A man with a neatly groomed mustache went into a restaurant and sat at a booth. Before him on the table was seated a glass filled with an unknown beverage. He looked around the room, wondering if he could get the attention of the server and ask what it was. Others noticed his curious glances and came over to see what the confusion was about.
One said the beverage was there if you wanted it; but you didn’t have to drink it. “Do what seems right to you.”
A bald man with a crooked nose said the beverage was “dangerous and deadly. It was a cruel person who set that there.” The bald man even tried to grab the drink and throw it out, however, he was stopped by another large, heavy-set man who said: “This drink is at their table and therefore should be drunk. There is no choice in the matter and anyone who says otherwise is disrespectful of this patron’s rights.”
On and on the other customers argued, barely noticing that the mustached patron decided to sip the beverage. A smile crept across his face but was quickly replaced with the look of pain. All looked to the man for an assessment.
“It tasted good, but it sours in the stomach.” said the mustached man.
The big man pointed to the bald man who tried to remove the drink. “That’s just because this one is making you feel bad about drinking it. Get rid of him, and you’ll feel much better.”
“Is not!” the bald man argued. That just goes to show you that it shouldn’t be drunk in the first place!”
“Now hold on a minute. Just because you think it is a disgusting drink, doesn’t mean it is for everyone” Said an older from the bar, now joining the fray.
“It has nothing to do with my taste preference. It’s making him sick!” Said bald man.
“You’re only saying that because you didn’t have that on your table when you came in here, said another.
“As a matter of fact, I did. I wondered at it till I saw the label underneath the jar. It said, ‘Do not drink.’”
“Oh, that’s part of the ambiance of this place. Old rustic signs and decorations. You can’t expect that to actually mean anything now.” Said the big man.
“I’m just so thirsty.” Said the mustached patron, growing weary by all the arguing.
“See? Said the big man. “You’re making it worse!”
The mustached patron took a gulp of the liquid with the same effect. It tasted good but caused him pain in the stomach.
“He should stop before he gets worse.” said the bald man.
“Worse?!” Cried the older man. “The arrogance you spew. I have met a few others here even tonight and they are lovely people. Instant friends. All drinking the same as this fellow. You are not half the man they are.”
“I don’t mean they are worse. I mean his condition is getting worse.”
“We can’t all be teetotalers! Go away and take your judgments and your milk with you.” sneered the big man.
“But he could die!” cried the bald man.
“You don’t know that and your certainty about it is rather insulting. You think you are smarter than us? Go lecture someone who was born yesterday.” said the older man.
Taking another drink and gritting through the pain, the mustached patron now hollered at the bald man, “Look, I’m just so thirsty. I came in here for a drink and this is all I’ve got.”
“All you’ve got? We’re in a restaurant with a bar, filled with choices.” Interjected the bald man.
But the mustached man ignored him. “This is my table and my drink. It’s who I am. Seems you don’t care and would rather I die of thirst than leave me to my drink in peace.”
“I don’t want you to die.” said the incredulous bald man. “I want the exact opposite.”
“To deny this man his right and ability to drink, is to deny him his life!” Sagely said the older man. “Drink up! We’ll take care of the hater. Once we get him out of here, you’ll feel much better.”
The crowd turned against the bald man now and started roughly shoving him to the restaurant exit.
“Fine. I’ll see my way out.” Said the bald man.
Just then, the restaurant manager walked out of the kitchen. "What's going on here?”
The customers explained the situation and to the manager's horror saw the "drinks” before some of the customers.
“These are for stripping the wax off of the tables!” he said incredulously.
The mob turned on the manager. "Why would they be in a restaurant if they weren't for drinking?”
The restaurant owner furrowed his brow. “I can’t be sure, but a disgruntled employee of mine that I had to fire a few weeks ago threatened me, my family and anyone who frequented this place. I was worried he would do something like this; that’s why I made sure there were warning labels placed on any dangerous substances. Not everything in a restaurant is for drinking. I’ve got some toilet bowl cleaner if you don’t believe me.”
"Then why,” said the sickly mustached patron who by now was looking green in the face," would it taste so good if it wasn't supposed to be drank?”
“Whether or not you do something shouldn’t solely be determined by how it tastes and feels!”
The large man grabbed the restaurant manager by the arm and rallied the crowd, “Any manager who is so irresponsible enough to leave poisonous drinks around, shouldn’t be manager.”
“Absolutely!” Joined in the older man, now grabbing the bald man by the neck of his coat. The only solution is to rid ourselves once and for all of any who would spread such poison, whether by drink or by speech.”
The crowd boiled over and with insults and violence, shoved the bald man and the restaurant manager out the door and prevented them from coming in.
“Finally,” said the large man, breathing heavily. “No more poison here.”
At that moment, the mustached patron’s head fell forward, slamming into the table and spilling the contents of the jar over the floor. The mustached patron did not stir. All eyes fell on the large man and the older man.
“Well…” said the older man. “Give him another drink!”