How lucky can you get? I'm cheap-the best value in town. I'm popular - I swear by my own name to make you self-assured, hip, and suave. You can purchase me in a six-pack at your nearest Wal-Mart, and you and two of your friends can chug-a-lug the likes of me in no time flat.
As the default option of an educated society I get a lot of good press, actually. I get the notoriety of those who consume me, mess up big-time, and beat the system. I get unparalleled publicity as the proud sponsor of major sporting events.
Here I am the poster-boy of pop-culture, the icon of smart advertising and the hero of every musical genre. Yet I am called a gateway drug to cocaine and methamphetamine. I'm cool in the can all right, but you blamed me because the coach kicked you off the football team.
Yet, you're the consumer. I'm merely your beverage of choice.
Take it from a drink like me - being an alcoholic beverage is a party that never really happens. For the moment I do offer my highs, my bubbly fizz, my mysterious buzz. I sparkle in the glass. I go down smoothly. But in the end what doesn't get thrown up in the toilet gets saved up for the liver.
The odds are that if we become good enough friends I will betray you. I will slur your speech and make you look like a fool. I will dull your brain and play havoc with your reaction time. I will drain your conscience of reason and make you do things you'd never consider in sobriety.
I am a bitter sermon swilled from a bottle. But God's Word is immortal: 'Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper' (Proverbs 23:31-32).
No, this is not an appeal from me as a popular beverage to be let off the hook. I myself am culpable. I alone can create a whirlwind of misery and sorrow. But it is an appeal to reason. I am guilty exclusively through abuse and misuse. I have earned a reputation as a beverage that consumes those who consume me.
So take it from a drink like me - you only think you can afford to consume me! Alas, moderation is the seductive charm to which my popularity is anchored, because my worst enemy - and your best friend - is the nearly lost relic of abstinence.
Jim Spruce is superintendent of the Illinois District.