The Evolution of Drinking
As I embark on what I hope will be a dry January, I figured I’d reflect on half a lifetime of drinking. Here we go, in chronological order:
Ages 16-18: Beverage of Choice: MadDog 20/20. Preferably Orange Jubilee or Peaches & Cream (Lemon Ice, “Grape” or god forbid Banana Red were to be avoided – too formidable an adversary). The good doctor was always writing prescriptions; prescriptions to get you fucked up. I swear that shit also raises your body temperature by at least 10 degrees, must be the antifreeze. Drinking Style: Courageous. You can get through about half of a double bottle before your body realizes it’s being poisoned. Then the peer pressure and your general pride pushes you through the rest. As we gained experience, we’d sometimes go for two double MD 20/20s. To this day though, I am convinced that nobody in the world can drink three doubles in one evening. I’ve had two friends come close to that threshold; both were hospitalized.
Ages 19-20: Beverage of Choice: Aristocrat Vodka (preferably the 100-proof light blue label) mixed with cranberry juice or orange juice – whatever mixer you could get for free from the cafeteria. This is the era when every liquor consumed comes out of a plastic bottle and your older buddy’s back hurts from reaching for the bottom shelf so often. You can’t afford any better and you’re candidly unworthy of any better. Imagine mixing Belvedere with Safeway Select Cranberry “Juice”. Drinking Style: Aggressive but within boundaries. Definitely trying to get drunk so that you have more courage to talk to girls but trying to stop just short of that line in the sand at which they reject you for being too hammered.
Ages 21-23: Beverage of Choice: Jim Beam and Coke, No Ice. After years of MD 20/20 and Aristocrat your esophagus yearns for something slightly less caustic and you don’t want to order a drink so amateur that the bartender double-checks your ID. The “no ice” request was my own personal wrinkle. I figured I’d get more bang for my buck if I didn’t have ice cubes taking up volume in my glass. Drinking Style: Completely Reckless. Young and exuberant with a whopping $34k a year salary and renting a crappy house with your three closest hooligans from college or high school, the level of energy is through the damn roof and you’re out to conquer the town. Chance of black-out….. does it rain in Seattle? This is the era when almost every wknd includes a 230 AM barf session on your lawn and/or backyard bicycle jousting. All of your neighbors loathe you and the blue recycling bin you carry out to the curb on Monday morning is a 40lb embarrassment of empties.
Ages 24-27: Beverage of Choice: Bombay and Tonic: Taste buds change, you have a bit more money in your pocket, and there’s something inherently classy about Gin. That and all the quinine in the Tonic Water combats malaria. Are you a 19th century British Gentleman stationed in Delhi? Do some daytime barhopping on a hot day and keep thinking about that question. Drinking Style: Tortoise and the Hare. You pace yourself much better than back in the day and cross the finish line with more dignity, but you’re still waddling home with blurry vision.
Ages 28-31: Beverage of Choice: Belvedere and Soda. For some of us vodka is in our DNA, others just want to minimize sugar while getting just as drunk. You’re an actual adult now streamlining your life, including your booze. Drinking Style: Almost under control. You are a high functioning drunk now with a high tolerance, but you still slip up occasionally and those slip ups can be aggressive. Black-outs have given way to the occasional brown-out, and the weird thing is that you miss the good old-fashioned black-outs – like a lost purity.
Ages 32+: Beverage of choice: Stiff, complicated cocktails like Boulevardiers and Diamondbacks. You’ve led a good, boozy life and only the finest things in life excite you. Your palate has grown sophisticated and…………. Ya, 10% that and 90% the fact that you’re a degenerate who has been drinking half of your life. You now mix booze with more booze because your tolerance is through the damn roof. Soda, ginger beer, etc. dilute the potency of your drink and you just won’t stand for it. Every now and then you’ll make a cocktail for one of your more mild-mannered friends only to watch him get hammered before even finishing the glass. Question is, should you ease up on your habits or is your boy just a complete and utter PUSSY! Drinking Style: Cautious but vulnerable, like a gazelle on the Serengeti. You’re likely married and maybe even have kids by this point. You have shit to do, people to answer to, and you actually enjoy a productive weekend morning. Here’ the rub though, you’re a boozer at heart. Two drinks in the right company and the recovering meathead you’ve tried so hard to tame starts roaring. An intense yearning for cigarettes, weed, 10 more drinks, and general debauchery could consume you. National Geographic has yet to film this wild chase, but it’s one of the most exciting events in nature: Booze-fueled beast of yesteryear vs. the veneer of a responsible adult. Each additional drink you consume is like a shot of adrenaline to the former and a gunshot wound to the latter.
Middle Aged and Beyond: My guess is whiskey neat or vodka on the rocks. Or maybe obscure, ethnic liquors like Cynar until I retire from drinking satisfied with all I’ve tasted and experienced. Perhaps I’ll resort to stealing my teenage son’s Orange Jubilees; leaving behind only the Banana Reds or that putrid Coco Loco “flavor”. I’ll blame him when my wife asks who keeps barfing on the lawn. As punishment I’ll send him to Home Depot to buy grass seed and regrow all the bald spots. Damn Teenagers!