The liberal arts college, as a bastion of uncensored thought and engaged discourse, is often portrayed as the purveyor of social hope and liberation, as a Socratic gadfly to a lethargic and provincial populace. It remains, however, in act if not in name, a stalwart participant in one of this country’s greatest misconceptions, namely, in its attitude toward alcohol.
It is not primarily the Administration I wish to antagonize; indeed, I have had several refreshing exchanges with sympathetic and reasonable officers of the law. My gripe is primarily with the students, certainly not a large percentage, but enough to push me toward the following rejoinder to their implicit criticism.
You may see me walking around campus with a bottle of beer. You may see Alex (Okrent ’05) and I in Weshop, on the steps of Olin, on the hill, in PAC lab, or anywhere else between Lawn and Washington with a bottle of beer. If you’re like most people we’ve encountered, you will either look askance at my half-drained and unabashedly carried brew or condescendingly remark that it’s “a little early to start drinking, isn’t it?”. At this point I will shake my weary head in dismay, knowing that I’m having a drink; I’m not getting drunk.
I will not spout platitudes here concerning the inane and deleterious conceptions of alcohol consumption which this country holds. I will only point to an alternative conceptual scheme, one which a large part of world presupposes in its daily intercourse, one which integrates alcohol into its cultural identity rather than futilely attempt its isolation and obliteration.
I partake of this alternative conceptual scheme. I enjoy wine with dinner and I try beers from around the world. Moreover, I do so regardless of the time of day or the day of the week. Unfortunately, as one’s college career accrues weekly Dionysian binges of cheap beer, voracious consumption, and severe inebriation, such an appreciation becomes progressively more difficult to comprehend.
I hesitated to publicly articulate my position at this particular time. The senior thesis deadline has recently passed, and I have certainly indulged in the last week. Such celebration notwithstanding, however, my philosophy remains the same: alcohol is not a crutch, a vice, or a taboo; rather, it offers an aesthetic enrichment of one’s everyday intercourse with the world. So, the next time you see me sitting on the steps of Olin sipping a fine ale, please don’t regard me in disgust; ask for a sip, and I will be more than happy to oblige.