I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting old and boring, but as I’ve grown out of my student lifestyle I’ve become a bit disillusioned with the supposed glamour of alcohol. Obviously, this doesn’t stop me from drinking it socially, regularly and with gusto, which is a shame as I am totally incapable of holding it. At university I was always a notorious lightweight, but a couple of years ago I discovered I have a minor liver condition that causes alcohol intolerance. Nothing life-threatening, but it did explain why I had always been a complete let-down on the drinking front (and a notorious Ring of Fire cheat to boot).
Last Thursday before last I was off work with a fever. I managed to send a few emails from home and had a bash at understanding the hype surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey, but for the most part the day was spent writhing around in bed, sweating like a buffalo and balancing ice packs on my forehead as I slid in and out of fitful sleep. The day afterwards I still felt a little peaky, but I had some important shit to do in the office so had no choice but to man up and go in. Also, it was my workmate Brad’s thirtieth birthday. Although I didn’t feel in tip-top condition, I was under the impression it was going to be a case of a few sophisticated drinks after work rather than a partying-like-it’s-1999 type situation. Unfortunately, we ended up taking the office beer bong to the pub with us.
I don’t really remember anything past 9pm, but reliable sources tell me I spent the evening in uncontrollable tears over how lovely it is that Brad is getting married in November and loudly regaling total strangers with Jimmy Carr’s infamous ‘most offensive joke in the world’ (Google it). I was also violently ill for about 90 minutes in the ladies room; not in a cool bar or throbbing nightclub, but the pub. The fucking pub! Eventually, at some embarrassingly premature hour, I was put to bed in our Managing Director’s flat opposite the pub, unanimously deemed to be too drunk to make my own way home. I woke up at 4am, still pissed, gasping for water and eight inches from my boss’s not unimpressive bedside collection of personal lubricant. At 7am I slunk out, leaving my poor boss slumped over his own sofa and consumed with an all-encompassing sense of shame and guilt.
How does this happen!? Obviously on this occasion I suspect the
beer wine bong may have played a significant part, but other than that I have no clue. I don’t even really enjoy the taste of alcohol, with the obvious exceptions of those delicious, creamy cocktails that taste like dessert and my favourite gin and cranberry (gets you pleasantly tipsy and promotes a healthy urinary tract – what’s not to like?) I never crave it. In a fit of hormonal angst I’m more likely to reach for my credit card than the bottle and go mental on ASOS. I guess in the end I’m forced to admit most of us do it because everyone else is. Because we like to have something to do with our hands, because it makes it easier to talk to strangers. A little bit can induce a good mood (or exacerbate a bad one), and sometimes it’s just nice to have an excuse to be a bit silly. But sometimes it goes too far, and you end up hurling up out of the back of a black cab or shagging someone wildly inappropriate. You know that dreadful, immovable sense of shame you get the second you wake up after a heavy night out? The one where it feels like a black abyss of humiliation has opened up in your stomach and is sucking you in from the inside out? I call it the Fear, and I get that every single time, regardless of what happened the night before. When I was at university, the first order of the day – even ahead of swilling out the brimming saucepan of vomit on my bedside table – was to run into one of my housemates’ rooms in a frenzied, hysterical fit: “Fuck! Fuck, what did I do? Did I make a twat of myself? Was I sick on anyone!?”
But at least I am a happy drunk. Admittedly also loud, obnoxious and apparently over-emotional about workmates’ impending nuptials, but never angry or violent. How dreadful it would be to wake up with the all-encompassing sense of shame and also a set of leg-irons (!) The walk of shame would doubtlessly be made fifty times worse if you had to first get an obliging mate to post bail and then endure a twenty minute lecture from the local constabulary about Responsibility before being allowed to go home. Fortunately, I don’t actually know anyone like this (with the single, notable exception of my old housemate Becky T, who completely flipped out when a six-foot prop forward from the Loughborough women’s rugby team accidentally spilled snakebite on her hair. Violence is never funny, but the memory of Beck being manhandled off the dance floor and out of the Union by two burly security guards is one of my most treasured).
Anyway, last weekend was a call to action. I had already freaked myself out a couple of weeks ago by watching an episode of Embarrassing Bodies that featured the pickled liver of somebody who’d died of long-term alcohol poisoning. It was hard and black and bloody, and although I’m nowhere near the level of drinking that the liver’s previous owner had so enthusiastically indulged in, it’s my ego that is my most immediate concern. Beer bong or no, it’s frankly mortifying to be carried to bed at 10pm by your workmates. I did take some comfort in the fact that the birthday boy also had to be dragged home by his fiancée at a similar hour, much to the relief of the two strangers he had accosted in the smoking area. I have no idea what the luckless pair had done to deserve it, but for some reason Brad thought they’d be interested to hear of his lifelong struggle with social smoking, all the while puffing away on a pack of Marlborough Lites. (They weren’t.)
So, from now on I am on a mission to drink responsibly, with no vomming in public toilets, saucepans or other handy vessels, no chatting shit at total strangers and no accidentally early bedtimes. It’s much more fun that way for everyone anyway.
How much do you drink, and how often? Do you know when to stop or do you still manage to make a total arse of yourself? I’d love to know!