Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Thursday, May 23

Gapers Block

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Editor's note: Revenge of the Second City is on a brief hiatus, returning shortly. In the meantime, here is a favorite column from the archives.

Have a scotch with me, and it'll really, really look like I'm not enjoying myself, but I am. Believe me, these are busy, hectic times at RotSC Headquarters, after a big move, a bigger responsibility at work, and various other projects filling the time.

So a scotch, or a gin and tonic, are very welcome diversions. So come drink with me—first round on me, second on you -- but I have some ground rules about going out drinking in Chicago that you may want to take note of.

First -- and really, this is the one that matters most -- don't be cheap. Going out for a drink with friends is not about getting drunk, it's about drinking together. So don't tell me it's an absolute necessity to go to some dingy, overcrowded faux dive bar because the beers are a buck-fifty cheaper. drink less, talk more. It isn't, as they say, what goes into the mouth, but rather what comes out. Are you defined by what you drink or what you say? Pity those for whom the former applies.

To quote Proverbs 15, "Better [is] a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith." The implication is not what you think: forget the drink, focus on the conversation. So better to drink slow, and well, than consume volumes and forget why you came.

Let's go to a place that's comfortable and quiet, or at least reasonably so. A place that is diverse in age groups, economic class, and style of dress. Especially style of dress. Somewhere where nobody looks at you except to smile, and you probably don't know anybody there -- but if you do, it'll be all the more surprising, and thus pleasant.

Second, shut up about everybody else. Sure, the occasional loudmouth Cubs fan or the guy in the shimmery red Polish Eagle shirt with the sequins will deserve a comment or two. But otherwise, let's leave everybody else alone and tend to our own business. You and I, we're both interesting people -- interesting enough to dwell in our own flesh and not preoccupy ourselves with the concerns of others.

Third, let's dance. The most ancient form of celebration. Let's dance because, if the music is loud enough and we're both loving it, we respect what the eternal combination of alcohol and music was meant for: mindless but rhythmic movement with no inhibition and no thought to staring eyes. We don't need to go crazy -- we're not putting on a show -- just a little heel-toe-heel-toe and maybe a spin.

Alcohol is a great gift from nature to humanity. I have a very basic respect for it, and you'll see that when we toast to our third round on a crisp, purple autumn night. You'll note that although I'm clearly drunk, I don't drink any faster. Let's enjoy it like we've done it before. Not like animals.

Bludgeoning your liver overwhelmingly, like a brute, leads to slurred language, embarrassing malaprops and the inevitable white person hoot. "Whooo!" But slowly blending that fine Maker's Mark or Glenfiddich -- just a dollar more -- with your blood serves only to warm you up and loosen your tongue, makes conversation and playful flirtation flow more freely.

There is no badge of honor in drinking excessive amounts of disgusting booze as quickly as possible in a social setting. Better to drink less, but better -- and, of course, pool your resources.

A couple shots later, two gin and tonics, and a shallow scotch before you left the house, and you're laughing freely, standing up to spin the pretty lady behind the bar, but you can still sit down and debate, if you'd like, before returning to the jukebox to request another song. Alcohol is, really, a muse meant to lull inhibition to sleep and allow some candid joy to sneak past. Taken in excess or for its own sake, it is simply a blunt instrument, a drug, and although that has its occasional merits, it's hardly something to be done regularly. That's over-indulgence. Moderation is the mark of adulthood.

So, how about that gin and tonic? And let's go somewhere quiet -- but not too quiet -- with James Brown or Barry Manilow -- or R. Kelly -- on the jukebox.

But opening day at Soldier Field, we're grilling and I'm getting sauced.

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About the Author(s)

Ramsin Canon covers and works in politics in Chicago. If you have a tip, a borderline illegal leak, or a story that needs to be told, contact him at .

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