Virtual beer for the soul

“Want a beer?”

This invite from friend Arnold T. has been sitting in the queue of requests on my Facebook account. In fact, I also got a couple of “booze mails” already which I just ignored (sorry to friends who sent them) and failed to send virtual drinks to others as a way to “pay it forward”.

But that invite from Arnold is still there. I just feel amused at the sight of his avatar. He looks like a genius monk (baldheaded and wearing eyeglasses) with the neck of a bottle of Red Horse touching his forehead. That reminds me of my personality back in my college days. I was a person who could not last being a religious person in the midst of a mundane world of Quiapo, where MLQU was located. Love for beer and company of barkada, the very precursors of over-indulgence, were the main factors why I couldn’t even pretend to be like an ascetic. I have to admit that I was heavily influenced by fellas (some of them better off) to get hooked to mundane stuff like being in drink binges. I also have to admit that, in turn, I was an influence to others my junior.

The only consolation I had (for failing to be a faith worker) back then was my being a social activist. I spent two years in college (and then many years in my NGO work since then) being part of the larger community that wanted real better change in society. Guilt of not loving God eloped me from then on.

The love for beer extended to my being part of the country’s labor. Over ten years ago, I made it a habit to frequent a jazz bar in Malate after work, drinking at least four bottles of San Miguel Beer pale pilsen. Sometimes I did it with co-workers, sometimes I did it alone. (I developed love for jazz along with my addiction to drinking.)

I tend to believe that drinking beer with your clique is both a social function and a personal pleasure. It eases tension accrued from work and at the same time reinforces one’s sense of belongingness. But (and this is a big but), when done on a frequent basis and in an excessive manner, the social and personal functions turn into life’s dysfunctions, like work tardiness and health problems.

This is a hard lesson I got from decades of making romance with beer. I guess that my being a father since 1998 has also contributed to my dwindling passion for it. I’ve had to scrimp on my hard-earned money to ensure steady provision for my family. That means that I only drank (or threw drink parties) when there were reasons to celebrate like my kids’ first birthdays and baptismals. And the last of the factors is my health. Predisposed as I am to heart and liver diseases, I have to fight off the temptation to engage in a (heavy) drink now that I’ve already reached 40. (They say life begins at 40.)

Last week, I was able to track KSA-based Larry W., my best pal during my third and fourth years in college, through Friendster. He had been my great influence when it comes to drinking lots of beer like it would run out of supply tomorrow and forever. He asked me over email to see him in December this year and engage in a binge like we did in college. I kiddingly said yes.

OK now. I just ignored Arnold T’s beer invite just because he did it in the spirit of Octoberfest. It’s already November now. But perhaps, when I get another round of virtual booze requests from him and other Facebookers, I’d just oblige. Because, however vicarious, virtual drinks taste like food for the souls of the physically-challenged beer lovers.

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