Drinking games

I don't drink. Never have, probably never will. There's enough alcoholism in my family tree that several generations of temperance will be needed to get the leaves on that tree to a BAC under 0.10. Plus, I like the food and drink consumption too much and if I restrict those to relatively healthy, nonalcoholic items, I'm that much better off. So there's a measure of innocence and ignorance I bring to the whole subject of drinking.

Maybe it's that ignorance, but can someone explain to me how drinking comes within a mile of its hype? Those who make the biggest deal about going out drinking, and here I mean the ones who seem to like it better than sex, seem to enjoy the talking about it more than the doing. On several occasions, after hearing a drink-hyper spew lots of verbiage about how great drinking is, it doesn't match up when I accompany them to go drinking (Sprite, please). They are not nearly as excited or boisterous or enjoying it 1/25th as much as they jawed on and on about it. Am I somehow ruining the fun? Or is it so much fun that it has to be taken very seriously, like taste-testing wine? I doubt it's me, since this always happens with a large group of people. And I doubt it's a need to savor the beer experience.

It smacks of one of those social conventions where the more conformist amongst us feel they need to go overboard in praising what they see as a popular activity to gain the acceptance of others. This leads to others inflating their feelings towards a particular activity until the conventional wisdom is that it's better than sex, better than living through a near death experience, better than anything.

My first week of college, I went to a frat party with some other freshman (no, we weren't wearing beanies). They drank, I didn't. We stood in a darkened frat house in downtown Binghamton, music thumping, them sipping from plastic cups. We were all bored and left, feeling that this particular college experience was pretty lame and way overrated. Other than getting a cup of beer, there was nothing else to do or see. I went to a couple of funneling and keg parties in the party dorm I lived in first semester. It was like an alcohol-worshipping cult.

And what's the deal with getting drunk? Before I realized that drunk people are pretty much indistinguishable from sober folks, I thought that there was some cartoonish symptoms of inebriation: the slurring, the stumbling, the little tic marks dancing above the person's head. Turns out, there's not.

Having never been drunk, but having had numerous reality-altering chemical episodes (anesthesia, sudafed-induced hazes, etc.) I think I've come close to knowing what a hangover is like. Now, I've been at social events where I'm having such a good time that my inhibitions were lowered and my tongue was loosened, all with nothing stronger than A&W. Is that like a natural drunkeness, or am I way off? Either way, if the price I had to pay for those 'natural' highs was the after effects of some lousy allergy medicine I've had, it would not have been worth it. Add headaches and vomiting and it sounds like a crazy proposition.

Perhaps the ultimate point of confusion for me is that for all the camaraderie and bonding, etc. that is supposed to go with drinking, the alcohol-based relationships seem to dry up soon after the drinking is removed. How many times have you heard about someone having all these drinking buddies and then when they stop going out, they find there's really nothing else to the relationship. When people get through the alcohol-fogged times of their lives, and go out with friends, it seems like they are real friends. Makes me wonder if the whole drinking deal is just a hollow, socially imposed farce.


mondale/ferraro foreva! said...

indeed, i think there's much truth to what the trackball says here - and perhaps a majority of the time drinking events turn out to be similar to what is described here -but i think people keep on doing em because every once and awhile something happens that's truly wild during a good ol' drinking fest - like one of your buddies gets naked and lights socks on fire in a bonfire! oh yeah!

mizerock said...

One word: buzzkill. The moment you leave, the real party begins! I mean, having you, the disappoving teetotaller around, it's like someone invited their Dad to the orgy.

The Rogue Progressive said...

Orgy, what orgy? That's a drinking game that I've never heard of happening. What does happen at those DDR parties at your pad, Mizerock?

Bulworth said...

The Senator tells me that in his undergraduate days that he did some drinking, got drunk a number of times, mostly at Friday night happy hours meaning that by nine o'clock he was in bed (alone), wiped out from too much drink and free pizza.

Part of it is a masculin thing. Real Men can drink lots. And the higher alcohol content, the better.

But the Senator says he never really liked the taste of the stuff, and now, drinking bad stuff is just too inconvenient, cops on the roads, mad mothers, etc.

So no more drink for the Senator.

American Dilettante said...

Drinking's biggest benefit is it is a safety net (ironically). It is a "get out of jail free card." It is an IP address anonomizer.

When you drink, you can do and say things that you normally wouldn't do. Later, you can say, "oh, man, I was drunk."

People like that comfort and like to see other people have that comfort.

Most fun: everyone's drunk
Second: you're drunk, everyone's not
Third: everyone's drunk, you're not
Last: everyone's sober