When life starts to beat you down, the day-to-day grind makes you resemble crushed peppercorns, and you reach the very end of your rope, the word “vacation” starts to sound extremely enticing. That should be the easy part — deciding to take a vacay — but the logistics usually take precedence. When flight itineraries, hotel stays, entertainment costs, and lack of public transportation start to rear their ugly head, a glorious option pops up.
People might decide to stay in their home city instead of spending googobs of money on expensive flights, cruises, train rides, or pony expresses. This “city retreat” might include a visit to a museum, dinner by candlelight, and a walk on the river with one’s sweetie. Other staycations might be held inside the home, with a book, a DVD, or a pillow.
But are those the only options available? All of us need our rest — and home is where the heart is — but can’t we rest when we’re dead? The fact is, YOLO should be the aim; we don’t have nine lives like our feline friends.
Why not take a “city retreat” and make up your own pub crawl: one place for happy hour, another for aperitifs — maybe a dinner break — then another place for digestifs or dessert + drinks. Embrace the warm weather and try out a couple new drinking places’ summer menus. Take a rooftop lounge tour, a grungy basement tour, an alfresco/riverfront tour — the possibilities are endless. Well, that is until last call. Regardless, take advantage of your city whenever you can. You might not get an umbrella in your drink, but you might grow fonder of the place you call home.
Back in November, I didn’t know I’d have to post a eulogy. One week after a cautionary post about a wayward athlete, here’s another one about a celebrity on the wrong side of the bottle. This is not the type of deja vu that I appreciate.
I’m not going to tear up the internets by mentioning Whitney Houston’s passing; they’ve been torn to shreds in a similar fashion to when Michael Jackson almost flattened the WWW. But this is not a post about technology — this is a post about making better decisions when you drink, the crux of what The Congenial Hour is all about.
When everyone heard of Whitney’s passing, we all thought of her past drug abuse and somehow thought she had a relapse that was too much for her to withstand. However, the apparent cause was something that we’ve seen before, and will probably see again: the one cocktail that always brings about last call, alcohol and prescription medicine. It has taken celebrities from the worlds of music, film, hockey, and professional wrestling. The worst thing about it is that we have not seen the last of this type of tragically regrettable occurrence.
Two things about alcoholic beverages always need to be considered. One, the irony of the term “alcoholic beverage” is in its name: it should NOT be considered a beverage. When I think of a beverage, I think of a tall glass of milk after eating an arm’s length of Oreos, a “cold drink” of Coca-Cola or sweet tea when I visit friends and family down south, or a Gatorade Propel while I’m working out. Those are beverages — drinks intended to quench your thirst. While I’ve got some lovely items in my cocktail cabinet that are quite tasty, I don’t have a “thirst” for them. I do itch for a good Old Fashioned from time to time, but I’m not running into the house for some 7yr W.L. Weller after running around Lake Montebello — I want something from the Brita!!
The second thing is we need to start making better decisions about drinking. Alcohol abuse is not new on the radar but it’s causing some of the same pains that it has for centuries now. Binge drinking without water or food, drinking copious amounts of liquor without a care, really has to stop. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying spirits and wonderfully-crafted cocktails in a night out with friends. Nothing wrong with pairing champagne cocktails with a culinary delight. But when you’re grabbing beer and champagne to wash down your burger and fries, you might want to take a step back. Slow down and realize that everything has a time and place. Certain cocktails are for a certain time. Certain spirits go better at specific times — there’s a reason there’s an aperitif as opposed to a digestif. You don’t need them all, all the time. Take a minute and get Mother Nature’s favorite beverage in your system; it just might save your life.
Rest in power, Whitney.