Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy.”
Frank Sinatra quotes (American Actor and Singer, 1915-1998)
At one point of time we all bid good bye to the wild bachelor days and embraced marriage. Matrimony has its share of very good things and not so good things. Some time after the honeymoon, the wife realises that her dear husband drinks. Some wives accept the reality and all is well for the dear husband. Some do not and that is where the trouble starts. Initially it comes as a surprise to her and soon develops into a rude shock. If the wife were to come from a non drinking family the shock is even greater. After many failed efforts on her part and broken promises on his part, she decides to exercise her powers of veto bestowed upon her by none other than Mr Manu (of 'Manava Dharma-Shastra’) himself. She says enough is enough and declares ‘Dry Days’ throughout the year. This is the biggest blow to the married man as he imagines the whole world collapsing in front of him, friends deserting, feeling of becoming a social taboo, a butt of all jokes and the rest. As time progresses he looses all confidence and in no time he is half his original self. Wives of lesser calibre impose a conditionality and an upper limit such as - ‘once a week’, ‘only on weekends’, ‘ not more than two’, ‘only with guests’, ‘not after 9 PM’and the list is endless
Just when the married man is about to accept his fate, the ‘Artful Dodger’ with his skill and cunning appears on the scene. He is a master who has successfully weathered the storm of dry days and come out totally wet. He has the distinction of converting drinking into fine art. He is full of practical advice and narrates a series of incidents of innovative methods of drinking. He tells the anxious married man to rest all his worries and listen to what he has to say.
The ‘Artful Dodger’ recalls –
As soon as the sun set, this officer from Kochi used to stand in his second floor balcony and invite any one passing by, to join him for a drink. Having overcome the condition imposed by his newly married wife - ‘only with guests’ with grace he would proceed to enjoy his drink. Just when you thought all the troubles of ‘Officer from Kochi’ were over the second condition would pop up - ‘not more than one’. The crafty OFK would pour neat whisky into one entire glass and nurse it the entire evening.
What about the gentleman who used to dodge ‘not more than two’ with utmost elegance. As soon as the drinks were served he would take a sip or two and leave the half filled glass on the table ensuring it was in full view of his wife and proceed inside to the bar to talk to the host. While talking, he would pour himself another drink in a separate glass named herein after as the ‘working glass as against the ‘show glass’ next to his wife. The show glass would be filled only twice the entire evening and the poor working glass would do over time like any other working class.
Once we went to a newly married friend’s house in the evening to be greeted with Aqua. Some minutes later the conversation practically died and there was no life left in any one. All were told to move to the table to start the dinner. The evening was full of surprises, first the aqua and then the disgusting looking dark coloured glasses and jug on the table. The friend took great pains in serving what we thought was water. The first sip revealed it was good old XXX pre mixed with water. To the utter disbelief and astonishment of the wife in question the conversation suddenly revived and the party reverberated on the table.
Charlie married late and he found shaking off his bachelor habits extremely difficult, they were sticking to him like barnacles. In the old days the navy observed what is known as ‘Make and Mend’ a tradition from the sail days when the sailors were given off on Wednesday afternoon to make and mend their clothes, sails etc. Over a period of time the MAM was utilised to meet other officers and interact. It provided an excellent platform to exchange ideas and sort out problems. To ensure, the interaction flowed freely, the MAM was accompanied with a glass of beer. At times, people got totally engrossed in their conversation and the beering continued late into the afternoon. Charlie thought it wise not to disclose this noble naval tradition to his young wife. He would go home late to be greeted by his wife who thought he had come early. This deception was indeed a double whammy.
Another hilarious incident took place in Mumbai when the husband entered the house with his friend quite late in the afternoon after a very satisfying MAM. Knowing that the end was near his appearance slowly started to resemble a jelly fish with no jelly inside. The wife having, no time measuring device in the house had dozed off only to wake up when the door bell rang. Thinking it was early afternoon the LOH offered the two some more beer. Who said life is not fair.
The other day I met my friend Dharwadkar who was very reluctant to strike any conversation which I found was totally against his grain. On enquiry I found that he was proceeding home to Smirnoff a glass or two – a perilous act on a weekday afternoon. Probing a little further as to how he mustered the required amount of courage to indulge in such an act, he astonished me by saying that it was safe. He found safety in numbers in the form of relatives who had arrived in his wife’s absence. His assumption was that he would not be subjected to breath analyser test in front of the guests. He is still alive and kicking.
Kumar and his brother with their respective wives were treated to dinner at the Tiffany by their parents. Kumar ordered a beer and his brother a whisky with ice and soda. The party went on very well and all enjoyed the evening very much. On returning home poor Kumar had to go through the third degree – the newly married wife said “you need to learn a lot from your elder brother – he not only took small drinks but diluted it with ice and soda and look at you - drinking the whole bottle by yourself”. This is sheer bad luck but what to do – we are like that only.
This blog is not to belittle the fair sex but to look at life through a wine glass. Cheers!!!