A warm and cluttered dining room at a good friend’s home, kids playing in the next room and occasionally appearing in silly costumes, dinner consumed and everyone’s plates messy but mostly empty, wine bottles either bone dry or getting there—you know the moment. It’s that point of plenitude and good humor in an evening of food and drink with people you like, and a natural time to talk idly about the catastrophic state of the American political scene, a movie everybody has just seen, the war that won’t end, the wine, that sort of thing. At the dinner in question, it’s also the point at which I mentioned offhand something I’d been told recently, that 2006 was the very first year in which Americans under the age of 30 drank more wine than beer. And here’s the quip I so enjoyed, from an old friend: “Well, at least there was one positive development in the life of the country.”

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