In the early nineties, my best friends and I would drive from our hometown in Connecticut all over New England out to the Tri-State area, including Long Island, New York, New Jersey, and Philly. These were the days before cell phones, so one of us would be responsible for printing out the Yahoo Map to locate these WIFFLE BALL tournaments we would play in. More times than we could count, we would have the paper map resting on the dashboard and it would blow out the window. A look in the rear-view mirror revealed that it hopscotched down the highway. Often we’d get lost, relying on a gas station attendant for directions, forgetting we had a road atlas, or a AAA map tucked away in the glove compartment.
We were the Boondock Saints and after several years of struggling to win a major event, we slowly climbed the ranks, becoming a solid professional team, placing in the top three of most tournaments out of 70+ teams competing for cash prizes. And there was always one staple that prepared my friends and me for a life in college and in the military: beverages.
The staples of those WIFFLE BALL Tournaments were the amazing magic of a hot cup of coffee and a refreshing ice-cold beer. Our long drives to the tournaments would start with an initial coffee followed shortly after by another stop at Dunkin Donuts to grab another cup and a bagel right before game time. Our routines were deliberate and superstitious as we cemented in our days of baseball. Next flowed the beer. It was inclusive with the community of whifflers, and it was a great complement to those long summer days. Packing a cooler was a part of the field gear. Those not as familiar with coolers and grills would make a package store run for beverages, returning right before the playoff round. It was not uncommon for some teams to get lost at the local bar. For a decade we would run into a team appropriately named Free Beer, rotund and elder statesmen, their uniform was a frothy beer mug silk screened on a white undershirt. We would eventually face them in most play off/elimination rounds. Strategically, they shared free beer with their opponents. At the time the gesture was welcomed, and as time went on there was no doubt that it affected our style of play. Often, I reflect on these great memories as a lesson in temperance.
Those long summer days, parties with friends at Merrimack College, pub crawls in Boston and arranging private contractors to procure Jack Daniels in Iraq are long behind. Fruitless imbibing is gone. I will always make a clear intention to accept a free cup of coffee or a glass of beer from a friend. I accept because I know how much joy it brings the giver. A courtesy I often extend, because it brings warmth and has the ability to slow down time with friends. I also know to limit these opportunities in the name of health and wellbeing. As I age, I limit consumption. I drink beer every once in a great while. Coffee, black with a little cinnamon, is an everyday occurrence for me. My limit is two cups. More than that and it’s caffeine overload where anxiety and agitation set in. Surprising as it may be, those frequent beers are now replaced with a single whiskey neat. I enjoy that nightcap a few times a week. No more hangovers or adverse reactions from the heavy hops of micro-brews. Numerous studies report that whiskey has some great health benefits when enjoyed in moderation, an antiseptic of sorts.
Try adding coffee and whiskey to your daily routine. Remember, temperance is seen in the person who is mindful of their actions and moderation.