All evidence to the contrary, I don’t drink much. But I am not a teetotaler. That’s an interesting word. Originally, it referred to the 19th century movement of people who followed teetotalism—an explicit abstinence from all alcohol. It started at the same time and was more or less the same thing as the Washingtonian movement. There is a tendency now to think that as a nation we drink a great deal. This is not true, and I think this misinformation comes from groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and MADD who constantly want to define down what it means to be drunk or a drunk.
The truth is that people used to drink a lot more than we do now. I see this all the time while researching my daily birthday posts, where I find a lot of people of the past dying from liver damage due to alcohol consumption. And in the 19th century, it was especially bad. And here I’m not just talking about the drinkers themselves. Alcohol use then as now was associated with violence—especially domestic violence.
Today, people are far more responsible about their drinking. This is not surprising. Drug taking is a social activity. The biggest harms that occur with drugs are when new drugs are introduced into a culture where it had no history and thus no set norms. Despite all the mythology of the “disease of addiction,” people generally learn their drug taking habits from their environment. Although I have seen only too well the damage that alcohol can do to people and families, I think modest drinking is unquestionably a good thing. And wine and beer go well with most foods.
I try to have a drink every night. It is usually wine or beer, but I am not against the occasional mixed drink. In fact, I made up a drink called The Archie Leach, which is interesting as you will see later in today’s birthday post. But sometimes I have a problem. I want to have a drink, but I am tired and still have work to do. And thus, I created The Tea Totaler:
I can’t say that it’s great, but it is pleasant enough. I can tell you this: tea and brandy do not mix! And it gives you that extra energy to get your work done. Or to write unfortunate things on Twitter. It’s really up to you.
Do be careful with this. The combination of alcohol and caffeine tends to make one feel as though one has had less alcohol than one has. Trust me: this is one drink, regardless of how it makes you feel. You may be thinking faster, but you aren’t thinking better.