“Ale Is another Man”- Anonymous

In the Bike Hermit’s experience, ale is at least two other men. The first “other” man comes around for the first two or three rounds- depending on the ale’s alcohol content. He is more loquacious than the original Bike Hermit and his mood is fine. For him the hard edges of living are sort of smoothed and softened. If the session continues (usually ill-advisedly, and due to impaired judgment) this man often stays. Other times, on some unpredictable cue, a second “other man” appears and vitiates the first “other man”. This second “other man” is mean spirited and hurtful. But he is confident that his behavior is justified and he is unwilling to back down. He is not a tough guy though; he doesn’t pick fights with strangers, because that might hurt. No, he bullies his friends and loved ones with his anger and resentment and hurt feelings. He feels as though he has been wronged or insulted or embarrassed in some way and those feelings are strong enough to be accepted as true (by him). He’s actually quite good (better than he realizes apparently) at getting retribution for these perceived wrongs. He is something of a coward, really. He doesn’t care for himself either. His meanness comes from insecurity and self loathing and an urgency to “do unto others before they do unto you”.

This is not a drinking story though; the Bike Hermit does not care for the second “other man” but he knows he will always be there- a ghost in the machine, which is just more plainly visible with alcohol.