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Dave Church's "Rules for Proper Drinking"

Let’s face it: technology killed the epistolary form. I was, however, fortunate enough to have experienced the pleasure of composing “snail mail” missives and keeping letters with some richly interesting and articulate people. As a bit of a pack rat, I’ve kept a lot of these old letters from some venerable small press poets and writers.

Perhaps my favorite letters come from the late-poet Dave Church. From what I can gather, we kept letters for approximately three years between 2000 and 2002 and then, as email began to occupy all of my time, our correspondence drifted off. Dave was a mentor to me, and his letters have the voice of an old poet imparting his wisdom and reflecting on his follies to his callow peer.

The following “Rules for Proper Drinking” come from a letter Dave wrote to me dated December 30, 2001. I’m transcribing these verbatim. Enjoy!

  • Never drinking in the morning.

  • Eat something substantial at least two hours before indulging.

  • Drink one 8oz glass of water 10 minutes before starting time.

  • You really shouldn’t drink before two in the afternoon on your days off.

  • Eat cheese periodically. A slice here and a slice there. Helps with absorption etc.

  • If the drinking bout is gonna last 15 rounds then have another glass of water at around the 7th round.

  • Drink a glass of water with an aspirin and vitamin B before packing it in for the night.

  • If possible (and this is very important) try and eat something as well when the fight is finished—how about fish sticks? [It was an inside joke]

PS: Along with letter, Dave also attached a photocopied pictured of himself in his cab (he drove a taxi for a living and wrote eloquently about it) with the following handwritten joke:

A guy was riding around with a duck in his car. A cop pulled him over and ordered him to take the duck to the zoo. A few hours later, the cop saw this guy again—still riding around with the duck. The cop pulled the guy over again and said to him: I thought I told you to take that duck to the zoo. The guy said he did take the duck to the zoo. Now he was taking it to a ball game.

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