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A Prison of Brown Bottles
February 7, 2002
by grl2watch

I am not a prude, and believe that everyone has the right to determine how to conduct their lives. I want people to be well and free, to see that a blue sky and a bright sun are always overhead. I am not wise enough to have the mold which fits everyone to perfection.

But for the record, I hate beer. This is a personal vendetta, born of personal insult, which I can no longer contain.

My best friend is an alcoholic. His personal weapon of choice is beer, with an occasional Jack Daniels for variety. For years, I have witnessed the power of this weapon, and tried to pry it from his hand by every device imaginable. In the end, I stand in front of a person who, professing love for me, rejects my touch for that of dead glass.

Yes, this is personal. Each time I see one of these bottles, I receive a blow to the head, an insult. The scent from one of these cold decanters is the essence, the defining, offensive scent of defeat.

I know that I am not unique, so in the way common to our kind, I stand back, take in the big picture, and create the universal from my particular.

I am looking at the big picture for Washington, DC in 2002.

Death is cheap in our nation. People complain about the cost of cigarettes and beer, which are rising, but have yet to reach the cost of a well wrapped cigar or a vintage with good bouquet. The expensive vices are a sign of the better things in life, and are displayed with pride. The cheap brews come in a brown paper shroud, and are hidden even as they are consumed.

Death is also readily available. It is a glaring and terrible thing to see a neighborhood with no grocery stores, but abounding in liquor stores, with one on each block, and directly facing its twin across the street. The paths connecting these quadrants are littered with bottle shrouds, cigarette stubs, and lottery tickets. People created in the image of God walk these paths daily.

Those who retain some freedom walk. There are others who have lost that emblem of freedom, who sit or stand where they may. With loss of freedom comes loss of strength, and these need some support to lean upon, whether a pole or each other. Those who have lost all freedom are prone.

This is the city. In the suburbs, where I live, there is more semblance of freshness and useful activity. To accommodate this, the liquor stores have, in our enviable American ingenuity, come up with drive-through liquor venues. A list of everything a customer might desire is posted next to a bullet proof glass, where a warden-clerk sits. In this perversion of the fast food paradigm, you pay your money, take your liquor, and drive home.

The suburbs have other amenities. I regularly go to a gym. There are people here of every age and physical condition, save one - men above the age of forty. These are no where to be found. They are also absent from the pool, from the church, from the library, from view. I ask myself why, but I know the answer: they are all at home, beginning the first bottle, or proceeding to the next. I have sure evidence of what I say. In our recycle boxes, every fourth house has piles of bottles accumulated from the recent week.

This age of forty is the age of unreason. A person can wield their chosen weapon for years, but at a point, there is a breakdown, a point where the arguments for health, full functioning, full vitality no longer register with the listener. They have integrated their weapon to the point that it is part of life, maybe 30 percent, or 60, or 100. Yes, 100. I know a man who lapsed into a coma while clutching his weapon, and died dreaming of Valhalla.

Well, you say, why this tirade in a forum for political opinions?

My president falls off a couch after choking on a pretzel. Um huh.

There are related issues. The Democratic Party is working to increase voter registration. From which ranks will they recruit? From whence will the participants in our democracy arise? It is well known that those in prisons do not vote. May I suggest that those within their prison of brown bottles also do not exercise the franchise.

The marking of territory by the liquor industry has been noted, and fought. The billboards are removed, the ads to children are condemned, and the public is alerted. But has the fight been waged with kid gloves? Has the true reason for the copious, ubiquitous flood of alcohol really been revealed?

Many of those who rule claim the Bible as their guide. I quote from this guide to end my tirade.

Prov 31:6-7
Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.

 
The author is a writer by choice, and a human being by grace.

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