I recall seeing a headline somewhere about Florida expanding the Stand-Your-Ground Law (translation: Shoot-anyone-you-want law). This got me thinking about Florida. This is a state in which one is arrested for drinking a can of beer in public, but where one can shoot someone with impunity. The gun lobby is more powerful than the alcoholic beverage lobby. After all, both “weapons of human destruction” are regulated by the same federal agency: ATF.
Given the choice, I would rather be confronted by a man, even an angry one, with a beer can than one with a firearm. In either case, there is little chance of a reasonable discussion, but one can run from beer or, even, dry off, if one is thrown in one’s face. In the other instance, one’s only hope is facing a bad shot.
Beach vacations demand the consumption of a certain amount of alcohol. This is best achieved with cocktails, the kind one rarely bothers to make at home. Wine is too expensive in this country at hotels: tax revenue is important for the country (not to mention hotel profit) and religion hopes that exorbitant prices will damper consumption. Beer is a suitable alternative.
Sitting on the deck in front of the bar, I overheard an interesting conversation that a young man had with the waiter...or rather a request he made. He was sitting with another young man and they had order drinks. He asked the waiter not to register the sale to his room (all orders are booked to a room) and that he would pay in cash. He explained that he did not want his mother to know that he was drinking alcohol. The next day I learned the reason for this request: he is young prince from a Middle Eastern country. His companion was his bodyguard. Mama was surely ensconced in the villa out of sight of male eyes, where she cannot kept her eye on the prince.
Not being a prince or a muslim, I never had that problem...
For the past few days, there have been articles about James Bond. They have not been about a new film or some author trying to replicate Ian Fleming’s novels. No, they have been touting serious studies of this fictional characters drinking habit. According to the report, he was an alcoholic. Who cares? What does it matter?
HE WAS A FICTIONAL CHARACTER!
I do not know how anyone can waste their time on thinking about this, writing about this, or reading about this. I wasted time simply glancing at the stupid headlines.
A headline in the Guardian caught my attention, as the occasional headline is wont to do.
Thirty years ago, a distillery died. Now its scotch sells for £1,500 a bottle
The Scottish industry is booming as whisky becomes the drink of aspiration for the world's middle classes
This is another example of stupid people believing that something is special...which rarely is. This is true of whisky, wine, cars, watches, etc.: anything that has developed a cachet to jack up the price. Rarity is rare; hype is common.
I have sampled many of the most-famous/expensive wines and tried many different whiskys (Scotch, Irish, Japanese), both single malt and blends. Many taste the same (to my uneducated taste buds), and many have a distinctive flavor, especially those with a hint of peat. In the end, all are a beverage with alcohol, something rather cheap and easy to produce. (I am reminded of a song: “Get you copper kettle and get you a copper coil. Fill it with new made corn mash and never more you’ll toil.” Which, of course, is about making moonshine, but makes the point about the ease.)
I lost all respect for alcohol beverage cachet during my sojourn in Vietnam. All drinks cost 10 cents at the officers’ club. Once the inflated mark-up and taxes are removed, distilled drinks cost no more than soft drinks. There is no magic, except in the eye of the beholder. Or his or her taste buds.
Case in point is my choice of gin. I like Gordons, a brand not at the top of any survey. Often, I notice the bartender’s difficulty in hiding his disdain: he surely thinks I want the cheapest brand. I prefer the taste to that of the expensive brands, all of which I have sampled. I don’t care what people think of my preferences.
NB. One thing baffles me about the above headline: who in what “middle class” can afford or would pay so much for whisky?
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.