I was walking over to Pat's liquor store to purchase my writing supplies for the night when I came across two young guys sitting on the curb.
“Excuse me sir,” said one. “If we give you money, will you buy us a 12-pack of MGD? We'll pay you a dollar.” My first thought was, wow, a whole dollar-then I'll only need 4,999 more to retain a lawyer for the Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor charge. My second thought was to curl my fingers around his larynx and holler into his ear, “Don't ever call me ‘sir' you little puke.” My third thought was, I am a bartender—I have a duty to not furnish minors with alcohol. But then I got to thinking about my minor delinquency days—loitering with my teenage pals outside the Monroe, New York Shop-Rite; asking strangers to buy us beer; exposing ourselves to a smorgasbord of reactions ranging from: “Go away kid, you bother me” to truly remarkable emotional tirades about declining social mores to eventually, finally, gratefully, joyously reaching that one upstanding citizen who would say, “Yes, young man, I will buy beer for you.” Then we'd take our twelver of Miller High Life, hurry down to Round Lake, sit at water's edge, snap open the bruisers—and drink, think, yak and crack wise until the toxins droned in our heads-like somebody or something was etching crop circles on our brains. Then we'd strip off our shorts, dive into the lake and go drunken skinny dipping on the dock; splashing and laughing and howling until our stamina petered out and we collapsed on the raft on our backs and laid there silently, sipping the last of the beer and gazing dreamily at the stars or the moon or the charcoal clouds that obscured them.
And I got to thinking: “Hey Ed! Have you forgotten all about drunken skinny-dipping? And drunken street hockey? Remember slosh ball and beergammon? Drink-pong and mescaline ice basketball? Who am I to deny these boys their constitutional rights-as stated in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence: “That all Men... are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happily skinny dipping drunkenly on the dock.”
And I got to thinking, “These two guys are clearly over 18, probably closer to 20. It's preposterous that these legal-in every other sense-adults are reduced to begging strangers to buy them beer. How un-American. News flash: Tyranny-bad. Beer-good.
And I got to thinking about all these alarmist studies that present statistics about how, “One in every four high-schoolers is drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana,” which is followed always by some Bill O'Reilly Hannity Schlessinger amalgam, ranting about how these crumbling social mores are inevitably leading to the fall of civilization. Well call in the freaking National Guard. Parents forget about their own degenerate youth, forget that kids have been dancing dirty and boozing and groping and drugging and screwing since the dawn of man, because that's what kids do-they seek experience. Yet parents rally for abstinence. Abstinence? What sort of oinker-fecum is that? “Son, um, I want you to just ignore those booze billboards, and T.V. commercials, and the movie starlets with their swaying swollen breasts, and their er... ggggrumph ggguuurrrgle... pliant, tofu thighs. Just say ‘no' son-it's for adults.”
And I got to thinking, how rich my 16th year was-thanks in part to that first warm six-pack of High Life I drank with my best friend Tony; thanks, in part, to Betty-my 20-year-old sex-mentor who-with tenderness, understanding and only a bit of chuckling-showed me where her vagina was located when I couldn't find it on my own; thanks, in part, to Dave for handing me that first joint, which I puffed and puffed and couldn't get high and then he rolled another and said, “Smoke it all,” and I puffed and puffed and... and the wind, it whispered, ‘Mary.' So I said to the kids, “You know what guys, I will buy you beer. Because beer is good. But I have one condition. I choose the beer. Then I went inside and returned with a 12-pack of Miller High Life. “Remember, boys,” I said, handing them the carton, Coors Light is for pukes. Tonight you live the High Life.” Then I walked away smiling. It was all quite a rush because I was doing something bad; something the adults would frown upon-and it felt like I was on the dock again, naked, soaking... and alive.
And I got to thinking—Fuck adults. Adulthood is for those who can't hack youth. So rock on, drunken skinny-dippers, may you dip-skinny and drunkenly for years to come.