‘Busy Bar’ — Norman Cornish

“Your people don’t drink, they get drunk”
- A.O.

Scientists and doctors of all specialisations had been invited to the event. They met for the purpose of discussing issues of social relevance. They dedicated a full day to the problem of alcoholism. Interesting lectures were given on the social aspects of alcoholism, round tables were held during which they discussed the creation of a liaison committee made up of a president, a vice-president, a secretary and an undersecretary who would be in charge of filing lawsuits against the media — to stop them accepting advertising space for alcoholic beverages. The members of the liaison committee came from the first or second world, but not from the third world — I could see that.

After the main work session and the round tables, the free work session began. They called a certain Dr. R., but Dr. R. did not answer. Suddenly a man of small proportions got up and walked hurriedly to the stage. He put his hand on the table, took the microphone, stared at the audience and said, “I have come to this meeting with a very definite objective.

“Believe me, it has not been easy for me to get here. For two years I had to save money… and I’d prefer not to tell you about the rest of the incidents. I am referring to other difficulties that I had to overcome — such as the envy of my colleagues — which resulted in not only a notable loss in weight, but also in size.

“I come from a small city. Or at least in my eyes it is very small, almost tiny. In other words — it is a town. The city is very beautiful — I would say magical — and it has a very peculiar characteristic: everyone who lives there hardly ever leaves it, and when they do, only a few minutes have passed when they are back. The city has an avenue that is long, very long — I would say infinite. In this infinite avenue, one in every four places is a bar.

“Another detail is that although its inhabitants complain that they are going through periods of crisis, in the bars, from Monday to Sunday, there are no free seats — and so one has to climb on the bar. Fortunately, the inhabitants are very nice and friendly, it is easy to feel at home. Of course, it is also possible that from time to time, if you ask the time of a simple passerby, he responds with a growl, a bark or some animal sound not readily identifiable by the auditory system of a human being.

“When I arrived in the city, I wanted to get in the mood and I visited a bar, I remember when I entered I saw a man who I later learned was called Mr. E. With him were other gentlemen, all quite similar to each other. He and his eight friends seemed to be having a very important and mysterious conversation as they spoke in very low tones. Happy, I went on to a gala party in a club — and there I noticed a great sociability. The men were in one corner and the women in another.

“Over the years, I have attended other bars and other parties in the city and I have observed exactly the same thing. The people have no alternative. Cultural activities are not promoted, sporting events are not promoted — they have no choice but to drink. The purpose of my presentation is to ask if you consider that — to some extent — the cult of alcohol that exists in my city is justifiable and understandable?”

They put the case to a vote and the decision was unanimous: Yes, the cult of alcohol was justifiable and understandable in this city. During the vote, some of the attendees cried, approached Dr. R. and offered him their deepest condolences for the drama his city was experiencing. When he left, they built a statue for him — in homage to his suffering and to his stature. They called it: “The Last Exponent.”

Psychiatrist & Writer — Writing and meditating at the intersection of psychiatry, philosophy, Buddhism and the arts. More information at www.lidaprypchan.com