Day 73: Crazy Uncle Dave’s Temperance Letter

originally published March 13, 2012

Dear Marty,

As your “crazy hip uncle”, I feel that I should reach out to you. You are at a crucial age, one where you’ll be faced with a lot of choices about how to live your life. Some of those choices may offer you a better path than others. I only ask that, when it comes time to really measure how well you’ve chosen to spend your days and nights, that you consider this one word:


Teetotalism has nothing to do with drinking tea. It’s all about complete abstinence from drinking alcohol. Hey, I practice teetotalism and I’m still your “crazy, hip uncle”, am I right? Now you may be asking yourself, why would I want to choose this way of life? What fun is that?

Why, it’s a mess of fun. Let me tell you how the term got its name.

Some people believe it goes back to the Preston Temperance Movement in 1832 or 1833. These wacky folks followed Joseph Livesey, an English politician, writer, and shiny-forehead guy.

Joseph was big into the temperance movement, a formal gathering of like-minded people who knew all about the evils and perils of drinking, and tried to help their friends and neighbors see their perspective, mostly through strict government legislation and public humiliation. His friend Dicky Turner gave a speech once and told the crowd that “nothing would do but tee-tee-total abstinence.” You see, Dicky had a stammer. The expression caught on, and ‘teetotalism’ came to mean the complete absence of alcohol. So there you are – having a laugh at people with speech impediments is much more fun than drinking!

Anyway, Joseph had a pledge, one I think you should learn:

“We agree to abstain from all liquors of an intoxicating quality whether ale, porter, wine or ardent spirits, except as medicine.”

You and your friends can have fun adding liquor types to that pledge, then reciting it yourselves, perhaps outside of bars in order to set an example. You’d be surprised at the folks you’ll meet that way!

The folks inside will be so excited to hear about your lifestyle choice!

Once you’ve embraced teetotalism, you’ll probably want some celebrities you can look up to. I mean, your crazy ol’ uncle is pretty cool and everything, but your friends don’t know me. They probably know James Hetfield though! The singer for Metallica! He’s a teetotaler. Here are a few more I found on that Wikipedia site you told me you use for all your school research!

Bruce Willis. He gave up those Seagram’s Golden Wine Coolers back when he stopped getting paid to sing about them on fire escapes.

Daniel Radcliffe. Of course, he has access to those crazy potions. Ha ha. Maybe he doesn’t drink because Gary Oldman, who played Harry Potter’s uncle, doesn’t drink either! Wow! Look at the cool people you’ll be hanging out with!

Andy Reid, the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Although, he eats. A lot.

Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I think maybe he used to do some drugs before, but he doesn’t now, and that’s all that matters.

Samuel L. Jackson. You see? Your crazy uncle is JUST LIKE SAMUEL L. JACKSON!

Ken Jennings, that guy who won all that money on Jeopardy!. Of course he’s a Mormon, and I think they cut your toes off if you drink or something.

Kathy Griffin, actress and comedienne. Ironically, most people have to consume a lot of alcohol just to tolerate Kathy Griffin, so maybe she’s a bad example.

Dane Cook, another comedian. See above.

Tobey Maguire. Spiderman doesn’t drink! Why on earth would you want to do something that Spiderman would never do?

Ewan McGregor. You don’t have to consume intoxicating substances in order to realistically portray a heroin junkie crawling out of a toilet.

Natalie Portman. She, Ewan and Samuel L. probably spent a lot of great times together on the set of those Star Wars movies, being sober and laughing at how lucky they were to be sharing the screen with Hayden Christenson.

George W. Bush. He quit drinking when alcohol started to “compete with his energy.” And he’s a hero to hundreds!

Vladimir Putin. He’s in charge of Russia. Russia! I think drinking vodka is the law in Russia, and Putin doesn’t do it. Who needs peer pressure?

Tom Cruise. Although given his rank in the Scientology church, I believe he is allowed to consume a top-secret cocktail made from the crushed fetuses of alien beings, so maybe he shouldn’t be on this list.

John Travolta. See above.

Russell Brand. He’s a sex addict though, so I guess he doesn’t have to drink.

Stephen King. Goes to show, you don’t need alcohol to come up with some freakish, horrific and insane ideas.

Frank Zappa. He’s probably the greatest in history at fooling people into thinking he was on drugs all of the time.

Dee Snider. I think he used to drink in the 1980s. Looking at pictures of him, I really, really hope he used to drink in the 1980s.

Gerard Way. He’s in that group My Chemical Romance. Don’t all you kids listen to that punk rock ‘n roll group? I’m sure you do.

If not, you probably listen to Coldplay. Guess what? Chris Martin, that girl who sings for them, she doesn’t drink either!

How about Abe Lincoln? Everyone loves Abe Lincoln. When asked by a little girl why he doesn’t drink, Abe famously replied, “Long enough to reach the ground.” Come to think of it, he may have been doing other drugs back then.

John Coltrane. He quit drinking and all drugs. Then he died of liver cancer. So maybe his timing wasn’t ideal.

Prince. A great example of how alcohol is not necessary if you want to live the life of the completely insane. And funky!

Fred Rogers. This one probably doesn’t surprise you. I don’t think Fred was ever really a wild motherfucker.

So you see? Your crazy old uncle isn’t really so crazy! You can still be a “fun guy” and “let loose” at “parties” without drinking yourself silly. All you need is some strong family support, a lack of shame at ordering a virgin appletini (they really are quite marvelous!), and some patience and self-control.

Also, I recommend a prostitute every weekend, at least. I’ll give you a few phone numbers. I’ll write to you again later – got to go take my ‘medicine’!

With love,

Crazy Uncle Dave

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