“Alcohol makes other people less tedious, and food less bland, and can help provide what the Greeks called entheos, or the slight buzz of inspiration when reading or writing. The only worthwhile miracle in the New Testament—the transmutation of water into wine during the wedding at Cana—is a tribute to the persistence of Hellenism in an otherwise austere Judaea. The same applies to the seder at Passover, which is obviously modeled on the Platonic symposium: questions are asked (especially of the young) while wine is circulated. No better form of sodality has ever been devised: at Oxford one was positively expected to take wine during tutorials. The tongue must be untied. It’s not a coincidence that Omar Khayyam, rebuking and ridiculing the stone-faced Iranian mullahs of his time, pointed to the value of the grape as a mockery of their joyless and sterile regime. Visiting today’s Iran, I was delighted to find that citizens made a point of defying the clerical ban on booze, keeping it in their homes for visitors even if they didn’t particularly take to it themselves, and bootlegging it with great brio and ingenuity. These small revolutions affirm the human.”
“How very like you, Puck.” Ash’s voice came from a great distance, and the room started to spin. “Offer them a taste of faery wine, and act surprised when they’re consumed by it.”
That struck me as hilarious, and I broke into hysterical giggles. And once I began, I couldn’t stop. I laughed until I was gasping for breath, tears streaming down my face. My feet itched and my skin crawled. I needed to move, to do something. I tried standing up, wanting to spin and dance, but the room tilted violently and I fell, still shrieking with laughter.
Somebody caught me, scooping me off my feet and into their arms. I smelled frost and winter, and heard an exasperated sigh from somewhere above my head.
“What are you doing, Ash?” I heard someone ask. A familiar voice, though I couldn’t think of his name, or why he sounded so suspicious.
“I’m taking her back to her room.” The person above me sounded wonderfully calm and deep. I sighed and settled into his arms. “She’ll have to sleep off the effects of the fruit. We’ll likely be here another day because of your idiocy.”
The other voice said something garbled and unintelligible. I was suddenly too sleepy and light-headed to care. Relaxing against the mysterious person’s chest, I fell into a heady sleep.”