Gerb de Column Writer: Intense drink

“After the first glass, you see things the way you want to see them. After the second glass you see things as they are not and after the third glass you see things as they really are and that is the most horrible thing of all.”

You may have read this quote from Oscar Wilde somewhere. He describes his experience of drinking absinthe. A strong alcoholic drink, briefly explained. So intense that it was even banned in our country in 1909. The Opium Act didn't even exist then, you can imagine. Absinthe would lead to madness. There is a substance in it that causes hallucinations. This in combination with an alcohol percentage up to 70%. One and one equals two shall we say. Museums are full of the effects of absinthe. Vincent van Gogh and Picasso drank the stuff regularly. All that yellow in Van Gogh's works is the result of the many absinthe hallucinations he had. Picasso also liked to paint under the influence of absinthe. Just look at some of his works. No, you're not seeing double, that's what he meant. The ban on absinthe was lifted in 2004. The government found that the drink no longer posed a threat to public health. At least, if you don't drink too much of it. But yes, of course that applies to all alcoholic drinks.

Why this story? I spoke to an acquaintance this week who had read some of my blogs. He asked me how it was going with the 'not drinking' and his comment afterwards really hit me: “I didn't know you had an alcohol problem, dude”, he said. In the three minutes after that I explained to him just as well that that is not the case and why I am not drinking for 40 days. He thought it was nonsense and remarked: "If you don't drink that much anyway, why are you participating in that action?" I soon noticed that I couldn't convince him after all and asked what he was going to do this weekend. "I'm going to an absinthe party." Then he was allowed to explain a few things to me in three minutes. I knew absinthe, but it seems that there is a whole ritual around drinking absinthe. Just like before the ban in 1909, the idea is that you put a spoonful of sugar on the glass and pour a little water over it. We know that again. “Space after three glasses,” he added to his explanation. I had to think about it all day. An absinthe party…

Yesterday I came across the above mentioned acquaintance in the supermarket. Of course I asked him how his party had been. He told me that he was brought home early by a friend because it was 'a little too fast'. “Last time I went to a party like that,” he said. Secretly I had to laugh, as he quickly walked into another aisle. On my way back home I thought; they didn't ban it for nothing in the past. Unfortunately, the planned fun evening of my acquaintance fell through the water. Luckily he still has both ears.


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