â€œSo you see,â€ Bigsby slurred, â€œSo you see, thatâ€™s why weâ€™re better than you.â€
â€œNo,â€ Jack replied, â€œI donâ€™t see at all.â€
â€œOkay. Okay. Iâ€™ll explain it again. Itâ€™s like this. The beer, see–â€ He held up his own glass for demonstration. â€œThe beer is the Earthmen. And these pretzels, well, the pretzels and the wings and the soda, those are all the colonies.â€
â€œSo the colonies are the substantial portion of the menu.â€
â€œBut the beer is why people come to the bar. Ya gotta have the beer to spice it up a bit.â€
â€œBut thatâ€™s why people eat the pretzels,â€ Jack pointed out blandly. â€œBecause they donâ€™t want to feel the effects of the alcohol. Most of the colonies have outlawed beer entirely,â€ he pointed out, sipping his own Coke in quiet superiority. He hoped immigration would be next on the list.
â€œBut thatâ€™s my point! Thatâ€™s exactly my point.â€ Bigsby leaned forward, his watery eyes sparkling. â€œBack here on Earth, why do people drink alcohol?â€
â€œBecause they donâ€™t know any better and they donâ€™t want to change.â€
â€œWrong. Thatâ€™s not it at all. They do it because they want change. Thank you,â€ Bigsby added to the bartender, who had just refilled his glass.
â€œNow youâ€™ve lost me.â€
â€œItâ€™s true. Listen. Why do frat boys drink beer at parties?â€
â€œWhat do you do for a living?â€ Jack cut in. He regarded Bigsby like some kind of rare bug specimen.
â€œIâ€™m an out of work politician.â€
Jack sighed. That meant he wouldnâ€™t get out of this without hearing the whole lecture. At least it would make a great scathing editorial when he got back to Mars. â€œAll right, go on. Why do frat boys drink beer at parties? Aside from the obvious answers of immaturity and poor upbringing.â€
â€œForget the frat boys, then. Why does anyone drink alcohol? Why does a perfectly sane, well-kempt, mature Earthman go out for a pint with his mates? Because he wants things to change. He wants to push the boundaries, wants to test the limits of himself. He wants to put himself in an abnormal situation and see if he gets an abnormal response. In short, he wants stimulus, and thatâ€™s something the colonies are never going to have.â€ Bigsby gestured widely with his glass, sloshing a respectable amount of beer onto the bar. â€œWhatâ€™s the last innovation the colonies have come up with? The latest invention? Have there been any?â€
Jack glowered at the increasingly annoying Earthman. â€œYou canâ€™t possibly be saying that an era of peace, prosperity, and enlightenment is a bad thing. Our laws are the best in the universe. They promote the way of life that we want to live.â€
â€œConflict is a catalyst,â€ Bigsby replied, eyes widening in an attempt to look wise. Jack remembered it as a catch phrase on the cover of the latest USA Today.
â€œDonâ€™t go looking for work on Mars,â€ he told Bigsby shortly, setting the money for his drink on the bar.
â€œStay on Earth a while,â€ Bigsby called after him from the barstool. â€œIâ€™ll take you out. Weâ€™ll go watch pro wrestling!â€
Jack was already writing the editorial in his head.