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.

Before
After

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.