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Neuharth: ‘Nondrinker’ designation? He’ll drink to that

"I have no idea where this `nondrinker' information came from, but it is false and potentially defaming if it were to become public. My love for a martini (vodka) is well known among my friends.

"I have no idea where this `nondrinker' information came from, but it is false and potentially defaming if it were to become public. My love for a martini (vodka) is well known among my friends.

Usually, when I get the report after my annual physical at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, I carefully check my cholesterol and PSA and then just glance at the rest. For some reason, last week when I got the latest account from my lead Mayo physician, Dr. Francois Lette, I read the whole thing, including the fine print. Headlines:

My PSA is OK and my cholesterol in the proper range.

But under “Social History,” I was listed as a “nondrinker.”

Shocked, I fired off a letter to Dr. Lette that included the following:

“I have no idea where this `nondrinker’ information came from, but it is false and potentially defaming if it were to become public. My love for a martini (vodka) is well known among my friends.

“Since many of them are nosy news people, if your report listing me as a `nondrinker’ were to leak out, they would expose me as a faker. So will you please correct that part of my Mayo record.”

Quotes from Dr. Lette’s letter in response this week:

“I would not want to defame you by calling you a teetotaler or an abstainer. I used to report `social drinking,’ but this tended to offend some puritans among my clientele.

“I resorted to this other term (nondrinker), which means no pathological drinking, but I see that this, too, can defame some of us if it is read by friends.

“I am sending you an amended copy of your record, which now reads `inconsequential social drinking, i.e. one martini daily.’

“My deepest apologies. Long live the daily martini.”

A doctor with both a sense of humor and an appreciation of a martini?! Let’s all drink a toast to him: Long live Dr. Lette!

Al Neuharth is founder of USA TODAY.

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FEEDBACK

“As America’s most famous distiller, George Washington, once said, `The benefits arising from moderate use of liquor have been experienced in all armies, and are not to be disputed.’ Apparently, Al Neuharth and his doctor agree.” Peter Cressy, president and CEO, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States

“The misuse of alcohol can pose a serious health risk. Unlike Mr. Neuharth, if you can’t be honest with your doctor about your alcohol intake, it could be indicative of a bigger problem.” Rick Kellerman, M.D., board chair, American Academy of Family Physicians

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