The 8 Proper Properties of Business Booze
Friday, Apr. 25, 2008 at 10:43am
We're all drinking a lot less for business reasons now, because... well, I don't really know why. We just are. You go to lunch and a proud phalanx of sparkling water bottles festoons the room, and everybody is munching on salads like giraffes. This is sad for two reasons. First, sobriety is not a congenial condition in which to do serious business, and second, this leaves far more drinking to be done on personal time. As far as I'm concerned, this is ass-backwards. There are solid reasons why the majority of imbibing should be done on company time.
Here, in my view, are the excellent functions alcohol provides within a business context:
- Grease the wheels: It is a well-known fact that growth rates have plummeted since we all stopped drinking at meals, particularly breakfast and lunch. In the 1980s, many a fine deal was hammered out while we were.
- Builds friendships that last a lifetime: How many of us are really interested in the stuff that our peers are involved in? My pal builds boats. Do I care about boats? I assure you I don't. I, on the other hand, collect ancient guitars that once sold in Montgomery-Ward for $2.99. Does he have the slightest interest in that? But put us together with a couple of beers, three or four scotches and a few after dinner drinks and I assure you we love each other, and have for almost 20 years now.
- Makes golf possible: Think of what that stupid game would be like if we didn't have booze before, during and after it?
- Meeting facilitator: Okay, you don't need a couple of stiff ones to survive a two-hour meeting with PowerPoint. But these all-day things they put us through a couple of times a year at least, or the annual squeeze-fest with 300 senior managers in Boca? Without booze? You sit in those things and the martini in your mind coalesces at about 10 AM and stays there all day, a beacon of hope amid the gloom and forced collegiality.
- All-purpose topic of conversation: The tedious things that business people talk about! Lord! Interest rates! GAAP. Monetizing prospective revenue streams! Phooey! But when the conversation moves around to wine? Or single malt scotches? Or what booze goes well with mongoosse? Everybody's an expert in one way or another, and even those who are not can quietly watch the blowhards blow while tending to an aggressive cab with a big nose and huge shoulders.
- Anesthetic: As we get on in years, or engage in sports no human was ever meant to pursue, our bodies begin to attack us. Shoulders ache from improper employment of a 9-iron. Elbows throb from repetitive tennis activity. Me, I've been wracked with some kind of back pain brought on by over-use of my mouse. You could take percodan and blow up like the Hindenburg, like Jerry Lewis did, or blow your mind on other crazy substances now popular in Los Angeles, but a warm glass of gin never met an ailment it couldn't soothe. A few weeks ago, a small flagon of warm port cured my flu. I report that fact now in hopes it will be picked up by medical authorities and pursued with responsible vigor.
- Sleeping potion: Right after that, I fell asleep, by the way. True, those who use booze for this purpose are likely to awaken at 3 AM when its effects wear off. This is different than the usual waking at 3 AM, which I do every night anyway. In the latter case, it's harder to fall back asleep.
- Excuse: You can't do it too often, of course. You get a reputation for yourself that can make people doubt your stamina and probity. Unless, of course, it's a recourse shared by your entire corporate culture. Which is probably why I miss all the guys I came up with at Westinghouse.
Hi, guys! Remember the good old days? On second thought, I bet you don't!