This one was written by Matt Magill.

It is good to be inebriated on the cup of God’s salvation.

– St. Ambrose

I don’t drink much… Err…I don’t drink much in public. My wife and I enjoy lots of wine with friends and even a little too much sometimes, if she can keep me up late enough binge-watching Schitt’s Creek. But bellying up to the bar (that’s what we call it here in Texas) holds an allure that was hidden to me…until the other night.

I’d just finished two long sets with my band when my friends asked me to follow them to a bar after a gig and, for some reason soon to be revealed to me, I actually did.

Beers were poured as we caught up trading anecdotal stories and rapping a bit with the bartender — so far so good. Though it cost more to drink here than it would have on my couch, I was enjoying what to me was the novelty of what Chuck Berry calls “No Particular Place to Go.” Then things got weird.

My night’s plot-twist occurred when the door swung open and in galloped a man (or overgrown adolescent but who’s keeping score?) whom we’ll call Dustin “the Drunk” (definitely his Game of Thrones handle). Dustin instantly noticed my friend, admittedly a dead ringer for Dave Grohl, right away. “Dave Gaaroooooohl! F’n Nivarna!!!!” Everyone in the bar took notice. The stage was Dustin’s…but he didn’t notice.

My friend warmly let Dustin know he “gets that all the time,” and Dustin turned his attention to me, yelling, “What’s up? Brando.” I don’t have to tell you I was starting to like him. (Side note: I’m choosing to believe he meant Brando from Last Tango in Paris and not Brando from Apocalypse Now!)

For the next hour Dustin bounced in and out of the bar, and with each passing gulp he was louder. He had ZERO reservations, no boundaries and no deodorant on. But there was something about Dustin the Drunk that enchanted me.

While “Brando” judiciously sipped his second beer and asked the barmaid if there was anything on the menu that might soak up the alcohol (I was driving my wife’s Subaru. Need I say more?), Dustin was Hell on Wheels — NO BRAKES and treating us all like long-lost friends.

That’s when he told, “Dave Grohl, I’m buying you and me a round of Shiner Bocks and then we’re going home!” Cue: huge eyebrow lift from my friend, who let Dustin know he’d happily drink the Shiner but he was definitely staying here with us.

That’s when it hit me. Dustin was so drunk and lost to himself and yet…he was unknowingly displaying the indiscriminate love of God to everyone in this bar. While I counted calories, judged the flavor profile of my IPA and wondered if anyone else thought I looked like Marlon Brando, Dustin decided to haul his bass guitar in from his truck, declaring he could burn this “mother&$*!er down,” going on to gauge my interest in starting a 90s grunge band with him? Apparently, he’d been having a hard time with his current vocalist. Not sure why??

At this point I wondered, was Dustin a distraction from my night or was I a highlight in his? The latter seemed to be taking the day. Dustin seemed to be a divine interruption in surprising form — that of a fool.

I don’t need a cautious friend. I don’t need someone who overthinks. Waits. Wonders. I need a friend who pays no attention to anything that I do or don’t do. I need a friend who loves without end — a friend who gets too close and notices nothing repelling in me. I need someone who gets dirtier than me, becomes more ashamed than me and plays the fool so that I know the lengths he would go to capture my affection and draws me close to him.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:21, NKJV)

I need a friend who is so drunk on love (read: free) that all barriers that exist between me and literally EVERYONE else fade away as his indiscriminate love washes over me like a cold beer on a summer night.

In A Room Called Remember, Frederick Buechner writes, 

When we are with other people, we are apt to talk about almost anything under the sun except for what really matters to us, except for our own lives, except for what is going on inside our own skins. We pass the time of day. We chatter. We hold each other at bay keeping our distance from each other even when God knows it is precisely each other that we desperately need.

From to time to time, maybe we need a drunk stranger to walk into our perfectly attenuated lives and distract us with an intimacy that is foreign to us. We need an alien announcement that we are accepted because everything within tells us we’re not. Though at first this strange intimacy comes unexpected and is typically off-putting, we soon learn that only when love comes “right on time and out of nowhere” (HT DAWES!) are we shaken by the good that can come out of Nazareth.