Being of Two Minds: Dionysian Edition

Molenaer, Jan Miense – Battle Between Carnival and Lent

One of the recompenses of old age – and believe me they are few – is that getting rip-roaring, intestine-unloading, word-slurring, sidewalk-reeling drunk has lost its allure.[1]

Oh, Lawd, my geriatric muse, Erratatata has descended:

Dionysius, boon companion of my youth,

has grown so very long in the tooth

that he looks like Nosferatu,

like, like bad, bad juju.


Nevertheless, even though my days of dancing-on-tables, driving-MGs-down-parking-garage-steps have long passed, I still enjoy checking out Folly Beach’s party scene, to engage tiara sporting brides-to-be and their uniformed entourages in conversation.[2] I also enjoy making small talk with the young men at Chico Feo or Low Life who share adjacent barstools.  I relish shooting the shit, as my father might put it, with many of the bartenders whom I consider more than acquaintances.

But only for an hour or two. Too many Founders Day IPAs makes Wesley a dyspeptic codger.

Nevertheless, I tip my fedora to those old sybarites who never forsake the temporary comforts of strong drink, the Sir Toby Belches and T. Frothingill Bellows of the world, who belly up to the bar and have at it until the day they started to drink becomes the morrow or until their livers eventually give out.[3]

the great WC Fields

Yet, ultimately, forgive the cliché, but home is where the heart is. There’s nothing I’d rather do than sit on the deck with Caroline on a gnat-less late afternoon and look out over the river at the light maturing, going golden, and ultimately dying, then sitting down to dinner with Brooks and rehashing the day’s trivial events, which all and all make up most of our lives.

Now, as some of us used to say in the 60s, that is where it’s at.

[1] Of course, the cliché “with age comes wisdom” is somewhat true. I say “somewhat” because the wisdom of perspective, of the long view, i.e., the road map that experience provides, is merely two-dimensional. For example, I’ve learned in my old age that acute intoxication comes at a cost not worth paying, but that revelation isn’t exactly profound – it’s not as if I’ve embraced the Four Noble Truths and eliminated desire from my mental makeup, not as if I have achieved the serenity that a life of virtue provides. I still occasionally slip up and get drunk, though that’s never my goal.

Anyway, if old age provides wisdom, how come so many of my senescent brethren wear scowls instead of sport beatific smiles? I’ll tell you why, because their joints ache, they’re lonely, the world is going to hell in a handbasket as it has been since time immemorial, i.e., since the discovery of agriculture, Eden’s end.

[2] In which I offer sage advice like “monogamy is the cornerstone of a non-violent marriage” and “if you get caught in undertow, swim parallel to the shore.”

[3] Sir Toby of Twelfth Night and T. Frothingill Bellows, the protagonist of WC Fields’s The Big Broadcast of 1938.

3 thoughts on “Being of Two Minds: Dionysian Edition

  1. I was in an undertow once. At Folly, actually. That rip current is something in need of repair for certain. My cousin told me he thought he was in an undertow. Then, I felt it pulling my legs with a slow but unbelievably powerful force… similar to the vacuum created by Titanic’s mass. At that point all I could do was try my best to skim along the top layer of beach water with my knee board like those shallow water surfers, and check in with my cousin every five of ten seconds.

    He was crying and I could feel his fear bc our eyes had locked together and I was basically seeing what he wanted to say but couldn’t make words for. As the waves got increasingly bigger, I really thought it had him bc they were almost knocking him off his float. He held on like a champ though, and even though it spun him around about 720 degrees… 900 degrees, he wasn’t letting go of that inflatable raft for anything. It pulled him within the length of a football field in about 30 seconds flat.

    What broke my line of site with his was my mom and dad slamming into the waves, and then making a break for the next one. My dad was tall bf he lost his leg … like 6’0, and used to lift weights sometimes, plus he really had a real dad bod (not one of these hipster, walter weight ones) so his torso sheered the waves down low enough that my mom could make it through. Then they gave Danny orders not to abandon the raft while they half used it too… and then they waided it out until it stopped.

    The undertow is sort of the beach’s version what a wormhole would be I guess. Or maybe it’s just a temporary black hole, idk — but they could surgically cut down that part of Folly that juts out into the Atlantic like the snout of a spearfish or a nose of a marlin.

    No offense, now — because you know how I feel about Folly from yours Dorothea Benton Frank’s tales of things like Porgy and Bess. I might just have to pick up a Return To Sullivan’s Isle that she wrote after her success w/ Folly Beach. I just though you might like to hear a tale for a change so I really hope I didn’t step on any landmines or screw the story up with analysis or
    anything. Sorry if any of it were painful to hear since you have mastered all those little landmines the English language is designed around just to find some common ground for colloquial expression. Pretty sure the Royals had something to do do with that. I love hearing those landmine stories, though … like using who instead of that when referring to a person . Like they say, though, there are no atheists in foxholes, so if you want the lingo, you can’t sit idle by. If you’re in it for the penny you’re in it for the pound. Goodnight, Rusty. –

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