5 Drinking Breakthroughs That Mean You've Finally Grown Up
You guys wanna go get hammered and gingerly take steps into adulthood tonight? The two things aren't mutually exclusive. Every time you head to a bar for the evening, you're giving yourself a thousand little opportunities to prove that you're a functional, responsible grown-up. And though you might end that evening by puking so hard that your lungs feel like they've been boxing one another, you can now take solace in the fact that you've become a better person. "How?" you ask, sitting at your desk chair, thinking that you might feel better if you go throw up again. Well, last night, did you ...
Buy Someone Else A Round
When you're broke, alcohol is more precious than jewels. You're having a BYOB house party, and if you currently have less money than the amount it took to buy your personal stock of liquor, your Spider Senses are attuned to everyone that goes back and forth to the kitchen. "Is Tim drinking my whiskey? That dickhead. I bet he is. I bet he's drinking all of it. I bet he's pouring shots with it for the girl he's flirting with. 'You want some of this?' I bet he asked her that. I might do it. I might kill Tim tonight."
I'm slightly less broke than I was the night that I killed Tim, but the wounds, they remain. I still go all Gollum-ey if I feel like my alcohol rations are being threatened. I even still get this weird second of hesitation whenever my wife asks me to buy her a drink. "Buy you a drink? But what if I starve later this evening?" Man evolved to be scared of snakes, and I evolved to keep a tight grip on my drinkin' money. So when I go out of my way to buy a round for someone that didn't ask for it, I feel like Santa and the Salvation Army all rolled into one medium black t-shirt. Merry Christmas. I've poured Bud Light into your stocking. And by stocking, I mean you.
This present is full of whiskey. It's truly disgusting. I didn't plan this holiday out very well.
But here's the part that determines whether or not this is going to be a positive experience for me: When I do this, I have to make a concentrated effort to not keep a tally. If you decide to buy someone a drink because they wanted a drink and you were feeling kind, you're gonna take two steps back if you then make the mental note of "Alright, now THEY owe ME a drink." All of your efforts will be undone if you start playing a mental game of Bar Tab Math. And no matter who bought first, Bar Tab Math always leaves at least one person feeling bamboozled. You bought them a fancy cocktail and they bought you a draft beer? Sure, you wanted that draft beer, but what fucking gives?
So, when you creep into the land of alcoholic generosity, just know that it's all for naught if you expect someone else to suddenly make the trip with you. And if you do, just think of what you've done. That person can now use that spare money to buy a hot dog or a gallon of gas, or a used book or another drink. They probably won't write you a Thank You card or give you a handjob behind a Quiznos, but, if only for a second, you've alleviated a bit of the constant pressure that comes from living in a world where you have to pay to do almost everything. You did your part, however small it may be, in making sure that someone you care about wasn't crushed by their own existence.
Taking a bullet for your wallet.
Refrain From Complaining About The Music
There is nothing worse than that awkward span of time when a regular bar is first transitioning into its "dance night," but it's too early for dancing. So, for an hour, there's just a big, empty space with multi-colored spotlights flashing over it. And beside that is a bunch of people at the bar who don't want to leave yet but can't hear each other talk, because the DJ is trying to tell the people on the sidewalk that the fun is in front of him, communicating exclusively through remixes of The Weeknd.
I take that back. There is something worse than that. The person that comes inside, and then complains about those The Weeknd remixes. You might know this person from the time that they complained about The Eagles' song playing at the dive bar, or the time that they groaned while that one older couple danced by themselves to "Sweet Home Alabama" at the sports bar, or the time that they went outside, and the sheer presence of things that they weren't into caused boils to erupt on their skin. "Cursed be this earth that doesn't follow my Spotify account!" they shout into the night as their flesh falls off.
"Quickly! I must create a 'Good Vibes' playlist before I am nothing but bone!"
It's hard to not be that person sometimes, because science has shown us that bad songs can last anywhere from three minutes to a century. People have been born, fallen in love, had children, and died, all in the time that it took for that fucking Maroon 5 track to finish. But here's the thing: One day, that song will end. And here's a bigger "the thing": Other people are enjoying that song. Asking people to "just try and enjoy things" is how The Big Bang Theory became popular, so no, you don't have to enjoy anything if you don't want to. And if you try to, you'll end up irony-ing so hard that the world will be depleted of sarcasm and no one will ever be able to enjoy a SyFy original movie again.
Before the great Irony Depression of 2016, sarcastically watching movies like this made up 54 percent of the world's entertainment.
Just don't complain outwardly and openly about it. Make fun of the songs all you want. The reason Weird Al takes so long between albums is to give us normal folk a chance to say that all of Drake's songs kind of sound like the ravings of a guy that would get drunk and text you lyrics of Drake songs. But when you're complaining about music in a sea of people that love the music, no matter how objectively bad the song is, all you're saying is "My pettiness is more important than your happiness." And when you don't, what you're saying is "Eventually, this era of Ariana Grande will pass, and I will have a good time with my friends and go home. And then I will listen to this unknown college-aged band do a doo-wop cover of Arcade Fire's "Keep the Car Running" that they recorded on old soup cans by myself. Like an adult."
Let A Problem Go
Whenever you accidentally spill a drink on yourself, there's a split-second feeling of "Well, I guess it's all over now." Middle school and general reality has taught us that when we drop something that was meant for our mouths on our not-mouths, the people around us don't pour their own food on themselves as a sign of solidarity in this turbulent maelstrom of life. No, they act like they're auditioning for Carrie and you become the guy in the room with stuff spilled on him. And no one will ever even think about your wiener again.
NOOOOOOOO. MY WIIIIIEEEEEENNNNNNNEEEEERRRRRRRR
This goes double if someone else is the cause of you spilling a drink. Or does anything to inconvenience you in a place like a club, where self-consciousness is ratcheted up to a million and you're trapped in a room full of people who have all simultaneously forgotten how to be humans. The first time I ever went to a club that had dancing, a guy at the bar told me "Nice khakis," and laughed, and holy shit. I was so angry at him and angry at his parents for loving each other and angry at everyone he ever knew for reinforcing even the tiniest parts of his personality. But most of all, I was angry that I wore khaki pants and a button-down shirt combination that screamed "My one-on-one interview with the manager of Family Video went perfectly average."
Your resume was good, Daniel, but your clothes are birth control.
This kind of stuff would ruin my whole night, and it did, many times. Something that I could've never hoped of controlling would go wrong, and it would be my Sisyphus for the evening. I'd struggle to push that esteem-shaped boulder up that me-shaped hill over and over again, and it took a long time to realize that it didn't have to be that way. This whole bar smells like vodka, and that dude apologized, like, four times. Why am I letting this ruin everything?
Not shooting off the rails with a "WHAT'S UP, BRO?! YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?" every time a guy bumps into you and just accepting that, when you pack a bunch of drunks in an enclosed space, they might touch each other, is progress. It's not huge progress since "WHAT'S UP, BRO?! YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW?" moments are relatively few and far between. But it still means that you've grown up into something that other grown-ups can take out in public.
Look at all the places you can go when you stop trying to pummel people, Stephen.
Order A Water
The first time someone told me that I should order a water while I was drinking, I took it as an affront to my character. My college friends never told me to order a water. My post-college friends never told me to order a water. And now my post-post-college friends are telling me that I should get some water in me? That's laughable. On a side note, later that night I vomited into my pint, then on top of a trash can lid, then in a gutter, then in the same room as a toilet.
It's the Where's Waldo of shame.
Getting a water, or some food, while you're drinking is moving towards recognizing that you have to be responsible for drunk you. Drunk Daniel thinks Attack Of The Clones is the best in the series, loves Nickelback's "Gotta Be Somebody," and wants to race you. But he's still a part of Daniel that needs to be managed and not romanticized. There's only so many times that you can tell someone "Haha, that's just me when I'm drunk!" before they reply with "Never come within ten feet of me or my newly repaired coffee table again."
I started drinking a lot at eighteen, and it took me eight years before I developed any sort of relaxed drinking method that would indicate that I had an awareness of what would come if I didn't get a water. And not just what would come later that evening, but what would come the next day, when I had classes, or projects, or work, or any other thing where people depended on the idea that maybe I'd put myself in a position of being useful. This may not apply so much to people that handle hangovers with any degree of normality, but it definitely applies to those of us that take two full days to finally stop wondering if we're going to die.
If you'd just drunk this, you wouldn't be shivering in your bathrobe right now.
Getting a water proves to the world that you're still able to fulfill the obligations that you've promised to attend to. Unless you're off work the next day. If that's the case, just keep a water nearby and look at it as your drinking tag team partner. When shots beat you down, water is there to deliver a clothesline or two.
Agree To Be The Designated Driver (Without Making A Big Deal About It)
Remember when I talked about the person making a huge stink about the music being the worst thing in the world? Well, it's actually a tie. Because the quickest way to lose a friend is to be the type of friend that turns their designated driver status into a symbol of martyrdom. You went out of your way to pick up your fun-having friends and oh, the horror of being surrounded by drunk people that you know and adore, and the agony of the torture of having to get them back to their homes safely. Agreeing to be the designated driver and then complaining that you have to ferry intoxicated buddies around is like going to Wendy's, ordering a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, and then crying when you don't get a dozen filet mignons on your tray.
CAVIAR MY ASS.
You knew what you signed up for. And you're ensuring that people you love don't die. Why are you being such an asshole about it?
I mean, I sort of get it. You promise to drive people around and you either go home and wait around for that impending, but unpredictable "Mark got in a fight and they kicked us out. Can you come pick us up?" call, or you go out with them and order a bunch of Cokes. Or you order one beer at the exact right time so that you'll be able to operate a car without feeling the effects of it. Regardless, it's less fun than the fun that your friends are having. And not all designated drivers are pouty messes, but every once in a while, you get one that treats their drunk friends like a foreign movie that they didn't get the subtitles to.
No, you guys just stay over there and enjoy yourselves. I'll be back here, trying to get you to notice me.
But think of it this way: You just got them home, Superman. Sure, you can't jump over a building or shoot heat vision from your eyes, but you got a group of your friends from a place that they can't sleep at back to a place where they can recover. You have ensured that, tomorrow, the newscasters don't say "You know all of those people that you worked to form meaningful connections with? Yeah, they tried to drive home."
"Don't drive home drunk" is something that's preached to you from an early age, so this section might just be one big DUH to you. But I want you to know that, if you were the designated driver last night, and you didn't fuss about the hardships that occur when you're the only friend that can see straight, you can join my Justice League. BuysRoundsForOthersMan, Didn'tPunchSomeoneElseGirl, and I are all going out for drinks later. You should totally come.
Daniel has a blog.
For more check out 4 Signs of Adulthood for Reluctant Grown Ups and 5 Changing Perspectives That Show You've Become An Adult.
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