Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Annual Meeting of the Guttwrencher Institute for Intoxication Planning. What a lovely banquet. I can’t remember all of it, but the parts I do remember were lovely [laughter] Before I introduce our distinguished speaker, allow me to offer a few words about the great event we cerebrate tonight.
My friends, this is the fiftieth anniversary of the development of the hypermetabolic drunkenness control pill. It may be difficult for the younger members of the Institute to imagine what the world was like in the dangerous, early years of the century, before science had developed safe and effective means of controlling elevation. Before that, there was nothing but abstinence and coffee.
Abstinence – actually, bibentes interruptae, since very few people were ever teetotalers -- was never more than a method for exerting moral and political control over a repressed population. After all, what is liberty, if not liberty to indulge? Coffee was not only ineffective – since a wide-awake drunk is still drunk – but prohibitively expensive, especially for the poor. The power and might of the great coffee conglomerates, such as Starbucks/Seattle’s Best, had already pushed the cost of a cup of this crude prophylactic beverage to levels which kept stoned persons of modest means from getting the help they needed to regulate and schedule their highs.
With the appearance on the market of the hypermetabolic drunkenness control capsule, or Miracle Pill, all this was changed. Science has shown that we are animals. It is only natural to desire not to think clearly. Now we no longer needed to. Overnight, the age-old tyranny of continuous self-control was swept away. Now one could become just as bashed, buzzed, tanked, crocked, plastered, potted, or wasted as one chose – swallow a pill – and within sixty seconds be perfectly sober. Sober enough to direct air traffic. Sober enough to operate heavy equipment. Sober enough to monitor nuclear defense. Sober enough for anything.
We now realize that the invention of the Miracle Pill came in the nick of time. Little did we know it then, but the worn-out old culture of abstinence had long been approaching its disintegration. The wave of destruction was at hand. It was already bending over, preparing to crash on our heads.
Yes, within two years after the pill was introduced, statisticians reported a nationwide rise in the incidence of drunken domestic violence. Within four years, highway accidents due to intoxication had become so common that ordinances were passed requiring drivers to pull over for sobriety checks every five miles. Within six, the rate of alcohol-related illnesses began a precipitous rise which has not to this day abated; 40.7 percent of the population now suffers cirrhosis of the liver. In some ethnic and racial groups the rate is even higher.
When I reflect how much worse all these social calamities might have been had the Miracle Pill not been invented when it was, I tremble.
Yet for years, the nation refused to awaken to its danger. Not until the Great Drunken Joke of 2034, when several of our municipalities, including Washington, D.C., were destroyed by accidental nuclear exchanges, did the friends of the Institute find it possible to persuade Congress, that is, the surviving members of Congress, to institute universal free distribution of hypermetabolic drunkenness control capsules, and to implement mandatory Safe Stoning Education in the nation’s schools.
So much remains to be done. Things are still getting worse. Yet now there is hope.
I know you are fractious – anxious -- to begin your dissipation, and I see that our extinguished -- our distinguished speaker has already begun [laughter]. Far me it from be -- far be it from me -- to delay his remarks. Indeed, it would be unwise for me to do so, for then he might not be able to deliver them at all [laughter]. Please join me in welcoming the inventor of the hypermetabolic drunkenness control capsule himself, whose name – whose name – whose name will come to me if I just sit here for a few moments.