Super Bowl can still be a kick without drink

Ahh the Superbowl, it’s become so much more than the pinnacle game of NFL football. Now it’s also the half-time show, the commercials, the parties, the snacks, the drinks. What struck me while watching the Superbowl this year was that I was definitely in the minority without an alcoholic drink in my hand.

Ever notice the way alcohol is part of all of society’s celebrations and consolations? It reminds of Charles Dickens’s opening line of Tale of Two Cities. Need a refresher?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

Each statement can be ended with “with alcohol.”

Alcohol is definitely associated with our best times. Christening a new boat? Having a baby? Getting Married? Celebrating New Year’s Eve? Received a promotion? Paid off the mortgage? Did your Superbowl team win? Grab the champagne.

(It’s interesting to note that for everyone celebrating in the room with a glass raised, there is usually someone in the room affected adversely by the joyous occasion, but still with a bottle at the ready — just ask 49ers fans.)

How about a fancy dinner? It probably involves cocktails first, wine with dinner, then followed by a fine scotch chaser. For the not so fancy backyard barbecues we have coolers of beer, and coolers of coolers or fruity white wines, not to mention icy gin or vodka tonics with lime.

When you want to connect with someone you haven’t seen in a while or want to get to know someone new, you say: “Let’s meet for a drink.”

Looking to pre-drink for a night out? Tequila might be on the menu. Even at the word tequila I think of a lot of foolishness committed at alcohol’s behest, where wisdom was notably absent.

Alcohol is also there for our seasons of darkness and our winters of despair to drown our sorrows. Any alcohol will do, in sufficient quantity. The problem is that drinking doesn’t bring light, nor heaven, nor fix the despair, and it can lead to having nothing before us (except a garbage can).

Socially we have associated alcohol as a necessity for life’s highs and lows, in all our wisdom and foolishness. We even call ourselves “social drinkers” when we don’t think we have a problem with alcohol. The term for abstainers is not so cool sounding: teetotaler.

It is hard to get away from alcohol, even when you choose to … and there are a lot of excellent reasons to get away from it. A depressant is never recommended for the depressed, and why is a depressant recommendable for a celebration? To bring down the room?

Back to the Superbowl, where the half-time show made me smile. Two amazing, strong women, who happen to live their lives alcohol-free, rocked the stadium. Yes, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira both abstain from alcohol. So, in my winter of despair, as I have stretched my mostly dry January into mostly dry February, I count myself among excellent company.

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