How in the world would we ever get by without it? Even Ben Franklin knew the beauty of it when he wrote: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
It is a human favorite. Your plumber uncle assuredly drinks 31 Budweisers just to get over his workday. Your mother keeps a bottle of Vodka in the toilet basin to wash down her Valium. Your boyfriend drinks way too much whiskey and passes out when you want physical love.
The most human intercourse is between the rocks glass and your lips and everyone is satisfied when it’s finished.
If rate of consumption proves anything, imbibing alcohol is the most repetitious act we do, other than sleep. Here in New York City, the capital of the busy drunk, where the term functioning alcoholic was invented, we gangsters of the bar rule. Yes, our women take whiskey shots. Yes, we drink before, during and after our workday and still have time for hobbies, hubbies, girlfriends, and brunch (the most important thing to do in life).
There is no shortage of creative types weighing in on the beauty of drinking (and this blog could go on forever with the litany of amazing quotes from drunk writers, philosophers, and musicians). Jim Morrison said: “It’s like gambling somehow. You go out for a night of drinking and you don’t know where you will wake up the next day. It could work out good, or it could be disastrous. It’s like the throw of the dice.” Sure is Jim, and you got the snake eyes roll of a mysterious death in a bathtub in Paris.
And my good friend Friedrich Nietzsche had this to say about Grandpa’s Hittin’ Juice: “For Art to exist, for any sort of aesthetic activity or perception to exist, a certain physiological precondition is indispensable: intoxication.” And this from a guy who hugged a horse in the town square before going completely insane from syphilis. I totally relate to the great Irish playwright Brendan Behan when he said “I am a drinker with writing problems.”
Alcohol is man’s best friend, and you don’t have to feed it or bring it home leftovers. But there’s a dark side to this wild and untamed Booze Tiger. Careening towards a drunk and chaotic abyss, many have breached this whiskey soaked edge, only to ask oneself: ‘My God, what have I done!’ As old Papa Hemingway told us: “Be careful what you say drunk, you might have to do it sober. And that will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”
But the question remains: Which ‘Drunk’ Are You? There are many faces to the unbridled, bewitching power of intoxication and Lord, have I seen them all.
Here’s a short list of ‘drunk’ styles you may unnervingly place yourself within, if you can remember what you did last night (just ask your bartender):
THE JEKYLL/HYDE PHENOMENON
They walk in. They are friendly enough, asking questions of the bartender about his or her life. They order a drink. “Just a quick one”, they explain plainly. You notice their clothing is a bit off, something mismatched. Every time you pass they start more inane conversations. “You live around here?” or “So, Matthew, what do you really do?” Your bartender Spidey-Sense starts tinlging. Then it happens. The third drink goes down. Their faces become sullen, devoid of life, like a mannequin. Their eyes grow cold. Now when they speak, they slur and laugh to themselves. It’s only 4pm.
For these folks the alcohol is poison. And they want it, bad. It’s truly frightening to watch. Alcohol should only accentuate or inhibit already present attributes. If this type of 100% switch happens, it is a sure sign of a problem. It reminds me the difference between the heavy drinker (me) and the problem drinker (these people).
You don’t want to be this drunk. And if you are, you probably don’t even know it. So cheers!
THE LAUGHING, CLAPPING, YELLING FUCK
You are so excited to be in a bar drinking! This must be your first time! Everything you say is at loud decibels. Those around your wince and smile anyway to be polite. They yell out at the bartender (sure-fire way to make the Help want to cut you and pour limejuice in the wound). They clap, laugh aloud, and throw their heads back, yelling with horrid ferocity.
Let me ask. What is with the clapping? Is this a sports game? You know these people from after work happy hour runs. They’re the one asking for Jager Shots at 430pm. They’re the ones who think strip poker still should be played after college. They usually recommend Karaoke. You know the type. For these people, college parties were the highlight of their life.
In the end, if you’re 42 and wearing sport jersey’s, clapping loud when there’s no games on, laughing obnoxiously at your own jokes and yelling at your bartender, it probably means a very little ship of hope has sailed past you and you’re sitting on that dock all alone, hoping the volume of your actions palliates the loneliness you feel creeping slowly around you.
THE CANDLE STARER
Okay. My heart goes out to this person. I’ve been there.
The world is a rough and dire place. The money is fucked. The rent’s overdue. There’s trouble with the partner and break up is imminent. You know who I’m talking about here. They sit by themselves in front of the candle at the bar, staring down into the fire. The little orange-yellow flame dances, elemental, strong against the darkness of the bar. And the Candle Starer sits blank eyed, wishing they could crawl out of their own skin.
Buddy. I know. When I would see these types (the Abbey Bar in Brooklyn has a legion of these folk) at work I’d keep the shots coming, without question.
Here’s a little free advice from your bartender.
Keep in mind that depression is actually a guise of self-obsession. Talk to your fellow man. Buy someone a beer. Get the fuck out of the bar and see a movie. That little flame in the candle will only remind you of yourself, a little fire still fighting against the noise and dreck of the bar, a metaphor for the world.
Go read a book.
Get a hobby.
Go do something. The world is literary falling apart around us. It is time to pick a sword and do something. At least get a job.
Not all of these drinks are free.
THE TOUCHY FEELERS
The night is going pretty well. Everybody is happy. The alcohol is flowing like some blessed river out of Greek Mythology. People are having all kinds of fascinating dialogues, stuff to rival legendary drunks like Ginsberg and Kerouac and the shots, dutifully bought by the attentive bartender, spread around the group and taste fantastic as they go down. No bad vibes. No pukey feelings. Everyone smiles and laughs (not at a loud volume). Things are adult, respectable and that cute person smiled at you. You nod, feeling satisfied.
Then you feel a strange, clammy hand on your lower back.
You turn. It’s Bob from Accounting. He’s smiling, nodding and keeping that hand on your back. You move away, shrugging it off as nothing and head to the bathroom.
That didn’t happen, right?
You go back. Bob leans in really close:
“Look, I just want to say it was really great hanging out with you…”
And then there’s that hand again. Bob smiles, like he doesn’t know how fucking weird it is for a man to touch another straight man in that area.
Ah, the Touchy Feeler. Always putting their hands in uncomfortable places.
And it’s not just Bob. It’s the older lady who, when you lean in to kiss her on her cheek, she turns quickly plants her old ragged lips right on your mouth. Or that guy, who you thought was just a friend, standing way too close to you, speaking right into your ear, his hot whiskey breath on your neck.
Alcohol makes these peoples inner Creep come out and touch their way into a bar fight. Beware longing, odd stares and misplaced palms.
THE SLUT MACHINES
Yep. Drunk people = Horny People.
It’s got to be something the Ancient Egyptians knew about the properties of alcohol.
They brewed over 17 different types of beer and 24 variations of wine, and this was back in 3150 BC! They also kept most of their booze around in the crypts so the dead rich folk could drink it in the afterlife.
Some of the Egyptian leaders stressed moderation, but only a slim number of citizens followed that advice. Frequenting taverns was morally reprehensible because of the susceptibility towards drunkenness and prostitution.
Fast forward to 2011 Williamsburg and not much has changed.
When you give people alcohol, it can turn any decent, self-respecting person in a horny monster, wanting to fuck anything that moves. The girls get drunk and sex burns in their eyes, wasted enough to forget they have to hold back and be a ‘lady’. The fellas get drunk enough to get some balls to talk to strangers. The whole bar becomes a snake pit of lust, and if anyone remembers this summer (or any summer) in the back patio of Union Pool, it is a hot bed of Fuck.
Alcohol is our permission slip to be who we really want to be. Or at least forget any rules of social tact and go right for the make-out.
Admit it. You’ve been there.
Till next time!
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS
AFTER THREE DRINKS!
"I KNOW THIS GREAT KARAOKE PLACE!"
ALL THIS GUY IS MISSING IS A CANDLE.
THIS GUY JUST TOUCHED YOUR LOWER BACK!
ONLY BOOZE MAKES PEOPLE DO THIS!