Perhaps the most heartbreaking and difficult to watch scene in the iconic 1998 World War II film, "Saving Private Ryan" is when the squad's medic, Irwin "Doc" Wade has been shot multiple times in a skirmish. He's laying on the ground, critically injured, as his fellow soldiers scramble to help him, but he's the medic so he knows more than they do. So they're asking him as he's panicking and struggling to breathe how they can help him, and he's asking where his wounds are. When squad leader Capt. John Miller, played by Tom Hanks, takes one of Doc's hands and moves it around his torso to indicate to him where bullets entered his body, Doc makes a horrific realization.
"Oh, my liver!" he gasps.
A moment later, he's dead.
Not to make light of war or that movie scene at all, but one can't help but get the feeling that when this pandemic finally fades into the background, whenever that may be, millions of Americans are going to assess the current state of their health and well-being and collectively gasp,
"Oh, my liver!"
Days become a blur
My wife and I used to call them "school nights." When our boys were kids and going to school, if on occasion my wife and I were invited to any kind of social gathering in the middle of the work and school week and alcohol was going to somehow be involved, my wife would invariably offer the reminder, "It's a school night." It didn't mean we'd sip pops or lemon-waters all night in these scenarios, but the implication was that, as social drinkers, we were more inclined or at least felt more comfortable and responsible as adults and parents if we reserved our social drinking mostly for the end of the work week and the weekend.
But what if there are no “school nights”? What if basically all distinctions and boundaries between work life and home life and being social while also needing to be productive and get things accomplished are essentially a giant rug that suddenly gets pulled out from under us? What Tuesday is the new Friday? What if Tuesdays cease to exist?
Sure, during this pandemic and all of this social distancing and staying at home, people and families are doing things that a couple short months ago they would have never even considered. They're doing puzzles, digging dusty board games out of the closet and taking on various creative projects and pursuits within the confines of their homes.
But more than anything, people are boozing it up. And it's all supposed to be hilarious and cute and quirky. It's 5 o'clock somewhere, am I right? LOL!
Alcohol already had a vice-grip hold on the very pulse of our nation before the pandemic. Now it's like a blitzkrieg of booze, and everyone thinks it's 100% entertaining and not the least bit concerning.
But marijuana is the devil's business
You almost had to laugh at the timing of it. We were all easing into the stay-at-home order when the powers-that-be in Polk County all signed their names to and submitted to the local media a "position paper" written by a couple of attorneys who detailed how awful it would be if recreational marijuana was legalized in Minnesota.
With its old and often debunked arguments, it read like a time capsule I could have buried when I was in junior high school, when Nancy Reagan encouraged kids to "Just Say No."
As if dealing with pot-smokers is – or would be if legalized – #1 on the headache list of these attorneys and law enforcement officers. Really? Without alcohol use and abuse, half of them would be in another line of work.
Among the too-many-to-count memes and GIFs and TikTok videos depicting people turning to knee-slapping-funny alcohol during the pandemic is a video of a woman in her kitchen, wearing a robe and looking disheveled. Next to her is a half-gallon bottle of whisky and a tall glass. She's playing rock/paper/scissors against an actual pair of scissors positioned on her counter, and in this particular instance it's doubling as a drinking game. She does the 1-2-3 up and down movements with her hand and keeps choosing the paper symbol. Scissors cuts paper, of course, so she keeps chugging whisky out of her glass. Ha! HA! HA!
I watched it a couple times and tried to envision how anyone could think that she or anyone else would be worse off if every time she lost, on purpose, to her scissors, she took a hit from a little one-hitter packed with some good bud instead of chugging cheap whisky. I'm supposed to believe she'd be getting roped in by a "gateway drug" that will soon have her trying meth and heroin?
Just trying to cope
I'm not trying to be a downer or, worse yet, a hypocrite. My wife and I are drinking more alcohol these days than we were a month ago. I would dare say that every single person we know who qualifies as more than a casual acquaintance is doing the same. How do I know that? Because it's all we talk about and, yes, joke about.
I’m just saying that when we finally emerge on the other side of this terrible thing and we’re able to get out and about and socialize and support our favorite restaurants and bars, we’re going to be staring an adjustment dilemma in the face.
That day is coming. It’s returning. It’s called “Tuesday.”