Rust Stains

Some little while ago now, I went on a bit of an adventure. The details will remain vague to avoid any trouble with any authority figures and so that I do not inadvertently encourage others to do anything that they ought not do. I must stress that I cannot advise that anybody attempt their own version of this particular adventure.

The adventure started, as most great adventures do, with alcohol. And a rather large amount of the stuff at that. I met up with two friends on a Friday evening. After a light repast and a few beers, we decided to drink our way down to the river. I say “drink our way” rather than “walk” because it was a very short walk that was punctuated by stopping at each of the several convenience stores on the way for beverages of a refreshing nature. When we got to the river, we found ourselves at the base of a bridge. Exploration and skylarkings naturally followed and in a few hours time, we had crossed the river in a most unconventional way. Highlights included an excellent view, an abandoned hardhat, and an awful fright courtesy of a police boat that we thought for sure had seen us.

What we had done, none of us would have done alone. It was also almost certainly illegal. We knew that we were in the wrong, and still we pursued our course. I cannot help but feel that it had a rather bonding effect, strengthening our friendship through a somewhat unorthodox trial. But can friendship really benefit from unvirtuous actions?

In his dialogue On Friendship, Cicero places the greatest emphasis on virtue and even claims the true friendship can only exist between men of great virtue. He admits that men of ordinary quality may experience ordinary friendship, but even then “if virtue be neglected, those who imagine themselves to possess friends will find out their error as soon as some grave disaster forces them to make trial of them.” I must reconcile Cicero’s opinion to my position in this way: it is unreasonable and immodest to expect to have friends who are significantly better than oneself, but friends of approximately equal virtue are adequately provided to assist one another in becoming better people. Our adventure together put us on a common level of virtue, now we can begin to build each other up. That is to say, next time, we won’t drink as much and we’ll keep our adventures more or less legal. Beer of the Week: Max Special Hop 2011 – As I mentioned in the review of regular Max, the advertising plan for this beer is to play up the fact that it is brewed with German hops and 100% malted barley (that is, without rice or other adjuncts.) As part of their “superior ingredients” approach, each year they come out with a limited edition brew with specially chosen hops. This year, the hops are from New Zealand. This is the beer that I took with me on my adventure across the river. The hops shine through in the aroma; it is not a strong aroma, but sweet, floral hops are definitely the primary smell. The flavor is sweet, but not syrupy like many adjunct lagers. It is not really much better than regular Max (which itself is very bland,) but it is somewhat impressive to see a large brewer attempting to produce a higher quality beer.

Reading of the week: On Friendship by Marcus Tullius Cicero, paragraphs 61-66 – Cicero, in this passage explains why friendship is “a matter of supreme importance” as well as discussing how a friendship should be ended if a friendship must end. 

Question of the week: Cicero says that mutual respect is friendship’s “brightest jewel.” Does that seem right?


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