AFTER JUST about everybody has struggled through his or her annual bout with gluttony, the resolutions of January are as predictable as the billings from the department stores.Both are, in fact, the wages of excess. But while science has yet to produce a painless bill-payer loan to treat the impulses of generosity that overcome so many of us every December, you will be comforted to learn that while you were perhaps partaking of an extra cup of holiday cheer, science came up with a near-foolproof method for avoiding the customary morning-after cost.
Dr. James Schaefer, who heads the University of Minnesota's alcohol and drug abuse program, has discovered through his diligent researches the precise kind of bar to stay out of if you want to keep your head. The list includes bars with small dance floors, bars with country music, bars with dim lights, bars with uneven distribution of the sexes and bars with macho decorations. Especially the last: according to Dr. Schaefer, "macho bars with action pictures of calf-roping and champion cowboys seem to encourage men to act like hard-drinking cowboys."
There you have it: the road map to restraint. It may be unsporting of us to note that Dr. Schaefer's research was conducted in western Montana saloons -- you don't get many disco roller-skating bars in Missoula. But science has done its duty, and it's up to the rest of us to recognize this breakthrough and act accordingly.
Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson on the jukebox spell trouble. For moderation, punch Wayne Newton or Fred Waring. Be sure and check the artwork: if it's Norman Rockwell or Currier and Ives, you can order one of the usual, but if you see any Frederick Remingtons on the wall, you'd better stick with Shirley Temples. To be safe, carry a tape, measure the tavern's dance floor and avoid anything smaller than a football field. And before you even place your order, establish that the room's appointments are suitably androgynous -- no John Wayne murals or, Heaven forfend, Tom Mix ashtrays.
Finally, don't be afraid of the bright lights. They're good for your health. It says so in a scientific study conducted by a prestigious Midwestern university.