Tuesday, November 26, 2013

10 Reasons Why You're 10 Steps Away From 10 Ways to Know the 10 Things 10-Point Article Writers Won't Tell You About the 10 Signs That You Are Reading Way Too Many 10-Point Articles

You've seen them in your multiple feeds. You thoroughly skim them. You share them eagerly. You have many of them bookmarked, and maybe even one open in a tab at this exact moment. They're everywhere! You know what I'm speaking of. You guessed it, my friends, I'm speaking of the infamous 10-Point Article (10PA)

"10 Reasons Why" this. "10 Things" that. "10 Secrets of" etcetera. They cover all the bases. From finding love to being a better boss; from warning signs that your spouse is cheating, to things doctors won't tell you about saying "Aaaaaghhh." All of life's questions about any subject can be answered in exactly 10 points.

It's perfect...a perfect 10, that is. Nvm.

Why the obsession though? I read these pretty impulsively, like you. I see links to them on Twitter, Facebook, and in text messages from my friends. Life coaching is only a touch of an iPhone screen away, and touch away I do. But, am I consuming these little self-help nuggets in excess? Am I spending too much time reading, saving, and sharing "10 Steps To Overcome Being an Introverted Extrovert?" I just wish there was a way to... Waaaaaaaait a minute...

Let me take it upon myself to serve our planet with my very own first 10PA. Without further ado, here are:

10 Signs That You are Reading Way Too Many 10-Point Articles

  1. You have 6-8 tabs open and all of them are 10PAs.
Wait. There's a deeper question. It shouldn't be overlooked that the authors of these articles don't know me, nor I them. How can I be certain that the author of "10 Ways to Find True, Lasting Heartbreak" truly want what is good for me and my peeps? Are their expertise legit? I'm sometimes suspicious that they're just amateur writers posing as professors and CEOs and love doctors. You know, I get the hunch that I'm not being told something when I'm scrolling from point to point. You know, I bet there are ways to know... waaaaaaaait a minute...

Without further ado, here are:

10 Things 10-Point Article Writers Won't Tell You About the 10 Signs That You Are Reading Way Too Many 10-Point Articles

People keep secrets these days. Even when trying to help someone discern if they are reading way too many 10PAs, there are always things that are not said. You may take every point of "10 Secrets to Being a Better Secret Keeper" to heart and feel grateful for such surfacey platitudes, but there's always an agenda. You've taken the bait. 10PA writers are always eying the next move, and every point you internalize is moving them closer to their desired outcome. Sad, I know. Here's what they won't tell you: 
  1. These authors want you to read their stuff, so they won't include they dropped out of journalism and need followers to regain lost dreams...
Hold up. I believe we are getting ahead of ourselves here. We're still a ways away from being ready to pull back the curtain on these jokers who are likely using the cash from "10 Things Your Pet Won't Tell You About Not Being Able to Talk" to buy bath salts. Because the truth sometimes hurts, you need to be mentally and emotionally prepared to have that kind of bomb dropped. Consider this next section the manufacturer who installs the air-bags into your car to better your chances of surviving a head-on with reality. You're 10 steps away from being ready...

10 Reasons Why You're 10 Steps Away from 10 Ways to Know the 10 Things 10-Point Article Writers Won't Tell You About the 10 Signs That You Are Reading Way Too Many 10-Point Articles

We're 10 steps away from knowing the truth about what people won't tell us about the signs that you are reading way too many 10PAs. We're 10 steps away because the truth hurts, and we need adequate preparation. But, hey, the truth is, we read too many 10PAs as it is, so you can go ahead and close this tab...but wait. What I won't tell you is that my agenda for writing this is to get us all to laugh at ourselves next time we find ourselves (or our friends) sharing yet another 10PA. At the end of the day, one of the best "self-help" strategies is to take a good ol' look at life and just laugh at our silly mistakes trust that our circumstances that are working to better us as peeps. Read on about 10 Ways to Find the Perfect Man/Woman, or 10 Reasons to Let Go of the Past, or 10 Reasons Why Dating a Bartender is Awesome. Just know that if you can't laugh at yourself you're DEFINITELY gonna be a prime suspect for one who reads way to many 10PAs.

Anticlimactic, probably. Whatev. Hope you enjoyed.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

That Time Santa Brought Me a Dog Bite for Xmas

Thanks, Yeller.
When you're in 5th grade you tend to trust adults. They know best. They've lived life. They get it. So, when they confidently assure you a dog, as foamy of a bark as is he/she may have, won't bite, you get on board hoping they're right.

I'm now an adult, and trust me, sometimes adults are idiots.

It was Christmas. December 23rd to be exact. I was in the 5th grade. I was making straight-A's to be exact. In accordance with family tradition, my folks and I were visiting our friends who lived across town for some good ol' Christmas fun. This particular year, however, our friends had moved to the country to live closer to their aging grandparents. Living in the country means a family comes fully equipped with a protective dog that can stir up a good bit of commotion in the event of a burglar, pesky coon, rattler, or anything that seems out of place. This family was about as country as it got, so they had a dog. An old Golden Retriever creatively named, you guessed it, Yeller. I'm sure at one point, this old, patchy-haired beast was pretty fun for the kids in its earlier days. I'm sure he used to be great at fetch. I'm sure he did some hilarious twists in the summer grass after playing in the sprinkler. The only thing now was that Yeller had gone slightly batshit crazy. He was in the barking-at-your-own-shadow stage, had that infamous crazy blue eye, was partially deaf, and probably had various species of worms--but more on that shortly.

Well, up walks my family to this new country address with presents, sugar cookies, and sausage balls in hand and wearing the most atrocious Christmas attire you could imagine. The house was sort of a cottage with a wrap around yard encompassed by a chain-link fence. I led the way to the gate with arms full of presents when from around the house runs an incoherent Yeller barking, foaming, and doing this push the fence/back away/push the fence move. Now, dogs were usually scared of me. I was a mean 5th grader. This time, however, I was a little hesitant to enter. Yeller, to his credit, had a pretty loud, echoing bark I felt in my chest. Yet, out comes our friends saying in a thick Texas drawl, "Aw, Yeller, get on. C'mown, y'all. He aint gon' bytcha." Still a little hesitant, I enter with a cute Texan, "Mmowkay." Sure enough, a growling and frustrated Yeller retreated 'round back, and the festivities commenced.

Eron's Christmas - 1; Yeller - 0.

Later that night, bellies full of sausage balls, sugar cookies, and punch, my friend and I decide to go outside. This was Christmas in Texas, mind you. So we ventured into the yard in shorts and with a football. Hyper on sugary punch, we were pretty wound up, and were throwing the football really hard at each others' faces. In an effort to kill my friend, I threw a rocket spiral. Unfortunately, it actually missed his face and soared overhead and landed, you guessed it, 'round back.

You ever seen Sandlot?

I had awaken the dragon. I heard the growling and barking begin from behind the house. In the shadows I saw Yeller's silhouette run and inspect the intruding object. And, apparently after picking up my scent and "smelling" my fear (as trustworthy adults say dogs can do), he darted from the shadows. It was Yeller's hour.

It all happened in slow motion. I saw Yeller dash across the yard, leap a good inch into the air, and as I protected my face, latch onto my right wrist. I lowered my arm (with Yeller still attatched) and side-kicked him off, yanking my arm from his clutches. I saw Yeller back off and trot off to the side. I hadn't yet seen my arm.

Now, I had been bitten pretty hard by dogs before. Again, I was mean to animals as a young boy. I figured this was just another bite that hurt, but wasn't a big deal. Then I looked down. That bastard Yeller, with his top-right canine, opened the top of my wrist, and with his bottom-right canine, made a deep hole in the side of my wrist.

Eron's Christmas - 1; Yeller - 10,000+.

I ran inside screaming, holding my wrist to a crowd of confused (and now untrustworthy) adults. Blood was running down my arm and hand, and my faithful buddy next to me was faithfully...begging to see it. I was rushed to the hospital where it was discovered that ol' Yeller had gift-wrapped me a chipped wrist bone that required surgery.

I spent Christmas in the hospital that year. Yeller spent Christmas in heaven that year.

So, the takeaway?

You better not pout, you better not cry,
You better watch out, I'm telling you why.
Santa Clause will give you a dog bite.

Happy Throwback Thursday.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

10 Status Updates/Tweets That I Never Posted But Maybe Wanted To

So, I've never really been one to wear my heart/faith/political views/frustrations/relationships/etc. on my [Facebook/Twitter] sleeve. Although I may have deep convictions and values and pains about a ton of issues, for some reason I have never been moved to share them publicly in a status. To each his own, but status updates for me are at best trivial and many times my own narcissistic attempt to get a self-esteem boost by how many "likes" I get. Again, that's just me. So, I rarely status anything serious. Instead, I write blogs when I really want to get my heart across...and then let you discover them here. :) 

With that said, I've had some sincere statuses on my heart that I really want to get out there in a succinct way, but don't want to post on Facebook or Twitter. So, I've blogged some statuses. I've done this once before, but it's been a while. Now, without further ado, here are 10 status updates/tweets that I never posted but maybe wanted to.

(These are not in order of importance)

1) "I truly love Jesus Christ more than anything in the world, but my actions and thoughts quite often reveal that I think He's pathetic."

2) "I want to be that sweet and strong godly man who is the answered prayer(s) of the young woman who has consistently dated assholes, but I seem to always end up the asshole that makes the girl pray for a sweet and strong godly man."

3) "Man of Steel kind of turned into Star Trek about half way through."

4) "Bruno gets it: 'All you young, wild girls, you make a mess of me/will be the death of me/I'll always come back to you.'"

5) "I wish I never made anyone cry ever again."

6) "I suck at politics. That's right, I have 0 effs left to give. (see what I did there?)"

7) "Thank you Brian Eichelberger for writing Satisfied in You! 'Let my losses truly show that all I really have is You. Thank you."

8) "Being misunderstood is the worst thing ever, probably."

9) "I don't want to learn from my mistakes with you so I'll be "more wise" with someone else. I want to be wiser for you."

10) "I don't understand what it means to "start loving Jesus more." My understanding is that I need to understand that He loves me regardless of my lack of understanding."

Not that any of that mattered or made sense to you, but I feel better. Maybe more to come...?


Friday, April 05, 2013

Beautiful Strangers.

Real quick story.

On Thursday I was spending some time with this real sweet girl that I wanted to show a good time. On our walk to Garage Bar, I discovered she had never been to Louisville's Harvest restaurant, which was only a few doors down. Yeah, change of plans.

She didn't see it coming. I didn't see it coming. The next thing we know, we're posturing at the bar in one of my favorite foodie spots being handed seasonal menus of the freshest locally-sourced grub in the city. If you haven't been to Harvest, do so immediately.

Oh, do I see Hoptimus Prime on tap? Is that a peach Old Fashioned on the menu? Wait, did you say your Thursday burger special for the night was a chorizo omelet burger served on a pretzel bun with a side of pulled pork fries? Done and done and friggin' done. Took all of 5 minutes.

As my sweet company and I made ourselves comfy, we introduced ourselves to our surrounding neighbors. To our right sat a nice looking middle-aged couple who were eagerly awaiting their meal as they enjoyed some drinks. Now, one reason I love eating at the bar at a restaurant as opposed to floor seating is because of the freedom to meet interesting people. The mystery factor. Table seating is more formal and is certainly appropriate for certain occasions. Bar seating, on the other hand, is less constrained. You're there on your own time without a server and you can do your own thing at your own pace. You're there in close proximity to others with the same agenda for a more "fluid" evening of fun. Folks at the bar love rubbing elbows with strangers and are eager to get into great convo, solve the world's problems, and even buy a round of drinks for their new founded friend who they may never see again. Some of the greatest things happen over good drinks and a good meal and a good laugh with strangers.

So, we meet Elsa and Bill. Elsa is a pediatrician who was enjoying a dirty martini. Bill never disclosed his occupation, but the fact that he was enjoying a canned beer means he was surely into something manly, like cage fighting. We exchanged names, where we were from, where we worked, favorite foodie spots, what brought us to Louisville, how long my date and I had been dating, and your typical get to know you banter. Their food arrived first, which happened to be exactly what we ordered. They offered us their fries as we waited. I offered them a taste of my peach Old Fashioned. Conversations and questions evolved into deeper matters of life, and I began to explain that I moved here to get a Master of Divinity in Christian ministry, but now work at a bar and didn't go the ministry route. That always makes for a fun excursion. But, with the right people I'm happy to unpack my whereabouts. The interaction was very pleasant. Bill and Elsa were very sweet, even though Elsa at one point offered her wedding ring so I could propose to my date. I blame that on the alcohol.

Our food arrived and my date and I straight crushed our burger. We ate and drank and continued to get to know these folks who turned out to be quite fantastic and funny.

As the evening wrapped up, we expressed our gratitude for having met such a great couple. As they gathered their things, Bill, in a fit of grace and greatness, said,

"And put theirs on ours." 

I put my hand on Bill's arm and insisted, "No, seriously, you do not have to do that."
"No, no, it's okay." He looked back at the bartender who I was waving down, "Yes, go ahead. We got theirs."

No way. I continued to negotiate and try to at least buy them a final round of drinks. Nope. Bill and Elsa bought our drinks, appetizer, and chorizo-omelet burger, which turned out to be a decent bill. "Have a great night. Great meeting you," they said as they left with a smile.

Maggie and I looked at each other. They just bought our meal. I just shook my head and was like, "What just happened?!"

She didn't see it coming. I didn't see it coming. Not sure if we'll ever see them again, which is okay because I've been wanting to meet someone(s) I can always label as that "beautiful stranger." I think Elsa and Bill qualify.

See ya.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Pee Gee

There have been two times in my life when I've strategically wet myself. This is the account of the first time. Now, by "wet myself" I mean I generously distributed the majority, if not all, of the liquid content of my full bladder on to my outer garments, skin cells, and nearby objects. "Strategically" as in a dignified, fully awake, not drunk, not frightened, untickled, calculated, confident, "the-rewards-outweigh-the-consequences," effort to accomplish the goals I had in mind at the time.

I was in first grade, and our elementary school was hosting an annual Career Week. At the end of each day, someone from the town would come to our class and lie to us about how much they loved their job and try to steer us away from drugs and homelessness. If we were lucky, some of them brought gadgets like a gun or an owl or candy. Some of them were super helpful, like the summer camp director who brought a buzzard that bit him on the nose and drew blood. Others were a little more forgettable, such as the garbage man (who likely did drugs and at least looked homeless) and girls basketball coach. But, it was the last day of Career Week that we truly looked forward to. That Friday was career dress-up day! Yep. We could come to school wearing the outfit of our future career! Kids care about that stuff, and my elementary school cared about kids.

To the best of my recollection, my colleagues came to school that day wearing all kinds of things. From ballerinas to doctors to Ninja Turtles to fire-fighting princesses, our grade was decked out. Of course, yours truly had high aspirations. I knew I wanted to be where the action was. I wanted to be the man. I also wanted to avoid get bullied the rest of my life. So, I went to school dressed as a Tae Kwon Do instructor. Boom. I figured out from an early age that flying sidekicks were the quickest way to make huge bank.

Now, being a young first grader, I often needed help with things like getting dressed, and that day I wore my martial arts gee. Let's just say, a gee has to be secure. I mean, you can't exactly throw someone through a window when your clothes be fallin' off. So, in addition to your belt, you have to tie about six different knots within the shirt and pants that functionally make the entire getup one piece. Still tracking? It's basically a straight-jacket minus the folded arms. Now, being a young first grader, my mom wanted to make sure my gee didn't some how come loose as I chopped my fellow students' jugulars. Being the overprotective type, she made damn sure to tie every single knot into a double-knot. Yep. You know where this is going.

Off to school I went, dressed as an aspiring double-knot. Long story short, because of how tight my mother tied those knots, bathroom breaks were not really an option on Career Day. But, martial artists are known for white-knuckle discipline, which most certainly includes discipline of their bladders, right? Challenge accepted. All day I went without a single bathroom break as any good martial artist would. I went the whole entire day!! I mean, this was going to be my career. I had to play the part. I confidently took a few gulps of water at recess. No issues. I went ahead and ate lunch as normal. Not even phased. Afternoon nap time water and bathroom break. Pshhhh, I got this. I'm focused.

Then, later that day the unthinkable happened.

So, being a young first grader, you get into trouble. Sometimes when trouble strikes, the entire class gets punished. It's just the system. I don't recall the exact offense, but I remember that somehow the entire class ended up with the lights out, our heads down, and silent as the teacher paced the room for the last 15 min of class. Not a bad punishment, necessarily. But when you got a bladder the size of a basketball, it's torture. 

There I sat. On the front row. Trembling. My greatest challenge yet, um, in life. I explicitly remember my thought process:

"Ok, I have 20 minutes to go. But then I have at least another 20-30 min bus ride home before I can use the bathroom. I can stay focused and wait. Or, I can go, right here, right now. Hmm. Ok, I've wet the bed before and sometimes it dries before I wake up. No one really notices. It's usually just damp. If I go, I have 20 minutes for it to dry. No one will notice. I got this."


So, I gladly abandoned my career aspirations and went with option two. Sorry, guys, but Daniel Son has left the building. Listen, I emptied the entire contents of my bladder on Burnet Elemetary's world. It was tantamount to someone running over a fire hydrant. It felt absolutely amazing. I cannot even begin to describe the relief, and I likely lost a few pounds in the process.

Now, the plan was simple. Stay still. Let it dry. Change the subject if anyone asks.

About 2 minutes into this brilliant idea, I heard the teacher stop in the back of our class. Again, I was on the front row.

"Eron, is this yours?"

I lifted my head, looked down, then looked at my teacher. The chair was dripping streams, I had advanced from white belt to yellow belt in a matter of seconds, and there was a golden river ever widening down the aisle towards the back of the room.

I had to think quick. As a martial artist, I tried to distance myself from the conflict. I looked at the girl sitting behind me and asked, "What did you do?" It didn't work. I was directed to the office where I called my dad to come pick me up.

My plan had failed, and I pissed away any future in martial arts. My outfit came to be known as the infamous "pee gee." And I hate double-knots.

Thank you for your time. Have a great day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What's Your Game Plan?

Sometimes, there are just those gut reactions that you must not ignore. When I heard the co-owners of Hammerheads were working on a new restaurant project that specialized in exotic-game burgers, my gut's words to me were, "If you don't feed me there immediately, you will truly come to know irritable bowel syndrome." Tonight a friend and I followed our guts to Louisville's newest kitchen, Game. Opened by Adam Burress and Chase Mucerino, owners of the brilliant establishment known as Hammerheads (check out a cool review here), Game is yet another reason why Louisville legitimately has one of the top restaurant scenes in the country. Here's why:

So, you walk in. With a glass exterior, low-lit red lighting, and the aroma of protein in the air, I was transported to a mountainous lodge where I felt like I should be hanging up my crossbow and heading to the restroom to wash the dirt and blood from my face. Instead, I reached a freshly Purelled hand into my hoodie for my iPhone and started taking pics. Regardless, the vibe is very manly. My pal and I sat at the bar and were served by Chris, whom I recognized from Hammerheads. Dude was great.

Wild Boar, Antelope, Lamb, Ostrich meatballs at Game
The basic idea behind Game is to offer exotic meats--ostrich, kangaroo, antelope, wild boar, duck, etc.--in the form of burgers and/or meatballs. So brilliant. Like Hammerheads, there are a few additional options in terms of appetizers and samplers, but this joint is about the art of burger. You have the audacious option to build your own burger with an assortment of bread (brioche, pretzel, focaccia, pumpernickel, etc.), cheese (herbed goat, brie, gorgonzola, swiss, and the like.), and sauce (roasted habanero ranch, tomato jam, bone marrow mayo, smoked truffle mayo, and such) or you can be smart, flip the menu, and go with the chef's recommended combos.

Duck Burger at Game
We each ordered a Delirium Tremens on draft and started agreeing on our game plan. We started out with meatballs and grilled fennel. Ostrich, lamb, antelope, wagyu, and wild boar meatballs to be exact. One meatball is big enough for two to share. The ostrich and lamb were the standouts. We then ordered our burgers. Mine, the duck burger on focaccia with an egg; my fellow hunter-gatherer, kangaroo on pretzel with tomato jam. Served on a wooden plank, we portioned our catch sagittally and then swapped. So frickin good! Every bite. I declared the kangaroo the victor of this boxing round.

Kangaroo Burger at Game
So, yeah, this place is for real. Though I'm not sure it'll surpass Hammerheads' more varietal menu and eclectic vibe, Game has taken the burger to the next level, period. There is no better place to have your foodie horizons expanded than to bite into an ostrich, kangaroo, and antelope in one setting. Definitely a great place for dudes to hang out who are serious about meat. Ladies, next to Holy Grale, Feast BBQ, and Meat, this is a place to earn some major girlfriend points for your man. Treat him like the man that he is by feeding him things lions eat in the wild. Still, it'll take a bit to see how this place does. I'm eager to see how this place fairs in the summer when the burger is more in season. Either way, plan to visit this place and get your predator on soon.

Game on, people. Game on.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Venti, Decaf, Non-Fat, No Foam, 4 S&L, Love You A Latte!

You just need to hear this story:

While working at the Starbucks in the Seelbach Hotel today, in walked a runner from our room service department. He had an order for someone ordering drink from their room. As you would expect from someone too...unable to endure the smooth elevator ride down from their room to our cozy Starbucks, this order was very high-maintenance.

The runner said, "So, this is for someone in the hotel. Ok, it's pretty specific." He then lumbered through, as if he'd never seen anything remotely close to a Star or a Buck, what ended up being this drink to your right: a Venti, decaf, non-fat, no-foam, four Sweet & Low, latte. After my Sharpie ran out of ink, I proceeded to craft this highly nuanced beverage. With the delicious concoction in hand, off the runner went. The time was around 5:35.

Somewhere around 5:50, in walked a middle-aged lady thankful that we were still open. Out of breath, she greeted us and proceeded to order, "Can I please get a Venti, decaf, non-fat, no foam, 4 S&L, latte?" I paused for a second, looked at my fellow barista extraordinaire, Mary-Ellen, and said, "That's interesting. I just made that exact drink about 15 min ago. Same size, same milk, same no-foam, same everything. I made one for room service a few minutes ago. Is this your second one?" Confused, she said, "No, it's my first. That's really strange." We laughed, curiously. Mary-Ellen asked, "So, you didn't order one from your room?"

Then it dawned on her. She smiled one of the sweetest smiles I've ever seen, looks away and then back, and says, "That's my drink. He ordered me my drink! He told me to be in my room at 6." She then explains to us how she missed her flight and, as it turned out, her boyfriend had called the hotel from out of state, and ordered her drink from effing memory, then he called her and told her where to be. "He wanted me to feel better about missing my flight, so he ordered me my drink." Things like this happen when badasses fall in love.

Props, my man. Cupid would be proud.

With the missed flight nowhere in her memory, her day was, in a word, made. My day was made. Mary-Ellen's day was made. In that moment, I felt like I did at the end of Crazy, Stupid, Love (long story) and was almost teary eyed at how this woman was just loved. I immediately extended a high-five, said, "Wow! Tell you're boyfriend that I am impressed! Props to him! Amazing. Now get to your room!" After she frolicked out of the store, Mary-Ellen and I looked at each other and just shook our heads. So sweet. We couldn't stop talking about it.

 A Latte? Shoot, more like, I love you a...latte, baybay!

I took time out of my busy schedule to let you know about this. Probably my favorite Starbucks experience thus far.

Happy early Valentines.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Finding the Golden Ratio of Faith and Bartending, Part III

Cocktail at Meat, Lousiville, KY
Well, well, well, it's finally the last call in this little trilogy known by some as "The Chronicles of Barnia" (a title I was discouraged from using by a good friend who was tipsy enough to tell me it was stupid.). It's finally here. I've procrastinated long enough. Here's your Part III.

Now, just to clarify, I'm not trying to be the Tim Tebow of the bar industry or anything. All I've tried to do thus far is simply offer the simple idea that being a bartender doesn't dilute any deep convictions of personal holiness (if you missed those discussions be sure to hit up part 1 and part 2). In my previous posts, I tried to engage some common ideas I think might keep some fellow believers from accepting that a Christian can indeed flourish in the bar industry and remain "above reproach," faithfully upholding the Christian  morals concerning drunkenness and debauchery. Hopefully it has been flavorful and well-balanced discussion.

Yet, in the crafting of any argument and to make any concoction palatable, this discussion calls for a final garnish, if you will, and a good positive response for why bar tending can be an acceptable means of employment as it relates to the Lordship of Jesus. Essentially, I don't want to argue my case by only responding to objections. I want you to play defense and try to keep me out of your territory. Only fair. Whether folks pass on the chance to explore the fascinating history or craft of alcohol (which is an admirable decision, no question), I simply want all who love Christ and the Bible to acknowledge that the crafting of wine, beer, spirits, and cocktails is an area where the creativity, wisdom, and skill of man is a wonderful manifestation of a creative, wise, skillful Creator God who can reign and be glorified in this midst of an industry that's too often run amok. Again, as I've wanted to make clear in this whole discussion, I don't think it's profitable for every Christian to work at a bar. Nor am I suggesting that every bar is acceptable to work at. There are indeed only a few contexts that can allow for both the "lawful and profitable" (1 Cor. 6.12) learning experience that I've received. I also want to acknowledge the long list of heartbreaking examples from my own life and those close to me of the devastating consequences of alcohol abuse. Please hear my effort to offer a balanced perspective that allows for a deep appreciation for a fine, well-made, hand-crafted beverage, while still giving full credence that booze can be a life-enslaving substance that can bring out the worst in our savior-seeking hearts. We good?

Okay. Cheers. Let's do this.

Let's start with a quote from a notable work on the history of cocktails:

"Now, admittedly, mixed drinks are not paintings, sculptures, novels, or poems. They are disposable and, frankly, not a little bit disreputable, standing roughly in the same relation to the culinary arts that American motor sports do to automotive engineering or hot jazz to musical composition: they smack of improvisation and cheap effects and even the most august [i.e., respectable] of them lack the cachet [i.e., state of being respected] accorded to fine wines, old whiskies, and cognac brandies. The are easily abused: they can degrade lives and even destroy them. Even if appreciated in moderation, they are appreciated in surroundings that rarely lead to detached meditation on truth and beauty (if those are not the same thing) or constructive engagement with the great moral and social questions of the age. And yet neither are they contemptible. A proper drink at the right time--one mixed with care and skill and served in a true spirit of hospitality--is better than any other made thing at giving us the illusion, at least, that we're getting what we want from life. A cat can gaze upon a king, as the proverb goes, and after a Dry Martini or a Sazerac Cocktail or two, we're all cats."
                                                                                             --David Wondrich, Imbibe!, 10. 

So, the thing my friend here is getting at is that cocktails, in particular, naturally have an uphill battle to climb on two fronts. First, as he says, "they are easily abused: they can degrade lives and even destroy them." No question there. But, secondly, "Even if appreciated in moderation, they are appreciated in surroundings that rarely lead to detached meditation on truth and beauty (if those are not the same thing) or constructive engagement with the great moral and social questions of the age." So, not only do folks get hammered, but even if they drink in moderation, the context in which they do rarely has the ambiance of thought or intentionality. When people occasionally stand on the tables at my bar, it often isn't to find better footing for reciting Shakespeare. So, if you want to snuggle up to your favorite book with a cocktail in hand, you should probably invest in a home bar. However, "a proper drink at the right time--one mixed with care and skill and served in a true spirit of hospitality (now there's an idea)--is better than any other made thing at giving us the illusion, at least, that we're getting what we want from life." Smells like a whiff from Psalm 104:15.

A Craft Cocktail Appreciation Dinner a friend of mine and I hosted in Oct.

Hospitality, creativity, and context are all key to the Golden Ration of appreciation for the mixed drink. 

Now, infuse this idea with the following from one of my favorite spiritual leaders:
“He created the flavors! He created the colors. He created it all, and he did it all out of the overflow of his perfections. It’s not like he was thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got some fajita flavoring over here. I know: let’s put it on the cow and the chicken.’ He created the avocado to have a certain flavor; he created the skirt steak, the fillet, and the tenderloin to have certain flavors. That was God’s doing. So every aspect of creation, from the largest galaxy to the tiniest burst of flavor in food or drink or seasoning, radiates the goodness of God.” 

Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel, 102.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. All of it. "The earth is the Lord's, and all the fullness thereof" (Psalm 24:1). God, in His infinite wisdom and creativity, designed fermentation--not man in his limited foolishness and fallen ingenuity. God, because He's a genius, gets biological fermentation and how yeast converts sugar into ethanol. That process brings Him glory and He took pleasure in gifting humanity with such a discovery. God is a master chef and understands the culinary science of flavor. He gets dry-shaking and the emulsification of an egg white in a Pisco Sour...aaaand why consuming it can increase the risk of food borne illness (that was for free). In His great generosity and kindness, God gifted humanity with a planet bursting with potential ingredients for us to enjoy with gratitude (1 Tim 6:17). He gave us taste buds because He knows that food and drink and dessert makes our hearts glad. Alcohol, though easily abused and turned into an object of worship, can be enjoyed in moderation as an act of worship. 

In one last word, let me say it this way. Even if Jesus never turned water into fantastic wine (John 2:1-11) or been falsely accused of over-consumption (Matt. 11:19; Luke 7:34), and even if Paul would've never allowed Timothy to use wine as a 1st century version of Pepto (1 Tim. 5:23), and even if Psalm 104 didn't rejoice in the way our majestic God tenderly cares for His creation by, of all ways, causing wine to "maketh glad the heart of man" (v.15), and even if 1st century wine was of lesser alcohol content than today, and even if we weren't explicitly told that we would drink wine in heaven with Jesus (Mark 4:25), there's still enough revealed in Genesis 1 and 2 to at least allow non-drinking Christians to give props to God for what is now culinary art found in the crafting of cocktails, beer brewing, and wine making. The freedom or restriction to participate in that art is determined by your conscience.
My Homemade Eggnog

Hospitality, creativity, context, and conscience. Golden Ratio. 

If you decline the opportunity to explore the craft of alcoholic beverages, hopefully I've provided enough of a framework for you to apply this to every other venue of life and culture. Don't be afraid to enjoy God's good creation. Give thanks to God for creating the resources necessary to enjoy that cup of coffee you're drinking as you read this. Go back to your favorite restaurant with a new appreciation for God's genius and the skill imparted by Him to your chefs. Go enjoy some art or a play or live jazz or some other form of human culture that has God's creativity stamped all over it. And, if you're ever in Louisville, stop by Meat. I'll be there and I'll make you the best Shirley Temple that your Prohibitionist, tee-totalin' britches will be pleading for a repeal of conscience!


The end. Now go call a cab.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Finding the Golden Ratio of Faith and Bartending, Part II

...moving right along:

By working at a bar, you are carelessly subjecting yourself to the temptation of alcohol and an environment that can ruin your Christian witness.

I do have to say, I truly resonate with this objection and always seek to be attentive when Christian brothers and sisters raise this particular concern. I welcome the accountability. At work, I am literally surrounded by booze--no, seriously, it's how the bar is set up (see pic). True, being physically surrounded by alcohol naturally presents the opportunity to drink with ease as an acceptable part of the job. Anyone in the bar industry knows the inseparable (even inevitable) link between bartending and alcoholism. It's a given. So, as a Christian, doesn't it seem utterly flippant to place myself so close to such a life dominating substance? My commendation of Christ can be instantly discredited by one stupid night of drinking. So, why even risk it?

Well, first things first. It is because of this very concern that multiple people (whom I meet with weekly) are in the know about the kind of work I do. Though at work I am sometimes surrounded by a room of people who are filled with all kinds of spirits, off-site I'm surrounded by folks filled with a Spirit (cheesy, I know) of another kind that know when and how to ask questions that keep my heart in check. There's a wide group of peeps who I sit in church with, sing with, serve with, pray with, talk Jesus with, and who know my heart well. I'm immersed in a community whom I have openly discussed and vividly portrayed things that happen at my bar, including the couple times that I've come close to crossing the line--a community that prays for me and would certainly challenge me if things got questionable. Though I certainly partake of a nice beverage most nights that I work, it is primarily because of this Christian accountability that I've been able to work for six months in this industry without ever having developed a drinking issue. Yet, there's no room to boast. It's all of grace. I'm grateful to God alone.

Second, everyone I work with explicitly knows what I'm about. When shots are raised for a "staff meeting," I've been known to "donate" my shot to a co-worker or simply pass on it altogether--unless it's a shot of Cynar (pronounced "chee-nar," which is an Italian artichoke liqueur. Dag.). We here at The First Official Officious Blog never pass on Cynar. But the majority of the time, I'm one (sometimes two) and done, and that comes straight from the biblical conviction that drunkenness is a sin (Eph. 5:18).

Overall, the temptation isn't as challenging for me as one might think. I mean, I'm at work. Though at our bar we have the freedom to enjoy a shift-drink on the clock, I sometimes don't. Don't get me wrong, I certainly love getting paid while enjoying a cold bev, no doubt. It can make work fun. But, I'm also busy at work. I want to stay focused. And, when I'm done, I'm worn and I want to go home, not stay and have a few. I personally don't drink as much as my job description might suggest. Plus, drinking gets old. As much as I love cocktails, beer, and wine (in that order), I sometimes just want a friggin' Coke...served on the rocks with a cherry. Honestly, when I think about it, the temptation is actually low. Do I drink? Yeah. Do I drink heavily? No. Does it "ruin my witness?" Hm, maybe in the mind of presumptuous Christians. But, if by grace I'm resisting temptation and faithfully avoiding to lure of drunkenness, my prayer is that I would ruin my witness no more than Jesus ruined His when he placed himself in similar contexts (Luke 7:34). My heart is that I would model modestly in such a way that my example would incite questions and gain a hearing to share that the only good thing in me is Christ--hearings of which I've gained several. If I'm walking in integrity amidst a bar and people find the gospel unattractive, then that's not on me. Unbelief and resistance to the gospel is something you can't blame on the alcohol. Genesis 3 is the better label to have in your well.

At the end of the day, I must say that I'm not recommending working at a bar to all, or even most, Christians. I'm also not suggesting that all bars are the same and/or foster the same elegant environment as the one I currently work at. My bar is a notch more cozy and fosters a culture of appreciation for a good drink, whereas other bars in town are a few notches too douchey and serve Bud Light and Jell-O shots. Furthermore, I'm not suggesting to those who struggle with the temptation to drink should invite into their lives something that could have devastating consequences. It's not for everyone, and consciences of all stripes should be honored regardless. Some people should never start drinking, period. Some should never return to drinking. Others should certainly slow down and humbly receive the heartfelt rebukes of their more modest brothers and sisters. Still, others should press on in their modest example of Christian gratitude for alcohol. Those with a caution in their consciences regarding alcohol should not presume to know the hearts of those who are free to drink in moderation, but rather allow the Lord to judge. Likewise, those who are more at liberty to drink are encouraged by scripture to lay aside the contempt that results from similarly presuming their brothers and sisters are guilty of simplistic judgment. Both should live in harmony and be willing to cast aside freedoms out of love. I work at a bar. But I'm happy to host my non-drinking brothers and sisters and serve Coke...in a rocks glass with a cherry. That's how I read Romans 14.


I've got one more post in me. Next time I want to go on offense and provide my framework for why I actively appreciate the history, craft, and culture surrounding alcohol, and why even Christians who don't drink should consider doing the same. Beer, wine, and spirits can fit nicely within the context of a Christian worldview, and thus can be appreciated to the glory of God. We'll see how well that mixes. Till next round...

To be continued...