Just One Drink A Night? ‘Fake Study!’ I Say
By Denny Bonavita
Let’s not talk about whether to drink alcoholic beverages. Let’s consider instead how much is too much.
Men are now told to limit ourselves to one alcoholic drink per day, according to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
One drink usually does not kick us into the pleasantly relaxing state enjoyed by those of us who drink but don’t get drunk.
So I asked myself: Should I limit myself?
The answer came back: “Dummy, you already limit yourself that way!” I usually have about six ounces of red pinot noir while I read before bedtime. “Pinot noir” gives off connotations of being a wine snob. Hardly. I buy what is on sale, usually less than $10 a bottle. Do I have more than that to drink? Maybe four times a year, at most.
Who wrote the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans?
“A committee of experts” is how The Associated Press described the authors.
These “experts” did a “study.” To borrow a phrase from President Trump, the “study” strikes me as “Fake Study!” not rigorously structured project involving a statistically valid population sample.
I am no “expert.” But I do have some credentials. One is about seven decades of experience.
I have been drinking alcoholic beverages since … before I can remember.
We ate Sunday dinners often at my Italian immigrant grandparents’ homes in the 1940s. They considered milk fit only for cows. They had a long-justified fear of drinking Water had been badly polluted in the Apennine mountain ranges in Italy.
We children drank watered-down wine, but still, it was wine.
Children were invited to take part in the conversations – respectfully.
“Respect” did not mean sitting quietly until there was a pause in the flow of words. Pauses only occurred when steam locomotives growled along the Pennsylvania Railroad yard behind the house.
Apart from that, we all talked.
But there were limits.
On one occasion, I blurted out something inappropriate enough to focus attention on me, unpleasantly.
I was seated next to Uncle Tony. Dad was across the table, out of reach of me. Uncle Tony was within reach.
The brothers exchanged a glance. Dad nodded.
I caught Uncle Tony’s backhanded slap, mostly on a shoulder but stinging a cheek, too. I flopped backward out of the chair and rolled, bumping my head against the heavy steel leg of the wood-fired cooking stove.
Uncle Tony looked around, his voice muffled by a mouthful of chicken.
“Ya learn somethin’?” he mumbled, in a soft, conversational tone.
Whining, I nodded.
“When you stop crying, come on back up here and finish eating,” he said. His voice was not even raised. Nobody else seemed to be much concerned.
That is how I learned to limit my drinking, not to two drinks or one drink, but keeping it below a level that would prompt me to say something inappropriate – and get whapped.
By today’s standards, that was child abuse, cruelty, even brutality.
But it worked, and did no lasting harm.
So when, last month, I read the news story about one drink, I mouthed my old one-word standby: “Hogwash!”
The “study” consisted of “a review of the literature,” which yielded “links” between drinking habits and all causes of death, conveniently ignoring the reality that, sooner or later, we all die.
To me, a “study” is a double-blind, peer-reviewed, rigorously sampled analysis of an experiment that usually takes months or years, something like the “studies” that are now occurring with regard to a possible vaccine against the COVID virus.
The news story, to the reporter’s credit, also said, “Such observational studies … do not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.”
Well, then, what good are they? The answer was, “Experts use them to give guidance.”
Hah. This hogwash (in my opinion) gives “guidance” that conforms to what some “Big Brother” proponents think the “little people” (us) need to do because “Big Brother” knows best.
I do not advocate getting drunk, or even half-drunk. Been there. Done that. Got sick. Damaged my health. Acted like an ass. Looking back, I am amazed that I am still alive, and almost tearfully grateful that my drunken self did not kill or cripple anyone.
Here is the giveaway: “The guidelines may be aspirational but are important for stimulating thought around behavior change.”
Could be valid; could not be. Are their Martians on Mars? Same degree of accuracy, I think.
I have my one six-ounce glass of red wine during most evenings. In hot weather, a cold beer tastes good. Sometimes, two taste better. Three? If I even uncap a third bottle, at least half of it sits unconsumed until it goes flat.
“Dirty Harry” Callahan, Clint Eastwood’s mythic movie character, said it best: “A man’s got to know his limitations.”
One drink per evening might be one man’s limitations. Or maybe not. Any regular drinker knows the limits. To our national sorrow, too many of us ignore what we know. But we don’t need “fake studies” to guide us.
¯ ¯ ¯
Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: email@example.com.