Cocktails and sport

12 Sep

Patriis Virtutibus.—That Prohibition has taken from the American one of his most amusing pastimes, the Prohibitionists loudly challenge. They assert that if drinking and become pleasantly alcoholed is an amusing pastime then the American is better off, and eventually happier, without that pastime. Speaking for one American, I deny it. I do not care for golf; it doesn’t amuse me; and it makes me lame. Cocktails do amuse me, and they do not make me lame. Furthermore, if I drink cocktails with a man, I enjoy his conversation. It is livelier, gayer, more interesting than the idiotic conversation about strokes, putts and holes that I have to listen to if I play golf with him. Nor do I care for the other so-called sports: I can see neither profit nor pleasure in running across a lot after a leather ball that some other bonehead has hit with a round piece of wood, or sitting up half the night waiting to be given a playing card that will make my hand worth $1.50 in I.O.U.’s, or in walking three miles through the Park inhaling the smell of monkeys and Italians. Reading is part of my profession: I like to get away from it when I have play-time. What is there left? I live in New York. I am a bachelor. I have no lawn to mow, no wife to fight, no children to put didies on. What is left, obviously, is a cocktail or two. When the five o’clock whistle blows and I roll down my sleeves and throw my lead pencil into the spittoon, I want to sit down with a friend and spill two-thirds of gin and one-third of vermouth into me. I have been doing it for the last twenty-two years; my father did it before me; my grandfather—God rest his old red nose!—did it before him. I am happy, healthy, prosperous. My father was happy, healthy, prosperous. My grandfather was happy, healthy, prosperous. I want to keep on being as I have been, and as they were. If the Prohibitionists insist upon my going out and getting lumbago on a sport moor instead of staying comfortably indoors and getting mildly and healthfully snooted, then I say the devil take ‘em. I had my first drink, at the table of my parents, at the age of nine: a bit of claret. I shall have my last drink at my own table—God willing, with my mother—if I have to put on a pair of greasy whiskers, turn my collar hind-end foremost and, thus disguised as a Methodist clergyman, sneak it across the Canadian border myself.

— H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan, “Répétition Générale”, Smart Set, vol. 64:1 (January 1921), pp. 33-40 (pp. 34-5).


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