Chrislip and Alcohol: A Love Story
Chrislip is a town that likes its booze. The tradition goes way back. It’s said that our founder, Otto Von Chrislip, accidentally drafted the town charter while trying to figure out an installment plan for his bar tab. Then there were the 19th century lumberjacks who rip-roared into town every Friday night to enjoy banana daiquiris at the Hard Times saloon.
As much as Otto and the ‘jacks did to popularize drinking, it was Ed Monkhouse who took it to the next level in the 1950s. Ed was a modest drinker, like most men in Chrislip. His wife kept him on a short leash, allowing him “cocktails after work.” This was understood to mean two drinks in the pre-dinner hour. Then one Saturday morning Ed was in his garage workshop. He sat down to have a cigarette, and, like Buddha under the Bodhi tree, reached enlightenment. Not only did “cocktails” cease to necessarily mean two, but “after work” at once became loosed from its concrete meaning in his mind. When, really, was “after work”? When you looked at it peripherally rather than literally, it lost its fixed focal point and began to wander. Just as any time was “before work,” any time was “after work.” Nine AM was after work.
It was a new Ed who walked into town that morning. A citizen met him on the sidewalk, and, noticing the otherworldly glow about him, asked, “Are you a god, sir?”
“No,” replied Ed. “I am drunk.”
The heyday of Chrislip drunkenness reached its crescendo in the late ’60s, but the love affair continues even now. By and large, the city has abandoned efforts to curb drunkenness and has instead opted for damage control. We have officially changed the name of Switzer Street to “Shwitzer Shtreet,” because that’s how locals tend to pronounce it to visitors seeking directions.
And while other towns caution its citizens “Don’t drink and drive,” our motto is “Don’t drink and drive on the wrong side of the road.” That funny broken white line is there for a reason. We drive on the right side in the U.S.. If you want to drive on the left, save it for your next trip to Canada. They drive on the right up there, too, but if you’re going to cause an accident, we’d rather it wasn’t here.
Tourist season is just around the corner, so the usual requests go out from city hall to our citizens. Don’t spit on people when you talk to them. Don’t leave the house with your underwear on outside your pants. Most importantly, squinting owlishly and snarling, “What’s so great about you?” is not an appropriate response when a stranger makes an inquiry about our town.
With a little self-control, we can make this year’s tourist season just as successful as last year’s. I guess. Who can remember?