The Terrible Morning Metaphor: Rivera Walked Into A Bar

Apocryphal photograph of Ron Rivera after he walked into the bar. - James Adams

Stop me if you've heard this one. . .

Ron Rivera walked into a bar. This much is probably true. Accounts differ on how he got there and who he was with, but he was most likely in or within the vicinity of a bar. One of the few things known for certain was his drink. Scotch on the rocks. However, it wasn’t the scotch or the rocks your grandpa ordered.

Some say he was trying to escape a hard day’s work into the arms of a familiar woman of a bottle that could soothe any man’s mind. Some say he was avoiding the top shelf at the insistence of his omnipresent and nagging new wife. All say that he didn’t order his drink so much as mumble it through a mouth full of ice. He apparently pulled a dirty glass and a dirtier bottle out of his coat and spat the ice in his mouth into the glass and poured a few fingers in. After he put the bottle back on the table, patrons at the other tables could read the strange label: SHULA.

It was a bottle that looked like scotch but was actually some English swill. A bottle that most people hadn’t made the mistake of touching since their freshman year in college; one they bought because it was technically alcohol and not because it pretended to be anything else. Their minds churned like their stomachs at the memories. Churned like the waves of a choppy sea. A well captained ship can navigate even a fierce storm. The British used to make good captains, but that was almost a generation ago. When you don’t pay top dollar to hire the best seaman and your ship hits a storm as it is leaving port, what do you get?

You get a Scotch captain on the rocks.

Maybe Rivera was more savvy than we knew. Maybe he had the inside scoop after a close association with the company and knew that Shula was putting out an excellent product this year. Finely aged in the most forgotten of barrels, this well-aged liquor could have been, and still could be, a rare treat for the refined palette. Perhaps it could be not as offensive as the patrons thought, patrons who could perhaps be better defined as spectators at this point. Fans, if you will.

Even if it were the case that our brave Rivera was championing the unseen star, heralding the untold king, there was still grave concern in the hearts of his audience. For you see, what you get with scotch on the rocks is simply watered down scotch. True lovers of the game of liquor find this as offensive as anything else. Perhaps that was our hero’s intention, but who are we to speculate?

Now we must step back into the realm of guessery and third hand accounts of our growing legend. There are tales that the first sip of this self-concocted beverage was rough, causing Rivera to snort and to cough. Other stories tell of an old friend patting Rivera on the back just as he was finishing his first gulp. The myth is muddied further by accounts of Rivera accidentally swallowing a fly as he drained his first glass. No man swallows unexpected insects with dignity.

So here we are today, just walking into the bar. Crowds surround Rivera, eyeing him and ignoring him in equal measure. He is about to take his second drink, one which we will share with him in our hearts. With liquor in his blood and a dumpster fire in his belly, Rivera looks ready for his second drink. The question at the bottom of all our bottles is how will he take it?

The first drink can certainly loosen a man up and get him ready for the second. Rivera still has that bottle of Shula on the table. Going back to that for the second drink would be like trying to play the Buffalo Bills for your second drink. It’s still early in the drinking season, you aren’t familiar with this particular team)and so you don’t know exactly how it is going to hit you. It is new enough to try to push either the run or the pass without surprising you, but what your liver gets to handle depends on what you put in your stomach, and Ron doesn't look like he was watching his diet that closely last week. He can guess based on the tolerance of previous drinkers if he has film on them and their facial expressions while drinking. Rivera also has to be aware of the growing crowd. They could be his friends or witnesses, maybe both, by the end of that next drink. The man is under a lot of pressure facing an event with little precedent.

The one thing I do know for certain is that, regardless of how he approaches the rest of the drinking season tonight or tomorrow, he has to do it with confidence and flexibility. Sipping on a glass of Shula didn’t seem to be a winning strategy for that last drink. Maybe he should start taking shots of it. Maybe he should start mixing it with exotic liqueurs or even name brand sodas. Maybe he should get a differently shaped glass to change how the nose, which while strong to the point of being overpowering is still considered present and important in liquor, affects his pre-gaming game plan.

My advice is the same advice of every college student/recent college grad: Take a shot. If you have something that doesn’t taste good enough to show off then you should get rid of it efficiently.

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