The New Puritans

“Do not drink water”, the sign said.
This announcement was over the sink in the restroom of an Ontario provincial park. I always have my trusty pen handy and I couldn’t resist.
“Only alcohol”, I penned in underneath it.

As I’ve gotten older I don’t drink anymore.
Or any less.
But… I seem to be a minority in my lush-full ways. And like most of my viewpoints I ask myself why others cannot see the light. My wife and I ran into a couple the other day at the funeral of a dear old friend in Lindsay, a wonderful man who died before his time. We were delighted to see this particular pair as they had been excellent neighbours for a number of years and like many of our aging cohort of friends we now encounter each other most often at funerals. As Linda gave me a hug she very kindly remarked, “I don’t know what pills you two are taking but you look younger all the time.”
So, dear readers, I’ll let you in on my dirty little secret.

One of my hockey teams still sneaks beer into the dressing room, but it seems as if barely half of us drink the contraband grog anymore. I always make sure to have my libation directly under the sign that reads, ANY CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED ON THESE PREMISES. We now have to pack bottled water, San Pellegrino lemon drink and V-8 juice into the cooler. Where, by gum, have the old days gone ?

Listen up- I have a theory about this. I know plenty of you have told me where I can put my theories. But here’s the thing; we have entered a New Age of Puritanism. Not the religious, fundamental Christian kind when Pentecostal and Baptist brethren held up signs saying ‘John 3:16’. There’s no doubting the fact that we are supposed to be a kinder, gentler society where kids no longer get in fights in the smoking area. In fact, there are no more smoking areas. At least not for tobacco anyway. But we all seem to be a little too tightly wound.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t listen to C.B.C. radio longer than ten minutes without an acute desire to slit my wrists. Gone are the days of Vicki Gabereau, Ralph Benmergui and Peter Gzowski where a bit of humour was a part of every show. Now it seems as if the Mother Corp’s airwaves can only broadcast sob stories that get progressively more gut-wrenching every day.

It used to be the fundamentalist zealots holding up signs on the street proclaiming that the end is near. Now it’s posts on Facebook and Twitter that when they are not self-righteously shaming someone, then they’re predicting that climate change will end it all, but only if the Trump Administration doesn’t do us all in before that.

Can we all do a few deep-breathing exercises here, people ? And then maybe have a scotch followed by a beer-chaser? Or some red wine if that’s more to your liking. We don’t have to forego with all the pleasures in life and go on some wild goose chase hoping to change everyone and everything in the world. Because the stress of all our sanctimonious finger-pointing is going to kill us long before the end of the world arrives.
And maybe we can start listening to each other again.

Thanks. I feel better now. I’ll have to sign off here and pour myself a scotch. It’s past noon somewhere in the world.

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