Withering Glance: The teetotaler and the likker liker

  • Article by: RICK NELSON and CLAUDE PECK , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 8, 2012 - 1:42 PM

Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

 

RN: Huh. All of the bartenders here appear to know you by name. No judgment, just an observation.

CP: Shh. Here comes Bill with your Shirley Temple. Sip it slowly.

RN: Grenadine and maraschino cherries? Thanks, but no thanks. Besides, it's not as if I've never come in contact with hooch. I was in a fraternity, after all.

CP: Yeah, but that hardly counts: The beer bong hadn't even been invented when you were an undergrad brother of Alpha Tau Omega. And nowadays I think you drink about as much as Mitt Romney. What happened? Excuse me, barkeep, can I get one more?

RN: To shorthand it, a milestone birthday yielded an epic, behavior-changing hangover, and then a friend went into treatment, inspiring me to fly the temperance flag in solidarity. But like the vegetarian who occasionally sneaks a Chicken Chalupa Supreme at the Taco Bell drive-thru, I eventually began to sip my way back into Mojitoland.

CP: Must you mention binge drinking and a chalupa in the same breath? I'm trying to get my drink on here. Though you imbibe like a Muslim, you never seem to glare at me when I'm hitting the sauce. Thanks for that.

RN: What are friends for? And no, I'm not living vicariously. For starters, I don't know that my liver could handle it.

CP: Oh, please. You have not given your liver a sturdy challenge since the year of our Lord 1985. But you'll not find me urging you to strong drink, even if, as Oscar Wilde said, "nothing succeeds like excess." I might have just one more tonight.

RN: You paint yourself as the Great Soak, but I've rarely seen you truly toasted, a la Don Draper (pictured), Duck Phillips or just about any other adult character on "Mad Men." Either that, or you mask your inebriation well.

CP: I restrain myself when you're around. You might get all judge-y behind my back. But rest assured that I am, in the immortal words of Jerri Blank, "a user, a boozer and a loser."

RN: No, I only look down on you regarding your favorite so-called restaurants.

CP: I knew you did that. Actually, when it comes to liquor, I opt for the course of moderation. Within limits, natch.

RN: I don't hear you talking much about going home after a long day at the plant and chug-a-lugging a well-worn Big Gulp cup filled with Stoli. Does that make you what they call a social drinker?

CP: Yes. I do prefer to "get happy" in the company of others of like mind, present company excluded. Maybe it's fear of that hiding-empty-bottles-in-the-clothes- dryer syndrome.

RN: Because you know I'm checking, despite that spooky, spider-filled basement of yours. Now hand me your car keys.

CP: Loosen up. I'm putting the top down.

RN: This I've got to see, since you don't own a convertible. Once again, uptight Rick to the rescue.

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib

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