Monday, December 22, 2008

Snocial Science

As Wahz and I slipped down the snowy sidewalk at Forest Hills, grumbling and fretting our way through the snow storm, Wahz turned to me and said, "You know 20 years ago, we wouldn't have thought twice about walking out to JP in this, because it was so pretty out."

I agreed, but pointed out that we would probably have had a couple of bracing cocktails in us before we left his place and that by the time brunch was over everyone would have been 3 sheets to the wind.

We were on our way to our friend C's house for a Solstice brunch. C. doesn't really do Christmas anymore, but it's nice to do something for the season, so he usually has a couple of people over between the first day of winter and New Years. This year it was a combination of winter solstice and "Hogswatch" a mythical holiday from a book by Terry Pratchett that we all love, which is a send up of Christmas, among other things.

Dinner was lovely. C. had opted to order in Chinese, which he filled out with a few special touches of his own and the table was a thing of beauty. This is no surprise, since C. is a retired scenic designer. However, C.'s mad culinary genius was not to be entirely silenced. Dessert was a white fruitcake that he made, which was served warm with a zabaglione to go over it.

We had a delightful time and left sober as judges. Which later really struck me, since in the old days we used to refer to the holidays as "Drunkmas".

For my part, I have developed gastric problems which keeps me from drinking much. This is quite a change from my youth, when I never met a cocktail I didn't like. I can't say I'm terribly sorry. Starting off my day with a clear head the morning after, really is it's own reward. However, I can't regret the happy alcoholic fog I wandered around in during the holidays when I was young. I will never be able to look back with anything but fondness on Christmas Day spent at our late friend Steven's house, which started off with a glass of champagne in your hand at noon as soon as you walked through the door and ended 4 hours later staggering home after port, Stilton and walnuts. Steven was an old New England Yankee and a great believer in traditions. One of these traditions was that if he invited friends to Christmas dinner, they were going to walk out of the house with at least one bottle of good champagne under their belt by the time they left.

These days I have Christmas with Wahz at his house with a few other old friends. Conversation will turn to Christmas with Steven and that in turn will bring back memories of epic parties of the past. Who was it that always passed out in a hallway and would be stepped over for the rest of the evening once the party got into full swing? Who got caught doing the host's boyfriend in the guest bathroom? Famous party misdeeds that live on in legend. It was fun at the time and it is still fun to remember, because it happened in a far away land called our youth.

I read Susan Cheever's piece which she wrote for the Times about epic drunken holiday parties from years ago and the fact that a lot less booze seems to get consumed at parties now and no one smokes. This was unheard of in my youth and so it would seem in Ms. Cheever's as well. I thought it was a good piece of writing and really enjoyed it. However the comments that were left were a bit discouraging. The majority of them seemed to be in terms of scolding. I can only assume from the tone of the comments that the individuals writing them spent their youths doing good works and attending temperance meetings. Speaking for myself, I have to say I was as badly behaved as most people are in their 20's and early 30's. I can't say I regret a minute of it either.

One gets the impression from the current trend of thought that the new nanny society is ending youthful indiscretion, but I am fairly certain that young people out there are even now, getting hammered, waking up with blinding hangovers and in general living life to its fullest. This is as it should be and I suppose that equally, whenever people of a certain disposition get past a certain age, they are bound to disapprove of anything that looks like young people might be enjoying themselves. In turn today's young people will go out and behave excessively and with any luck, will live to tell the tale when moderation or outright abstinence becomes their lot in life. No doubt, some of them are merely drinking and smoking their way into their roles as the scolds of tomorrow.

As for myself, I'm glad I misbehaved when I was still young enough to do it and that eventually I grew up and changed my ways instead of turning into a sloppy old drunk. I am also thankful that I still have a few friends who survived from those days so that we can reminisce about those times from the safety and comfort of our relative old age.

As for the young folks that are drinking and smoking and carrying on, good for you.

For all the vinegar faced old shrews who are going on about the evils of drink among other things, I can only say I'm sorry you never had any fun when you were young, but stop trying to take it out on the rest of us.