“I had a whole bottle of Jack… lost my voice singing karaoke… ate three Big Macs… woke up on the deck… sprained my ankle… worked the next day… so crazy. Guys, it was so crazy.”
We can all tell a tale of a wild party we survived (present company included).
And though your head, stomach, and significant other may have gotten mad at you, at least you gained… A DRINKING WAR STORY. An epic, comical chronicle you’ll gladly relate to anyone with the pride of a knight in battle, mixed with the giddiness of a child who lost his first tooth. See?!
But lately I’ve been wondering… aren’t we getting a little old for these boozy narratives?
Granted, some drinking war stories I’ve heard over the years have been thoroughly amusing, filled with horrible dancing, wearing the wrong shoes home and heartfelt confessions of friendship. All made more enjoyable by virtue that everyone got home in one piece.
But then our time at university ended, and though still young at heart, we had to grow up a little. Get jobs we can’t be late for, RRSPs, furniture… that comes pre-assembled. I hit 25 and suddenly my ability to be impressed by drinking war stories diminished significantly. And now, it’s almost gone. And I know why.
First, it dawned on me that getting blasted doesn’t require skill.
Passively letting your nervous system be affected by a substance isn’t an accomplishment, yet a ‘drinking war story’ is always told with the satisfaction of winning the gold medal game.
“We had a great group a guys out there. It looked like we couldn’t finish the two-four, but then it all came together.”
This mindset probably started back when we were 17. Back then, when we recounted an evening of blacking out and lawn barfing, friends were impressed, because it was a novel activity, and it took some effort to acquire the hooch from an older sibling. However, well into your twenties, it’s as commonplace as buying milk.
Secondly, post-25 drinking war stories make me worry about that person’s capacity to learn and grow.
Let’s say you began “partying” (good lord I hate that word as a verb) around the age of 17 and you’re now 25. You’ve had eight years (two university degrees) to find the correct level of alcohol that makes you pleasantly tipsy versus the level that makes you break your collarbone.
Friends, if you’re in your late 20s and you STILL can’t hold your liquor, I’m not questioning your low-level alcoholism, I’m questioning your intelligence.
None of this is to say that I’m calling for a second wave of prohibition.
This is a matter of priorities. As we grow the things that we’re proud of should shift toward things that are positive and generative; learning how to cook, travel, relationships, not just the loss of brain cells and self-respect.
So go ahead and have your “hilarious” experience of blacking out at Dauphin Country Fest, but tell the story of your niece taking her first steps, please.
At ease, soldier.
Jane is a writer and performer with the Winnipeg sketch comedy troupe, Hot Thespian Action, an improviser with local improv troupe, Outside Joke, and the host of the CBC Comedy Factory Podcast. Find her on Twitter: @TestarJane