Dry January

 Dry January

By Sean McVeigh

Hello, from my living room on a Saturday night. Unlike my usual routine of writing on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, I’m here typing away during the weekend. You may be wondering why I am spending my Saturday night writing this column. (You also might not care at all — too bad for you!) Well, the weather isn’t helping the situation, but the real reason I find myself sequestered in my home when I would normally be hitting the town, as one is prone to do on Saturday nights, is because of Dry January.

Sometime from now, in the not so distant future, I assume, when the Intergalactic Alliance commissions some extraterrestrial historians to review the totality of human history and ponder some of the greatest ideas we ever conceived, it will be difficult to pick a champion among the many contenders: Democracy, writing things down, heliocentrism, using fire, the internet, logic, evolution, fermentation, the invention of the submarine, the Flint, Michigan Mega Bowl — the list can go on and on. Conversely, when those same otherworldly chroniclers are given the less exhilarating task of coming up with the worst ideas us earthlings ever thought up, there will be a unanimous consensus: Dry January.

This hot fad has become quite the rage. All the cool kids are doing it. What a boring generation we are. Our cool trend is abstinence. Wayne Wheeler, former leader of the Anti-Saloon League and mastermind behind prohibition and its enshrinement into law via the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (which went into effect 104 years ago next Tuesday — thanks, “This Week In History”), would be so proud. I can see him smiling down on us now.

I understand the reasoning behind it, and I agree that it all makes sense — obviously, I am currently participating. But I still think it’s moronic! The biggest issue for me has to be the timing. When it is cold and crappy out, there are few things better than cuddling up with a nice bottle of red. Why don’t we do this when it might be a little bit easier? How about when we are able to get outside and enjoy ourselves? I guess if that idea came to fruition, I would be complaining about how there is nothing better than lounging in a beach chair with a cold bottle of beer. But, if you are going to make it a winter activity, at least choose February and you’ll be saving us a few days of torture!

Dry January is apparently a trademarked organization that was started by someone out of Huntington, NY — shame on you, Huntington! — and was the idea of an English woman. (Silly English!) But there is also an interesting little story that the tradition has deeper roots that date back to Finland in World War II. In 1942, the Finnish government, who was aligned with the Germans but not formally an Axis member, asked their countrymen to abscond alcohol for the month of January as they conserved resources in their fight against the Soviet Union. Hitler should’ve known he was screwed right then and there!

Is it getting late? Nope! I am just closing in on 7 p.m. as I write this and, to me, it feels like it’s 2 a.m. This is what Dry January does to me. In reality, I’m all talk. If I was a man of conviction, I would not be participating in this charade. But here I am, happily complying like a good little sheep. Just another cog in the Dry January wheel. Shame on me. I hope you had a fun weekend … I didn’t.

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