Liquor Lecture – A Public Service Announcement – Column

Liquor Lecture

A Public Service Announcement

by Lex Marburger
illustration by Chris Sherman

Okay, I’ve been writing these things for over a year now, and hopefully you’ve been following the necessary steps to becoming a fully learned connoisseur of alcohol. Now, I believe it’s time to make a bold statement; a statement that seems to fly in the face of all I’ve been talking about; a statement that reeks of inconsistency and may lead to bad blood and distrust; a statement that may make many accuse me of being a sellout.

Don’t drink too much.

Yes, it sounds like I’m caving in from the pressure of hundreds – uh, dozens – uh, well, I really haven’t gotten any letters from offended or worried parents or AA groups. Rest assured, I’m not giving up drinking, or even thinking about it. I’m simply passing on long-acquired knowledge that has come from many barrail-clutching nights, from couch-sprawled afternoons, from club-stumbling excursions. To wit:

It’s better to get drunk than to be drunk.

Let’s think about this. You’re at a club, or a party, and there’s a keg in the back and a fully stocked bar in the front. You tear into a bottle of Jim Beam, and wash it down with cups of Fullers ESB. You dig in and build your trench for the night. Time passes, and things begin to get blurry, the last drops of Beam sizzling down your throat. The next thing you know, the bitterly bright sun is searing your eyes, you’re in your bed, clothes and shoes still on, with a funny taste in your mouth, an aching left arm, and mysterious stains on your jeans. What the hell did you do last night? You dimly remember… nothing. It’s all just swirling color. You groan, roll over and –

“Hey, lover,” whispers the monstrosity gazing back at you. “You were amazing.”

Or perhaps this is more familiar. Imagine if you will, a typical night of drinking with your friends. They come over, laughing, yelling “PAAAAAARTY!” You sit down and crack the bottle. Fast forward a few hours. Paul’s Boutique by The Beastie Boys is on the stereo, pumping out at full volume, the bottle is a quarter empty, and you’re all jumping around, cackling like mad hyenas. Fast forward another hour. The bottle is half empty, people are slowing down, there’s Prayers On Fire by The Birthday Party playing, one of your friends is moaning about how much of a bitch his girlfriend is, and the lightweight is throwing up in your bathroom. One more hour goes by, and the bottle is empty. Tom Waits’ Bone Machine is on. Everybody is slouched over something. No one moves. Two of your friends have passed out, but not before puking on your carpet. In the bathroom, people’s sense of aim has declined, and the back of the poor lightweight who passed out on the cold tile is now nauseatingly damp. As for you, the room sways and rotates like some fever dream nightmare, as drool escapes the corner of your mouth and puddles in your lap. Fade to black.

Not a very pretty sight, hmmm? Now, it’s obvious that life would be great if we could keep the entire scene confined to the first few hours. It’s actually relatively easy to do. It’s called pacing. By this time, you must (or should) have a “standard” alcohol that you drink, and you probably know your limits. Let’s take Bass Ale as an example. Let’s say you know you get far too drunk after consuming ten (in a four hour period). The hardest step comes first: count. Get a good buzz on with four and then stop. No, not for the entire night, you fool. Crack open your fifth, and take your time with it. Give it about half an hour, maybe forty five minutes. Proceed like this for the rest of the night. If done correctly, you can last until the sun comes up and keep going beyond that, if you want to. I know, I’ve tried.

The theory is this. The body, with a normally functioning liver (okay, I know that many of yours might be running below average, and some of you have livers that are about as useful as a hunk of Roquefort cheese) processes the equivalent of one drink every hour. If you can get to a healthy buzz point by limiting yourself to that ratio, you’re able to stay in sync with that happy buzz and not fall into the carousel head state that makes the world your private, inarticulate, sloppy hell.

So, there you have it. Drinking to excess is important at times (say for example, you just broke up with your sweetheart, lost your job, family reunions) but usually, it’s just not efficient. Don’t waste your money and nighttime hours stumbling about in a forgetful haze. Don’t run the risk of waking up with a beast in your bed, and a strange itching down below. Be smart. Stay conscious.

Any words of advice for your fellow readers? Do you want to defend alcoholism? Is oblivion preferable to any other state of existence? Write us and have your say. We’ll use it… Maybe.