In December, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey, released a commercial called, “A Parting Glass.” It got me thinking about life and death, and how we as a society celebrate both.
I’ve often said to my friends and loved ones, “When I die, don’t have a funeral in a church. Throw a party in the woods.” Why? Because I love the woods and I like to party.
I even sometimes think about the songs I want played at the celebration – songs that might make people think of me in a joyful way. It sounds kind of morbid to some people, but it’s not. While mourning a death is necessary, I think celebrating life is too, and I find that the celebration part is often overlooked.
I had a close friend die suddenly about a year ago now. While his family held a funeral, the prayer card they handed out at the service didn’t only possess a prayer. It also had some lyrics to his favorite song. I loved it. I thought it was the perfect tribute.
The night after the funeral, we all went to the bar. We shared drinks together, exchanged memories of both glee and sadness. We listened to the music he loved. And to me, that was much more powerful than the service itself. It’s exactly what we would have done if he were there, and it’s what he would have wanted from us. I know it.
I’m not saying this is for everyone. Some people want a funeral, and they want people dressed in black at a standard service with organ music. And that’s perfectly fine. It’s just not me.
Anyhow, that’s a long-winded introduction to the point of this post: and that is the connection between drinking, death, friendship, and marriage, a connection drawn beautifully in this Tullamore D.E.W. commercial. Check it out below, then read my commentary if you like.
Four friends dressed in suits walk along a rainy, rural Irish landscape. They’re walking slowly, solemnly, one of them carrying a bottle of whiskey, another holding four rocks glasses. One of the friends stops and says, “It’s better to pass into that other world with full passion and glory than to fade and wither dismally with age.”
Immediately, I’m under the impression that they’re leaving a funeral. In fact, they pass a small graveyard on the way. Then they approach a rocky ledge and sit together.
As the characters sing the Irish hymn, “So fill to me, the parting glass, good night and joy be with you all,” one of the friends proposes a toast, “Glasses up to my brother Gerry. May God be with him.”
Church bells ring. We see a bride smiling.
A bride? What? Suddenly it hits you. It’s a wedding.
The friends’ pensive reflection turns to joyful camaraderie. One of them stands up, turns around, tips his hat to his friends, who all in turn, raise their glasses, and the groom walks slowly toward his new life.
They’re saying “goodbye” to their friend Gerry because he’s leaving this life, and entering a new one with his wife. Of course Tullamore wants us to think this is a funeral. The surprise is intentional.
They’re making a strong statement about the bond between friends, men specifically. They walk together, they drink together, they toast together. They say goodbye. The whiskey is part of the glue that molds these friends together.
What I really love about this commercial, among so many other things, is their respectful approach to this everyday situation. It’s a touchy subject, comparing marriage to the end of one’s life, but it’s not insulting or denigrating to the institution of marriage. It’s a salute to friendship. I love it.
What do you guys think?