited until he assumed the relaxed posture of a man whose bladder is beginning to spill.
Then I pushed the red panic button on my car fob. Not twenty feet to his left, the only car in the parking lot, my Saturn Vue, began rhythmically and loudly honking.
I don’t know how I expected him to react, but here’s what happened:
He jumped as if he’d been tased. His feet left the ground. His expression was similar to that of a jewel thief caught in the act.
A weekly routine of his that usually lasted in excess of 50 seconds was over in 8.
Startled, he zipped up and zipped back into the truck. In a flash, he and the truck were gone. Only an echo of the engine remained amid the swirling stink.
And there behind the cowardly curtain, I began to laugh. I laughed my ass off for about 10 minutes. And now an hour later, every couple of minutes, I’m still chuckling.
It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
And I feel small because of it.
It was a dirty, low-down trick on a noble, hard-working man doing a job few admire and fewer would do.
I know some day I’ll need to make amends.
One day I’ll see him in that parking lot and I’m going to apologize. I’ll tell him about my dirty trick and that the prankster in me just couldn’t resist.
Then I’ll offer my hand in apology and respect. I hope he’ll shake it.
And if he does, I know exactly what I’m going to do next.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I can’t help but think there’s got to be a game show out there that could use 550 million spoiled eggs.
Rather than grouse over yet another national catastrophe -- yawn -- and symbol of our steady decline, I see a sunny side of the need to dispose of all these rotten eggs (in an effort to make this egg-pun free, I’ll pass on the sunny side up gimme).
First, we should all be grateful this didn’t happen around Easter. And for a moment, let’s wonder why we have an Easter Bunny instead of an Easter Chicken.
It would take some getting used to, but a visit by the egg-bearing Easter Chicken makes more sense.
But what do you do with all these eggs? Bury them? Are they hazardous?
As the guy who’d always stop for eggs prior to every Devil’s Night escapade, I sense opportunity.
There’s just something about the egg, that shape, so easy to toss. Anything it hits, so sure to slime. In the hands of veteran vandals, the egg is a handy goo grenade.
You’d think the producers of “Wipe Out,” the ABC dimwit gloopfest, would grasp the possibilities. I like the show format which involves pulverizing imbeciles, but the idiot host banter makes it unwatchable with the volume up.
It’s just one more reason to look forward to September 15 and the return of “Survivor” host Jeff Probst, the Robert DeNiro of reality show hosts before Robert DeNiro started making too many Ben Stiller movies.
I think these rotten eggs could be used to bind us in ways more patriotic than the kind of binding that occurs after excessive cheese consumption.
I envision communities hosting enormous egg-stacking competitions, egg juggling, long-distance egg tosses. I see enormous egg pyramids being crushed by determined steamrollers.
How about a pay-per-view between warring Republicans and Democrats squaring off in some kind of reenactment of the battle of Gettysburg fought with eggs?
Yesterday may have been the first day in bar history the conversation was dominated by chickens and eggs. Present were three teachers intent on getting soused before being summoned back to educate our community morons.
They were just three stools down from a guy who’d just won $100 at Pittsburgh’s Rivers Casino playing that old county fair standby, the Tic Tac Toe-playing chicken.
When the news about all the bad eggs came on, the teachers immediately talked about the bad eggs they’d soon be charged with teaching things like math. They had a lively discussion of how to rid the world of the bad eggs that make them all sick.
Then the casino patron piped up about his game victory over the chicken.
“The chicken went first and -- get this -- he didn’t take the center spot,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. So now I got two ways to win . . .”
Had anyone entered the bar in the next five minutes, it would have been understandable if they’d mistakenly thought they were hearing a man recall the time he bested Henry Kissinger at chess. He was very proud of outsmarting that chicken.
The news showed that many of the salmonella eggs came in big cartons of 36 eggs. My buddy wondered who, besides commercial establishments, would ever need so many potentially poisonous eggs.
We concluded only Kate Gosselin and that Duggar family and even the morose teachers’ moods brightened.
Me, I get to enjoy that smug feeling that comes from knowing our eco-sensitivities mean this is one chicken recall I can duck.
We purchase organic eggs from a woman known around the area as The Egg Lady and the superheroic connotation for at least today applies.
She delivers us a dozen delicious eggs for just $1.75 every week or so. How she does it for so little, I do not know.
I do know she’s proud of her chickens and her humane operation. She treats the free range animals with the same dignity and care with which I’d hope I’d be treated if someone oversaw me laying between 250-275 eggs a year, as the average hen does.
Her chickens are so refined that I’ve often thought of visiting these yard birds for a little conversation or perhaps some tea.
But no undignified games of chance. I’d be afraid I’d lose.
When it comes to matching wits with fowl, I’m the chicken.
Friday, August 20, 2010
The news that Roger Clemens is being indicted for perjury in a steroid investigation set off another round of hand-wringing among baseball’s ivory tower purists.
You know the ones. They engage in tedious discussions about who does or does not belong in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
Gatekeepers, mostly professional sportswriters, feel honor bound to keep it free from taint. They won’t vote all-time hit king Pete Rose in for gambling and have shown a stout aversion to keeping out greats like Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and now Roger Clemens. There’s no chance any of them will ever be deemed hall worthy.
This is perfectly understandable. It’s outrageous to me that the great and dignified Hank Aaron’s home run record is now second to a sullen cheater like Bonds. And I like baseball nut/historian/documentarian Ken Burns’s suggestion that Rose should not be admitted until the day after he dies.
This solution would serve the dual benefits of denying Rose the chance to gloat for even one day and it would save the rest of us from having to see his awful haircut ever again.
But a big part of me feels the achievements of the steroid cheaters should be celebrated.
I was there for all of it. My most rabid baseball fandom occurred during what is being called The Steroid Era, or might I suggest, The Steroid Error.
Because everyone -- the players, the owners, the unions, the fans, the broadcasters -- we were all complicit.
As one popular promo from the times said, “Chicks dig the long ball.”
So did the rest of us.
I leapt to my feet when McGwire hit no. 62. I loved watching him and the now pale-skinned Sammy Sosa slug it out. I was awed as guys like light-hitting Brady Anderson went from 16 homers in 1995 to 50 the next year and back to 18 in 1997. And watching Bonds demolish long-standing home run records was impressive.
These accomplishments, however tainted, should be memorialized.
That’s why baseball needs a Steroid User Hall of Fame.
The Cooperstown hall is a Colonial brick structure with few architectural flourishes
The Steroid User HOF in, of course, Las Vegas, needs to make the Taj Mahal look like a Holiday Inn Express. The facade will be done in cheap stucco to mimic the acne-ravaged skin symptomatic of long-time steroid users.
Like the juiced players it will be built to honor, it should be massive and tasteless and devoid of any presumption of adherence to local building codes.
Enter at your own risk, because the Steroid User HOF will be structurally unsound.
The baseball hall of fame has plaques featuring bas relief faces of the players above straight forward recitations of their on-field accomplishments.
The Steroid User HOF will borrow a page from the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, where neck-up busts of the players line the halls.
But the Steroid User HOF will go one better, or two, actually.
Each honored player will have two statues, one from his rookie year and one from the day of his indictment or other infamy.
Imagine the picture taking opportunities besides the Bonds rookie and the Bonds retired/indicted statue. Human growth hormones made Bonds’s hat size leap from 7 1/8 to 7 1/2, an increase of one inch in circumference to his shaved head.
The Vegas hall could include a wing for miscreant ball players like Rose and others who excelled while battling gambling, booze or sex addictions. Determining these players is still a highlight of our early summer games when the All-Star ballots are passed around the ballparks.
While other fans select all stars based on hitting, fielding, or arm strength, we highlight the hungover and make votes for a team we call the Betty Ford All Stars.
Instead of a traditional gift shop, the Steroid User HOF will have a pharmacy where customers can purchase many of the supplements that MLB deemed perfectly safe and legal when fans were paying to see the sluggers go to work.
In honor of counterfeit home run king Barry Bonds price of admission will be $762, a dollar for each home run Bonds hit.
But the Steroid User Hall of Fame building will feature numerous unguarded entrances and visitors will be encouraged to find creative and illegal ways to sneak in.
The only real way to get into the Steroid User Hall of Fame will be to cheat.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
I knew we were going to get a dog. I just never dreamed we’d be getting the dog we did.
Surrendering to the inertia of a child pleading for a puppy is inevitable. A 9-year-old girl is so earnest and tells such sweet, convincing lies.
“I’ll be responsible. I’ll take care of it. I promise!”
We’ve had the dog four days and I’ll bet I’ve already spent a combined six pre-dawn hours standing outside encouraging an animal I barely know to move its bowels.
That’s a big part of pet ownership. You stand outside in all kinds of weather urging the dog to poop. And when it does you feel one of the oddest surges of true happiness.
When the girls and their mom called and said they found a farmer who was giving away really cute puppies, I tried to picture the bright side, the side that didn’t involve hours waiting for a dog to poop or get done sniffing stuff it finds fascinating.
I thought of the companionship, the warmth, the wagging tale when you walk in the room.
I thought of our last dog, Casey, a sweet, loving golden retriever, with whom I spent countless joyful days playing frisbee. That dog could have joined the circus. He was a sturdy fellow and loved to lounge beside us in the front of the fire.
I certainly didn’t think of Snickers.
He’s part pug, part chihuahua, a parental pairing that sounds like the screwball premise for some canine rom-com.
He’s a purse puppie, the kind Paris Hilton uses as a fashion accessory.
This is a dog whose fangs will never seize a soaring frisbee.
I keep referring to him with female pronouns. I can’t believe we’re the same gender. French poodles could bully lunch money from a dog like this.
Right now, we’re collectively failing at house training. We have the crate, know the ground rules, and are ever vigilant to its every twitch.
The problem is the dog does nothing but twitch. I fear it’s going to be high strung, not the kind to sit by fires, but the kind that starts them.
My wife’s upset the puppy doesn’t seem to be taking to house training. Every accident sends her into a frenzy of wipes, disinfectant and alien admonishments to a dog that still doesn’t really speak dog yet, let alone English.
Me, I practically bark with laughter, “You call that a crap!”
Right now, its tidy little turds and its thimble-sized bladder spills are to me the dog’s most endearing trait.
Everything about it is diminutive. Casey used to bolt from the yard and could be gone for hours.
Snickers could bust loose during the catchy theme to “True Blood” and I wouldn’t bother to pursue her, er, him, until the show’s bloody conclusion.
It would take him 20 minutes at a full sprint to make it to the curb.
I’m sure I’ll grow to love it. I made many of these verbatim complaints about Josie and Lucy when they were born, and I’ve grown to love them very much.
But right now he’s just a nuisance. I can’t stoop low enough to pet him without tipping over.
He bites our toes. If any hoodlum breaks into house we have to hope he’s barefoot.
He’s so insubstantial I fear I’ll sit on him and confuse his death struggle for a mosquito bite I’m too bored to scratch.
(Another HBO plug: That very thing happened with Christopher Moltisanti on “The Sopranos.” He came home high and crushed the life out of Adrianna’s annoying little dog when he passed out on the couch, an ass-whacking which led to a comical intervention among the mobsters.)
So it’s just another layer on our summer of discontent. Good news has been evasive, we’ve warred over family functions, house projects and have spent this entire, scorching summer without air conditioning.
And now we’ve added a dog to our hot house.
I guess that makes Snickers the perfect fit.
This is one dog that will never be cool.
Monday, August 16, 2010
It seems like in the entire recorded history of man there’s only been one ark and it belonged to Noah. I’ve never heard of Mel’s Ark or Burt’s Used Arks.
Well, the alarming increase and frequency of weather-related catastrophes convinces me we’re going to need a whole fleet of arks over the next 100 years or so.
For years, those of us who believe the science and anecdotal evidence that says global warming is real have had to contend with the shrill arguments of people who instead believe people like Rush Limbaugh.
These people are beyond your typical Global Warming Skeptics.
In fact, you could call them Global Warming SCOPEtics, people who believe we can continue to use fossil fuels at an alarming rate and everything will still wind up all green and minty fresh.
It’s a startling turn of events for a movement that spies doomsday scenarios in 14th amendment anchor babies, auto industry bailouts and President Obama’s birth certificate.
But present them with front page body counts from Biblical floods in Nashville, Pakistan and Arkansas and they say, “No need to panic. Just as God intended.”
They think nothing of record heat waves sizzling the eastern U.S., and drought and famine in Russia, Asia and Africa.
Their idea of prudent foresight in the face of these facts is to buy stock in the conglomerate that makes Coppertone.
How they explain last week’s news that an iceberg four times the size of Manhattan broke off Arctic Shelf and started drifting south, I do not know. Maybe they’ll say polar bears were eager to visit the Caribbean before bargain hurricane season rates expire.
Of course, they don’t believe Al Gore, and I understand that. I’m a partisan, too. I’d find reason to argue the contrary with Sarah Palin if she told me Levi Johnson, her on-again, off-again prospective son-in-law, is unfit to be Wasilla’s next mayor.
They certainly scoffed Sunday when The New York Times printed a detailed examination linking recent catastrophes to the likelihood that it is caused, at least in part, by global warming.
That’s fair, I scoff when Fox News claims it’s fair and balanced.
We live in divisive times. We have trouble setting aside our petty differences long enough to even decide which of our many pressing issues is urgent enough to deserve the next frustrating stalemate non-solution.
For me, the most poignant evidence of global warming has come from non-partisans who’ve enjoyed God’s eye views of the situation. Astronauts who’ve flown multiple times say that in just 20 years our world’s lost lots of white.
And National Geographic says Ernest Hemingway’s fabled Mt. Kilamanjaro will be without snow by 2022.
But those artistic sorts of arguments are unlikely to convince any “Drill! Baby, drill!” belligerents
Now I have a better one. It’s from Palin’s next door neighbor.
Yes, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev now believes in global warming and thinks drastic measures need to be taken.
“Unfortunately, what is happening in our central regions (heat, drought, famine, wildfires) is evidence of global climate change,” he says. “We have never in our long history faced such weather conditions as these.”
This is significant because the Russians had previously been on record as rooting for dramatic global warming.
Yes, one of the world’s most self-serving nations glimpsed the truly sunny side of to the phenomenon and basked in it. They thought it would thaw Siberia and open up economic opportunity in the always snowy hinterland.
So if leaders like Medvedev are saying the Russian equivalent of “Yikes!” then it is certainly something that should be accepted as fact and dealt with as dire.
If not, then we’re cooked.
Oh, well. There may at least be a slim silver lining to this sizzling apocalypse.
Some crafty entrepreneur is bound to earn a fortune franchising build-it-yourself ark emporiums that’ll give even old Noah a real run for his money.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
I’d been snapping at the kids. I was surly with waitresses. My hair trigger temper meant a trip to the grocery store for milk might end in newsmaking road rage.
Finally my wife had had enough.
“Just what is wrong with you?” she asked.
You know, I said.
“You can’t be serious.”
I couldn’t be more serious. Destruction of the culture is no joking matter. And that’s what we’re about to witness.
Yes, they’re remaking “Arthur.”
That’s the 1981 Dudley Moore movie, a classic. Worse, they’ve cast talentless bore Russell Brand as my drunken hero, Arthur Bach.
He’ll be the role model for me if, cross your fingers, I’m ever bestowed with instant and bottom-less wealth. There’s never been a better example of a happy drunk than Arthur Bach. He left $1,000 tips, was kind to and revered by his staff of flunkies and drivers, and generally laughed through life as though he were being tickled by a giant invisible feather.
I remember the first time I saw the screwball comedy. Behind my laughter, I trembled. I was fearful they were going to ruin Arthur in the end by making him poor and happy or -- worse -- sober and happy. But the producers never flinched. In the end he got all the money, he got the girl and, I suppose, stumbled through the rest of his life without ever drawing a single sober breath.
Many good people will argue that America’s decline began when they took prayer out of the schools.
I argue it began when they stopped putting booze into the American male.
It’s been more than 30 years since even prudent amounts of alcohol were acceptable. Today, even moderate amounts of stress-reducing spirits are deemed irresponsible by the zero tolerance crowed.
Thus, today’s typical male is wound so tight that without release they eventually bust in some spectacular mid-life crisis. Happens with women, too.
Certainly, people drinking too much is a scourge. It causes havoc on the highways, tension in families and a reduction in otherwise productive lives.
But the same could be said for excessive sobriety. Many of the most damaging wars in world history have been instigated by sober crusaders fired with religious passions.
That's a lot of work for a happy drunk.
That's a lot of work for a happy drunk.
Me, I try and be moderate in all things -- and that includes moderation, a philosophy that gives me license to engage in excessiveness whenever it suits me.
Too many people in general and wealthy people in particular trudge through life as if were an exclusively grim endeavor. True, living’s not for sissies.
But if perpetually destitute people like me can find happiness, then certainly wealthy individuals should.
There’s a real poverty of rich, happy drunks like Arthur Bach.
Many of the most successful and wealthy men in the world are grim teetotalers. You never see Bill Gates giddy. Sure, Dick Cheney’s made an illicit fortune, but the only time he seems to get the least bit loaded is when he’s carrying a weapon that’s likewise.
And that brings us to Russell Brand, this generation’s answer to tedious gimmick comic actor Pauly Shore.
Now, instead of the refined and elegant Dudley Moore, our 21st century Arthur will be played by a reformed drug addict without dash or wit. Plus, promotional interviews will feature Brand regaling us with the contrast of his old life and how he’s straightened himself out.
He’ll demonize a lifestyle he exalts in his 2007 autobiography, “My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs & Standup.” The book’s dedication reads, “For my mum, the most important woman in the world to me. Now for God’s sake, don’t read it.”
He’s engaged to marry Katy Perry, whom Maxim (certainly not me) says is the hottest woman in the world. The only way she’d be the hottest woman in my house is if my wife went out shopping.
Still, she’s not without appeal. What she’s doing with Brand is a mystery. Clearly, she should be upholding another grand Hollywood tradition by homewrecking the Branjelina sham "marriage."
So I’ll be in a foul mood until Brand’s “Arthur” is released next year to what I’m sure will be scathing reviews.
It’s a situation sorry enough to drive a man to drink, a temptation to which I won’t for now succumb.
I might over-imbibe. It's happened before. And I wouldn’t want to do anything to damage the reputation of happy drunks.