I don’t usually wax philosophical (preferring more often to wax off—bah dump chssht!), but I wanted to take a moment to question a few things about drinking, or rather attitudes towards it here in the good ol’ US of A.
I’m talking about all the raised eyebrows and whispers around the watercooler when you show up to work hungover, the hangdog looks and the “I’m sorrys” that accompany particularly great nights out with the boys, even the stern talks with yourself in the mirror Saturday morning when you find the 200 bucks you took out for the whole weekend is now $16.89.
It’s a deep-seated thing, a bad genetic memory even—this Puritanical notion that drinking is bad. Not bad for you, or bad for the earth or bad tasting, but just simply Bad. Morally reprehensible. Evil. Wrong. There’s a stigma surrounding drinking and it’s especially prevalent in the US, where a good many of us are descended from our European brethren who made a run for it way back in the day. It runs deep in many and it’s time we put things in perspective.
I would like to posit to our readers that drinking is not only not bad, but good—even healthy and beneficial to the bodies, minds and souls of those that decide to partake of the Enthusiast’s much-maligned drug of choice. Here’s why:
Drinking is a shared experience. Shared experiences create bonds. We are social creatures. We have to be. Originally it was to survive, because the loner cavemen soon figured out that while it was cool to be able to decorate your cave the way you want it (nice Nagel, Grax!!), the cavemen that lived in groups had more food, pussy and time to sleep. This far outweighed the drawbacks of having the cave bitches make you paint mammoths on the wall and breaking up the band just like your bros told you she would, man.
Everybody’s got fucking mammoths on the walls, Geenargh. Maybe Grax has it right…I mean, I just don’t know where this thing is going…
Eventually the dangers of getting “kilt” and “et” subsided, and yet we still decided to keep living in groups. Why? Well, not to get all psychological on your ass, we liked it. There’s something about sharing our experiences that brings us all closer together. Surviving a plague, griping near the cistern with buddies about how you just can’t get good pyramid help these days, or helping build a great big wall to keep foreigners out are all examples of this.
But what will we call it?
Drinking 18 meads with your lads at “Ye Olde Pube” is another, as is the ensuing hangover the following day. But both experiences—the pleasant and the painful—are beneficial to human social development.
Yes, shared pain is a positive force. Try bragging about your toothache to your mates at work one day; no one gives a fuck. Pour a bunch of tequila down everybody’s throat and hobble through the next day, and you are well on your way to figuring out who the best man at your wedding will be. And the reason for this?
Alcohol engenders communication. Alcohol is not called the “social lubricant” for nothing. Whether its wine, beer, whiskey or canned peach juice you made while you were “upstate,” the alcohol that we can ingest is all based upon the same chemical carbon chain: C2H5OH, or ethanol. It goes right to work on your hippocampus–the part of your brain that contains the playbook for “how to act like a human.” Ethanol depresses this little chunk of brain, so that it can stop acting like a little mushy gray Hitler…
and lighten the fuck up for once.
“So these are, like, pictures from last weekend, when your hippocampus visited, and we gave him a couple, like, Irish Car Bombs and some Fernet, and then he totally hooked up with your hypothalmus. You might gain some weird weight in your um, labia. But fucking awesome weekend, bra.”
Alcohol does this, and it does this without fail, to every living being that ingests it, causing us to lose our inhibitions and generally become more open and talkative. We humans figured that one out early the fuck on and that’s why we have copious amounts of alcohol…
- …at parties. Because your chocolate don’t get all up in her peanut butter by itself, fool…“Garçon, two glasses of the 2010 Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill, please…”
- …at funerals. Because you need to talk. It’s the most important part of the grieving process. Um, there’s no joke buried here, move along…
- …at weddings. Because your Hitlocampus won’t let you do that thing you do with the olive tray, your thumb and the salmon spread unless you sucker punch it with a couple tequilas first … and no one’s gonna think its funny unless they’ve done the same…
- …at family reunions. Because although you’re ok, there was some strange fuckin’ happenin’ on Auntie Keisha’s side, and now you gotta talk to it.
Not medically retarded, just reads the comment threads on YouTube. “h4h4 s\/ck it fagzz this vid iz soopr fayk.”
The list goes on and on, but the bottom line is: when we drink, we talk. We laugh, we cry, and we sing. We recognize the humanity in one another and it brings us a little closer together. And that’s not just a good thing; it’s a great thing.
If the price of admission to the club of humanity is a few thousand hangovers, I say we’re getting off cheap. I’m not saying that you should run out and become an alcoholic, or trying to validate you if you are. When you’re mowing the lawn with a snowblower in August, it’s time to take a break.
However, I do think that it’s high time that we all accepted drinking as a form of social activity that’s not going away, no matter how many health/religious/moral/ethical “red flags” we come up with. After all, when you die, wouldn’t you rather put a wizened, experience-soaked, well-worn corpse into the ground rather than a pristine, barely-used one that never allowed itself to reach the highs and lows that the human experience serves up? After all, that’s what teaches us the best lessons in life. Joy teaches us optimism and acceptance. Embarrassment teaches humility and the ability to laugh at ourselves. Pain instructs us about humility and restraint, while fear gives rise to vigilance and apprehension. You don’t get that shit by rolling down the center lane through life. You get that from careening wildly down the wrong lane with far too little sleep and the headlights off.
If Hindu reincarnation mythology is to be believed, when you die, you get reborn and head straight back to this plane to learn the things in life that you didn’t in the past one. Man, I’d be sending the sober assed, bible-thumping, lifestyle-judging, right-answer having, never-farting, healthy-pooping, early-to-bed and early-to-risers straight the fuck back to Earth for another lifetime, because they clearly haven’t learned a damn thing.
I’d probably send a lot of the Enthusiasts back too, but they certainly wouldn’t have to work at the DMV. They could be disease-immune hooker testers.
So in honor of this 4th of July weekend, and to commemorate the best binge drinking weekend America has to offer, I would like to say this: go get drunk. Go get fuckin’ shizknuckled and see what happens. Whether you laugh or you cry, break a heart or get your heart broken, plump your weenie properly or burn your goddamn sausage—I can guarantee you that you didn’t just drink alcohol this weekend; you drank a few beautiful drops of life.
Isn’t that worth an itty bitty (or an itty huge) headache?
Cave Painting courtesy of Raveesh Vyas, flickr.
Great Wall courtesy of Hector Garcia, flickr.
Rand Paul courtesy of Gage Skidmore, flickr.
Lesbians? courtesy of Dominics Pics, flickr.
“retard” courtesy of Gregg O’Connell, flickr.
DMV courtesy of Chad Magiera, flickr.