January 25, 2008
So the other day I saw in one of those free weekly living-decorating-entertainment-ditch digging newspapers that tequila is the liquor of the moment. Really? When did this happen? I don’t hang out with a lot of either heavy drinkers or fashion-conscious people, although if I hung out with fashion-conscious people I’m pretty sure I’d become a heavy drinker.
But I digress. It seems like tequila has been the "liquor of the moment" for at least the last six years. Yes, every once in a while single-malt whiskey (or whisky) will pop up and a few guys in turtleneck sweaters will stand at the bar talking about essence of peat and bitumen, and I can’t turn on the television any more without seeing an artsy commercial for some kind of vodka called Antimony that’s made from gooseberries that only grow in a single square mile of Siberian tundra and are harvested under a full moon, or an even more annoying commercial for some corporate brand of rum that apparently makes the entire planet jump into a conga line whenever a bartender throws it and a couple of limes into a glass. All these commercials tell me, actually, is that men shouldn’t wear miniskirts.
But I digress. Why is tequila suddenly the fashionable thing to drink and, more importantly, shouldn’t we be worried about this? If you want to drink a Margarita with your chips and salsa and a big bowl of menudos that’s one thing, but, just between us, I’ve never known anyone who didn’t turn into a mean drunk under the effects of straight tequila. It’s true that some people are mean drunks no matter what they drink, even non-alcoholic beer. These people should stay away from alcohol entirely, especially since they’re the idiots who insist that they’re okay to drive even after downing two six-packs and a fifth of gin. But there’s something about pure tequila, with or without the added annoyance of having to lick salt from your wrist and squirt a lemon in your mouth because the taste is so bloody awful, that it turns even the sweetest, gentlest souls into raging lunatics. I’m pretty sure if Gandhi ever tried tequila he would have been getting up in the grills of British officers, or maybe random British people, or possibly even just anyone who happened to be around and screaming, "You wanna piece of me? Huh? Do ya?" And he’d be making phone calls at three am and saying, "You know what, Nehru? You better watch your back." And when the person on the other end of line tried to explain that he’d misdialed and called Brussels by mistake, he’d get even angrier and start screaming, "You sayin’ I don’t know how to use a phone? Huh? I don’t know who you are, buddy, but you’re on my list!" In fact I’m pretty sure cultures that have a prohibition against alcohol have that solely because of tequila and that, deep down, they’d probably be okay with beer or wine or whisky or cleaning fluid as long as these things were consumed in moderation. I once tried to decide whether other varieties of alcohol actually had such specific effects–if, for instance, vodka made drinkers depressed existential philosophers, or if whiskey made people great storytellers who were completely unable to dance, or if rum drinkers became convinced they looked good in a thong, but so far evidence is slim. I only know with complete certainty that tequila is bad so I’ll stay away from it. You got a problem with that? Huh? Do ya?