Coping: A drunk and lecherous vegan hipster killed my summer buzz

Whiling away a sunny Sunday afternoon in a beer garden made me despair of drunkenness

Photograph: iStock

Photograph: iStock

 

We’ve had a glimpse of some truly great weather since “summer” (if you’ll permit the indulgence) “began” (that’s Irish for came and very quickly went away again).

It was the sort of weather that causes the world to relax, open like a fist, and release a cheeping, screeching, softly blooming cacophony of new life. The air was thick as a warm liquid with the honeyed scent of pollen, grass was suddenly shin-high and rustling with secrets, and, as per usual, next door’s cat – which we have named Susan, since we don’t know her name, was yowling urgently under our bedroom window until someone came out to pet her.

Like all Irish people, in the two-day period after the sunny weather appears but before we start complaining that in fact really it’s too hot and we aren’t designed for this sort of lark at all, I tried to make the most of it.

I ended up sitting in a beer garden, which is unusual. As a teetotaller, I usually conduct my business away from pubs, but some friends were going and I found my old sun hat squashed under a shoebox in the wardrobe. It would be nice to be in the sun, I thought, rubbing suncream behind my ears with furious diligence. As I sat there, with the brim of my hat at an offensively jaunty angle at about 3pm on a Sunday, a very large and woolly bee laboured by, buzzing like a washing machine on a spin cycle, and settled next to me on the red bench where I was sitting. The moment was idyllic. The bee looked regal, I thought, noble. He squatted by me on the bench, trying vainly to find some source of nectar. I was just in the process of naming the bee Harold when a drunk man reeled over and sat on him. I heard Harold’s rotund little body firmly squish under the man’s clumsy weight, and despaired of drunkenness.

I stared malevolently at the back of the man’s head as he prattled on at a wholly uninterested girl about how important his veganism was to him. “That’s why I love this pub so much,” he said. “I can enjoy a beer without compromising the principles that are so important to me.” By this time, he was looking rather carnivorously down the girl’s top, and as he shifted again in his seat, I could see Harold’s remains streaked up the back of his shorts like a small but obvious poo stain.

Harold deserved a better end than the literal end of an incredibly self-absorbed and rather drunk vegan hipster.

Hip, sober Nietzsche

It made me think of Nietzsche – another hipster, and just as lecherous (the guy was touching the girl’s knee now; she looked uncomfortable), but not vegan and certainly less of a twit. When he went on holiday in 1871 with his sister, the hotel bill for the week shows Nietzsche enjoyed 14 glasses of milk. He considered alcohol to be an act of aversion: a way of avoiding life’s discomfort and unhappiness that ultimately made people sad anyway.

Nietzsche was not one for avoiding difficulty. He believed doing so was a way of missing out on much of the important substance of life, and preventing self-development. He loathed the German culture of drinking until drunkenness, and believed drinking excessively in a social setting dooms any conversation to meaninglessness. He found excessive drinking to be a sure way of stymieing personal development. Given the man next to me was now talking at the girl about the fact he thought collecting honey was cruelty to bees – all the while with the squashed remnants of Harold mashed into the seat of his trousers – I tended to agree with Nietzsche.

The conversation moved on somewhat. “Really, I’d consider myself a feminist,” he slurred at the girl, who now looked alarmed. I got up, turned to her and said in a very deliberate tone, “Excuse me. Do you know where the loo is?” She leapt up. “Yes. Yes, I’ll show you!” I turned to the man, and said politely, “You have a mashed bumblebee on your arse.”

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