One of the things about me that is routinely commented upon is my drinking. This is not to say that I drink too much, or too often – it is to say that I drink well. My style attracts notice. That, and I perhaps indulge from time to time in drunken tweeting, which is like drunk texting in many regards with the important exception that it is on the Internet, forever. It is a high-stakes game, but I get off on the adrenaline.
Personally, I don’t see what makes people in my circle look to me as some sort of drinking authority (or authority on drinks, whatever). My actual repertoire of cocktails is slim. I don’t buy expensive liquor. I believe in cheap, easy wine. Regarding beer I could wax neither philosophical nor sophistical.
My best guess is that I seem to hold my own, despite the situation. Raucous party, elegant mixer, lounge or bar, I seem to comport myself well. It wasn’t always that way, and I admit that I have my lapses. Yet still I seem to garner a sort of…hmm, admiration is too strong…approval for my habits of consumption.
If I’m to be counted among the ranks of discerning drinkers, I suppose I had better start sharing my wisdom. This is not going to be an etiquette lesson. I can’t really teach you self-control or improve your palate. What I can do is throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see if any of it sticks. Shall we begin?
Your Body - As with most things, biology will place limits upon your abilities – in this case, your ability to drink with authority. If you weigh 150 pounds, you will have a different drinking equation than the man who weighs 200. Women and men differ in many key areas: taste, alcohol absorption rate, and relative worth at the workplace. The key point is this: Your body type affects the length, strength, and frequency of your drinking.
You must experiment to determine your limits. A good pace, learning to maintain a constant level of inebriation – these are within reach for anyone. For men, this is more than a little important. There is no greater object of scorn than a man who does not know his limits, especially when exceeding those limits brings on the debilitating effects of over-consumption. Have you ever held a buddy’s hand while he cried and puked at the same time? You hated him and that awful hurk-hurk-sob just a little, didn’t you? Yes, yes you did. Don’t make people hate you.
Your Selection - This is a thorny area, because we are out of the realm of science and into a completely subjective topic. Because it invites disagreement and irresolvable debate, I shall punt. There are liquors, beers, and wines I do not like; I will not tell you that you can’t drink them. One of the greatest pieces of drinking guidance I ever received was from a John Cleese special on wine. After explaining wine a bit and giving you a good basic understanding of the various grapes, the message was essentially to drink what you like.
A man may genuinely enjoy the taste of Mad Dog 20/20 and despise the taste of a well-aged scotch. No amount of training will overcome it. But if he derives genuine enjoyment, who am I to judge? (Nota Bene: I will still judge you. Always. Silently.)
Your Reason - Drinking is something we do to add to our lives. It heightens joy. It bonds you with others. It can be a comforting balm in times of pain. But drinking is not meant to take the place of genuine interaction, or to deaden the soul, to blot out memories. It adds to – but should never comprise – the better part of an experience.
Your “reason” is not only the specific purpose of your drinking. Reason also means that you must preserve your judgment and good sense. This doesn’t mean you don’t get merry. It means that you don’t get so roaring drunk that you can’t even hail a cab, and lapse into the aforementioned puke-sob-puke spiral. You can still decide not to hit on the woman who is not your wife; you can still decide not to accept the ride from the nice stranger in the van; you can decide to be a human being instead of giving yourself over to being a chemically-controlled ape.
I trust you aren’t too disappointed. This is not all I have to say on the subject, but with the way I blog it is most likely all I will say.