Waiting on four pepperoni HARs (hot and readys) to be...well...ready (Little Ceasar's was back-logged) I moseyed over to the bar next door to find a bar bathroom. I found and entered a small closet with two urinals and a stall and an older gentleman followed close behind and grabbed a urinal before I did.
Now I have to tell you that the events that transpired were not normal Edmund-Bathroom Protocol. Normally in a two-urinal-one-occupied situation I choose the stall. I take the high road. I take one for the team.
I normally go with the stall to give the urinal man some peace of mind and free flowage. Its an act of charity. A humanitarian endeavor. Have some courtesy. No man wants to stand inches away from a stranger who is also urinating.
But today was different. Today I felt sassy.
Plus the stall looked dirty and gross.
So I went with the urinal right next to him. And the most amazing thing happened. Staring at a wall full of ads, a bar calendar, business cards, and other pleasantries, the guy broke the tension: "Boy, April sure has flown by fast."
He was right. April had flown by fast.
Caught off guard by his candor and insightful observation, and noticing that I could practically taste the beer he'd been drinking, I went into talking-with-intoxicated-strangers mode. I love talking to intoxicated strangers. Okay let me clarify. This guy was about two beers away from swimming, so he was not really drunk-drunk. A better description would be "I love everyone in this bar and want to talk to everyone because I'm happy" intoxicated.
Let me tell you, for those few golden moments while relieving ourselves, we chatted up a STORM. Your Church rosary making group had nothing on us that day. I mean we were REALLY communicating on a deeply personal level. Chuckles were had. Heartfelt questions were asked. Comradery abounded. No eye contact though. That'd be weird.
As we parted ways, I couldn't help feeling that my life was just a smidge better than before I entered the bar. Instead of entering a crowded room full of people and pretending all of them were as real as Manti Te’o's girlfriend, I actually existed in a personal way in a room full of crowded people. Okay, in the bathroom next to a room full of crowded people.
Jefferey Kahn argues that beer gave us civilization because of its ability to put us all on the same social "playing field" by lowering our inhibitions. Which made me realize, a lot of the greatest Saints went through life sans inhibitions. In fact, the first Christians were mistaken for 4 a.m. Waffle House customers. (Look up Acts 2:13, I'm loosely paraphrasing sort of.)
Which made me THEN realize, all Saints are just drunk people!
Think about it. What made St. John Chrysostom call out the Emperor's wife publicly? Lack of inhibition. What caused St. Nicholas to think it was perfectly okay to slap the ever-living heresy out of Arius? Lack of inhibition. What made St. Francis Xavier travel door to door in a foreign land telling thousands of natives that they should make hamburgers instead of worshiping cows? Lack of inhibition. It goes on an on.
Its like Jesus is saying "Let them come to me, for the kingdom belongs to such drunks as these."
But it makes you wonder, what if we chose to act that way all the time? What if we chose to not have social inhibitions? (You weird extroverts that act this way on a regular basis can stop reading, this is for the rest of us. We can still be friends. Lower your voice. Yes, you can tell that one story again.)
In an increasingly technological society (how often have you heard THAT paragraph opener...) where we are more virtually connected than ever, we are also more physically disconnected than ever. When it comes to human interaction, inhibitions abound. Why am I more comfortable tweeting to thousands of strangers about my son pooping an uncomfortable amount, but I am super uncomfortable talking to strangers who say "Hey"?
Drunk people LOVE social interaction. They love talking to people they just met about anything. Some guy in a bar asked me what fancy store I got my jacket from. I told him Goodwill. He then proceeded to tell me all the articles of clothing he was wearing from Goodwill as well. Now THAT'S some social interaction for you people. We were the Goodwill crew from then on up in that place. We were companions.
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa devotes a whole book to this drunkeness thing, echoing Pope Paul VI who echoed St. Ambrose during a world congress of charismatic renewal in 1975: "Let us drink the sober intoxication of the Spirit with joy!"
"Prudence is the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it" says the Catechism. And if our conscience is that desire to do good and avoid evil, shouldn't it make sense that the devil would have a sort of anti-virtue to fight our conscience? An impulse that tells us to avoid the good?
You are right, being drunk is a sin. We are talking here about a sober intoxication. I'm being metaphorical and incendiary. I'm feeling sassy. But there is obviously some connection between what happens to a drunk person and what happens to a person filled with the Holy Spirit and consumed with love of Christ. Otherwise St. Ambrose is just being silly. This intoxication we are talking about knows no restraint from pursuing the good, it knows only wild reckless love. St. Paul tells us to be a fool for Christ in 1 Corinthians 4:10 for goodness sakes.
I hope this rant has taught you a few key life principles.
1) In a two-urinal-one-occupied situation, go for the free urinal. No one goes for the free urinal. You may be delightfully surprised. Or scarred for life. Who knows!
2) Talk to people! Be outgoing and friendly and if people get weirded out, just tell them you are sloshed, or soberly intoxicated, or in love with Jesus Christ. Whatever.
3) Stop avoiding human interaction. In an increasingly privatized, digitized, secularized world, human interaction is a saving antidote. People who drink beer know this well. Why do more people go to bars and drink over priced cocktails when they could be at home drinking the same thing at a fraction of the cost? Its not the peanuts. Its the human interaction. Bars are a refuge for the lonely. Being drunk is an excuse to know people and be known by people. So get out there and start giving people some attention!
4) The next time you feel some inhibition sneaking up in your skull, ask the Holy Spirit if this is your conscience trying to warn you to avoid evil, or if this is your weak flesh trying to tell you to stay comfortable, soft, and warm.
Stay soberly intoxicated, my friends.