Friday, April 23, 2010

The Civilizing Effects of Beer

**Editor's Note** I'm all about recycling, so here is the first post I ever published.

"Enkidu, a shaggy, unkempt, almost bestial primitive man, who ate grass and could milk wild animals, wanted to test his strength against Gilgamesh, the demigod-like sovereign. Taking no chances, Gilgamesh sent a (prostitute) to Enkidu to learn of his strengths and weaknesses. Enkidu enjoyed a week with her, during which she taught him of civilization. Enkidu knew not what bread was nor how one ate it. He had also not learned to drink beer. The (prostitute) opened her mouth and spoke to Enkidu: 'Eat the bread now, O Enkidu, as it belongs to life. Drink also beer, as it is the custom of the land.' Enkidu drank seven cups of beer and his heart soared. In this condition he washed himself and became a human being. "

From the epic Sumerian tale of Gilgamesh, circa 3rd millennium, B.C.

Let us, for a moment, take a look at this ancient story from before the advent of the written word, Dear beer lovers. After reading this, and mind you, this is just me talking here, but it only took beer and prostitutes to civilize this poor, backward creature of Enkidu. Wow! And all this time I have been grossly mistaken as to what it takes to create a civilization.

I mean really, Enkidu must have been a mess when this unknown prostitute (let’s call her Trixie) found him in the wild, living on grass and the milk of whatever he could catch. This sounds like some nightmarish celebrity diet that would be recommended in the tabloids.


But, in spite of his appearance, cause he had to be one ripe and awful looking chump, Trixie agrees to give old Enkidu a whirl ‘cause she has a code of honor to live up to, like Angel-eyes from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. (“When I get paid, I always see the job through.”) Not only does she give him a whirl, but more than one apparently, she stayed for a week, and taught him the ways of the “civilized” world. You got to admire the girl’s grit. Would you take a scabby, homeless man to bed for money then stay for a week to teach him which was the salad fork, to not fart at the table, and what opera was all about? I know. Me neither. Could this be the first appearance of the stock character, the whore with a heart of gold? Perhaps.

But let us delve a little deeper into Enkidu. This guy may have been raised by wolves/badgers/or gorillas in the mist (not very likely ‘cause how would he have learned to milk wild animals from them) but he listens to Trixie and takes her advice to heart. She gives him a slice of toast and some beer, (well, not just some beer, it takes more than a six pack,) but suddenly his heart soars and he realizes what a wretch he has been up to this point. He goes from smelly, crazed, grass-eating hermit dairy farmer to strong, enlightened man about town. Not only that, but I’m certain that she probably had to give a crash course in the birds and bees department. (I’m sure that little tidbit of info was not a hard lesson to sell. I mean, come on, he has been alone a long time and how has he spent his time? Milking the beasts of the wild. He probably started by trying to milk her. She would then give him some step-by-step instructions using a stick to draw in the sand. Hey, that’s how I learned. What? Didn’t everyone?)

So now we have this new and improved Enkidu, transformed by a sandwich and a couple of 40’s, and what does he do with this new insight? He hops into the bath and becomes a human being. Why, you might ask, is his conversion from wild man to a suave Beau Brummel so complete? Well, isn’t it obvious? He did it all for the nookie and the beer. The same reason that so many young men leave the life of carefree bachelor for the warm, comfortable existence of married life.

Dear and Gentle Reader, make no mistake, the civilizations of past and present were not built for the purposes of mutual protection, economic growth, a reliable food source, a stable system of justice, and the furthering of the species. No, you poor misinformed fool. Throw out these textbook answers that were handed to you, enmasse, by your world history teachers and step into the light of knowledge. Go on. It won’t hurt. Civilization was founded on the premise of securing the steady supply of beer and nookie. Face it, if there was no beer and no nookie, we would all be wearing plaid shirts and khakis, and beating animals and each other with sticks. Look into your own heart and tell me it ain’t so.

I know I will not garner the esteem and respect of the learned academic community by committing this to paper, or most women for that matter, but your average man-in-the-street would at least give this theory a grudging acceptance. Let’s face it Gentlemen, women are truly the civilizing influence in society and beer is the wonderful elixir that helps to temper our more base impulses. Would Hitler have been the world-menacing tyrant that he was if his buddies had bought him a few rounds of bock and turned him loose with the St. Paulies Girl? (Lets face it men, that girl is stacked!) Would Napoleon have brought the western world into a smoking ruin with his French war-machine if Josephine had merely taken the brandy from his hand and replaced it with a cold Corona beer w/ lime and set out some decent nachos for a long weekend of getting his freak on? Would the Roman Empire still stand today if Caesar had a couple of frosty Coors to hand around to Brutus and company before they slipped off to the temple of Bacchus for the mid-March orgy? Could Moses have gotten the children of Israel out of Egypt, without all of the first-born son stuff, if he and Pharaoh had hashed things out over a couple of Guinness’s and gone on a double date with some nice Jewish girls?

The world will never know for sure, but I’d like to think that, perhaps, with a little bit more affection and maybe some cold frosty ones,We, as a species, could overcome our differences, put down our weapons of war, and live in peaceful harmony, and get down to the truly important problems of the world: hunger, poverty, ignorance, and how to make a good beer that does not compel you to do stupid things and have to pee a lot.



  1. You know, I've always had a sinking feeling that History was being presented in a far overly complicated manner. Now I KNOW that I am completely right. Hell, i was right all along, I just didn't know it! I love it when someone else comes along and confirms my reality!!

  2. Oh, good, kind Doc, thee who has no doubt gone over to Lee-Chong's grocery on many occasion for a few quarts of beer thinself, you have turned your glance to the sweeping ages of History and found therein what historians have missed for many, many a moon. You have applied your laserlike intellect to the beginnings of time and found, as we have secretly heretofore suspected, that it really DOES have to do with zymurgical processes. If life did indeed spring from single-cells, perhaps it wasn't the lowly amoeba, perhaps it was the industrious and helpful YEAST.

  3. now that I thunk about it, you've traced beer to the dawn of civilization, where I merely have babbled at length about hats and empty cans. I can't tell if this makes us a good match for S.Z., or if I'm just overly focused on the minutiae. I stand in your shadow, good sir, furiously scribbling notes on my lil' steno pad (Gregg Ruled, whatever the hell THAT means) in the vague hopes that one day, I too shall be able to write like y'all.

  4. Write POETRY about beer!!

  5. That's funny, I don't remember it that way AT ALL... Maybe i'm getting old and me memory's going...

  6. If You please, Dear and Gentle Reader, do be kind to me for this post. I have thought long, hard and repeatedly on this and I think it is the, bar none, best thing I have EVER written.

  7. I thunk it is! I think you should pack it off and send it to Maxim!!

  8. "Let’s face it Gentlemen, women are truly the civilizing influence in society and beer is the wonderful elixir that helps to temper our more base impulses"

    As a beer drinking female - I think that means I have all the answers! ( ;-p) )

    Mind you - depends on the beer. We CAMRA ladettes have varied tastes, but anything above 7% ABV will probably leave me comatose fairly quickly. ;-)

  9. I missed this the first time around, probably because I had not begun to read your fine electronic journal.

    Thanks for the repeat performance!

  10. I've been to sporting events, concerts and through the streets of Cleveland after the St. Patrick's Day parade. I didn't notice much civilizing behavior. The magical herb on the other hand, now that's a peacekeeping force.


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