Issue #105 – “I Drink, Therefore I Am” – March 12th, 2007

-Getting drunk is an American tradition – one could say the values we cherish most include Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happy Hour.  These days, the culture of inebriation is usually experienced first in high school.  For me, that meant waiting until one of my friends went on vacation with his family, and then throwing a party in their vacant backyard.  The indoctrination continues in college.  This spring, universities across the country will hold various annual festivals that in reality consist solely of undergrads trying to get as fucked up as possible – as they tend to do whenever a tent or a band is involved.  After college, the drinking does not subside, but its effects must now be concealed.  Business casual-clad twentysomethings trudge to work every morning knowing that if they must, the 14th floor handicapped stall is the best one to boot in.   Thus throughout our lives, it is our choices (of beer, vodka, or whiskey) that define us.   I drink, therefore I am.

-I hate bars that have a selection of like 500 different beers.  If I wanted to feel like an idiot ordering from an overly-extensive and confusing menu, I’d drink wine.  I’m a man who likes his beer in a red, plastic cup and served with a hint of ping-pong ball residue.

-I’m always the guy who gets a stray ice chip in his shot.  It’s horrible because, for a millisecond, I think I’m gonna choke to death.  Then I finally swallow, remember how much I abhor SoCo Lime shots, and wish the ice chip had just finished me off.

-I was partying in Chicago last year when I accomplished a first for me – I had two different tabs on two different cards open simultaneously at the same bar.  Some might call that being an idiot.  But I call it “building credit history.”

-Have you ever been to a Happy Hour where the drink specials are so cheap that when you offer to buy someone a round they actually make fun of you for not spending that much money?  I usually make sure that asshole gets the ice chip.

-I’m really neurotic about not eating once I’ve commenced drinking.  Food just either slows me down, gets in my teeth, or hurts my stomach.  Plus, I’ve found that even if I do eat while I’m still drinking, it has surprisingly little effect on the quantity of late-night pizza I consume when I’m done drinking.

-The electronic novelty that all bars should be required to have is a photo booth.  These amazing devices enable you to hook up with a chick in private, without having to leave the bar or close either of your tabs.  Plus, you get the pictures as proof.  Try doing that with Golden Tee.

-Between the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, and March Madness, the first three months of the year are often the drunkest.  Because there’s nothing we Americans enjoy more than getting fucked up while watching teams we don’t care about, or celebrating holidays whose origins we know nothing about.  But drinking isn’t always about excess and irresponsibility.  Countless relationships have been forged over cocktails on a first date.  Groundbreaking ideas have been spawned after a few beers.  In truth, alcohol isn’t just a social lubricant imbibed by libidinous teens on Spring Break – it’s part of the very fabric of our society.  And I’m not just saying that because I’m wasted.

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-I was shopping online the other day and when I went to enter my billing address, the drop-down menu for “country” was defaulted to the first choice – Afghanistan – and I thought that was strange.  I mean, how often is anyone from Kabul on ordering toilet paper?

-Why do I fall for it every time the announcer says there will be “More 30 Rock right after these messages” when I know it’s just the credits?

-I hate when bars use part of the street address in their name.  It’s not clever or even particularly memorable.  If that’s what you’re going for, name the bar That Place Where You Made Out With That Chick in the Wife-Beater in the Photo Booth.

-When I unscrew a blown light bulb, screw in a new one, flip the switch, and the light goes on – to me, that’s a miracle.  Sadly, that’s about the extent of my handiwork around the house.  I’m terrified of the garbage disposal.  And the box my toaster oven came in claims you can use it to broil a whole chicken, but so far I’ve only worked my way up to bagels.

-I’m not sure whose death I care about less – Anna Nicole Smith or Barbaro.

-I often find that the bar next door to the more exclusive bar that I really wanted to get into but couldn’t is more fun anyway.  And that’s not because I’m bitter or anything.

-Fun fact:  Hinder, Daughtry, and Nickelback are actually all the same band.  Who knew?

-How is it still legal to manufacture telephone books?  They’ve got to be the most wasteful and useless products ever.  Sure, I stand on a stack of them when I need to change a light bulb, but besides that the things are glorified tree coffins.  Al Gore could do a sequel just on the Yellow Pages.

-And, finally, as we reach our mid- and late-twenties, it gets much more difficult to organize life around our drinking habits.  Take my friend Christina, for instance, who’s an anesthesiologist.  (You might remember her from Ruminations #18 as my friend who cut her head out of a picture of her holding a drink in each hand, because that’s the most sober picture she could find for her med school application.)  Anyway, now that Christina is a successful doctor, several nights a month she has to be on “back-up call” – meaning she doesn’t have to be at the hospital, but she has to be ready to get there on a moment’s notice if needed.  Back-up call can be torturous, however, because essentially it’s a day off, but you can’t get wasted, thereby defeating the purpose.  Christina occupies herself with sober activities on these days because it was her lifelong dream to become a doctor.  Personally, I just couldn’t handle it.  I drink, therefore I am.  Still, there’s something comforting about knowing that if I go out boozing but choke on an ice chip, there will be sober people like Christina available to nurse me back to health.  And equally comforting is knowing that if she wasn’t on call, she’d probably be booting right beside me in that proverbial 14th floor handicapped stall.  Fuck me.