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“I feel sorry for people who don’t drink. When they wake up in the morning, that’s as good as they’re going to feel all day” – Frank Sinatra

Eternity is a long time.  Pace yourself.

Eternity is a long time. Pace yourself.

Admitting you are dead is the first step to the afterlife.  One really can’t control the fact that one is dead, since obviously most of us, given the choice would rather be alive.  If you happen to have shuffled off this mortal coil, but find yourself somewhat at loose ends about what to do, it makes sense to recognize the possibility that some sort of higher power has earmarked you for a form of continued non-existence.  Perhaps they expect you to examine past errors and make amends for them; although presumably this is a lot harder to do when dead, than alive, and frankly it would be rather annoying if death was just a kind of an eternal appointment with a social worker.  Turns out, you’re going to have to learn to live (or “un-live”) under a new set of rules, and conduct yourself as a proper ghost, maybe even help a newcomer or two to adapt to the disconcerting world of phantasms.  Of course, eternity can be a bit disconcerting, assuming one isn’t whisked away to paradise for an audience with the celestial bigwigs.  It seems like you might have some time on your hands.  May as well settle in and find your comfort zone until you figure out what to do with your afterlife.  When you have a few eons to kill, where better to rest your ectoplasm than in the pub, which likely accounts for the disarmingly large number of ghosts associated with local watering holes.

Obviously, it’s no coincidence that both ghosts and alcohol are called “spirits”, and those skeptical about the supernatural will commonly point out that it is unsurprising that concentrated groups of the inebriated might collectively start hallucinating strange things while under the influence.  That’s why skeptics are always getting into bar fights.  Can’t hold their liquor or their disbelief.  Lightweights.  Clearly, ghosts haunt all sorts of establishments, from mental institutions to hospitals to prisons to creepy old houses, and we have to allow for the possibility that there is a little leeway in picking your post-life poison, but after all we are relatively social creatures and if it looks like we need to designate a spot for a few millennia of haunting, chances are most of us could think of few better alternatives than a place where spirits are high (pardon the pun) and once everybody knew our name.  There are literally thousands, if not tens of thousands of reputedly haunted bars, making this an essentially ubiquitous phenomenon historically, geographically, and cross-culturally, suggesting that as a waystation for the designated dead, bars are only surpassed in popularity among the spectral set by graveyards, and that’s simply because in death, as in life, most people just take things way to literally.

Don’t believe me?  Go ahead, fire up your browser, and search “Haunted Bars of…”, and insert any city name.  You will be stunned, and when you’re dead, you will probably be thankful.  Let’s face it, one of life’s little pleasures is sitting at the bar with a few buddies and telling embarrassing stories about each other.  Why shouldn’t one take advantage of the lack of earthly responsibilities in the afterlife and do the same.  Forever.  So, while you’re still animate and corporeal, I recommend planning ahead, staking out that eternal stool, and letting your living drinking companions know that when your time comes, they shouldn’t forget to leave you a pint.  Maybe you didn’t take enough advantage of the local pub in life, and this is your chance to balance out the karmic scales.  Then again, maybe it was not drinking enough that led to your untimely demise in the first place, just as Johnny Carson cautioned, “I know a man who gave up smoking, drinking, sex, and rich food. He was healthy right up to the day he killed himself”.