Readers Write: The Darker Side of Bars

The Island Now

Re: “Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” Douglas Parker. Mr. Parker, if the neighborhood bar gives you comfort and solace I’m happy for your sake. I agree it has been a very long winter and while things are not back to normal they seem to be getting there. But there is darker side to the neighborhood bar: alcoholism and DWI.
Yankee great Mickey Mantle died of lung cancer. His liver became cancerous from all the drinking he did, and it spread to his lungs. Yankee manager Billy Martin was hosed off the dashboard of his truck dead; it’s certain to a reasonable degree that his friend, who was driving, was too drunk to drive.
The costs of those arrested for drunk driving are staggering. I drive part time for Uber. Several years ago I picked up a passenger from Bayside area and took him to the Sayville area. He had just been arrested for DWI; ironically five years earlier he would have been at the limit. He spent almost 24 hours in the jug before his sister bailed him out, he had to spend $10,000 to retain a lawyer, he had his first of many court appearances coming up, and his car was impounded. A close family member on the way to rehab in Florida collapsed at the airport because of detoxifying from alcohol cold turkey. A close friend whose strongest drink now is Starbucks Coffee had throat cancer caused partly by alcoholism; thank goodness he is fine today. I myself had my flirtations with alcoholism, although I, fortunately, got my grip on the bottle before it got its grip on me.
A great line about bars came from the sitcom “Cheers.” Diane, Sam the bartender-owner’s on again off again flame and a waitress told the patron Norm about all of Boston’s cultural attractions. Norm replied, “and here I sit, a beer-guzzling lump.” Diane replied, “sad, isn’t it?” To which Norm replied, “but no one is forcing them to go.”
I think Prohibition was the biggest failed social experiment in our history. While I’m a decades-long teetotaler I don’t look down through my nose at again who patronizes a neighborhood bar. But Mr. Parker, there is another side to the warm, fuzzy feeling a bar gives you.

Nat Weiner

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