In this post I’m changing from the subject of rock ‘n roll to one with an uncanny connection to rock ‘n roll – the cause of and solution to everybody’s problems: alcohol.
Why alcohol? Because last week was the first week of college for another group of freshmen and it’s a time of year that fills me with both fond memories and loathing of bad choices made during that fateful time 18 years ago. There I was: shy as a bladder in prison, skinny as a rail, as untouched by girlkind as an MMA event taking place inside a Star Wars convention, and yet to taste the sweet and bitter fruits of drunkenness.
I spent the majority of my first semester doing exactly what I set out to do: studying endlessly in my rented room with a cassette copy of Boston’s first album on a continuous loop. Thanks Tom Scholz — my efforts resulted in nearly straight A’s by December break. And despite the foolish decision to attempt Stairway to Heaven on karaoke night, my classmates kind of took to the painfully awkward entity that was myself at age 19. “You just need to lighten up,” they said. “Why don’t you have a few drinks with us?”
By the start of the second semester, I had taken this invitation to drink a little bit as one to drink a lot, in spite of the fact that my lack of girth and drinking experience meant I was already three sheets to the wind quite early in any given evening of carousing. In the process, I regularly made a royal ass of myself, destroying friendships before they had truly begun and shuttling the already-remote prospects I had with girls in my social circle. And thus began a four-years-plus history of steadily-declining grades, unexpected and unexplained punches to the head, vomiting where I should not have vomited and going home with people I should not have gone home with.
Although I have not drank for several years for a variety of religious and health reasons, I would not be so bold as to tell freshmen not to drink. I would rather point out the difference between drinking and the kind of drinking that repels everyone and everything of reasonable social stature. For what it’s worth, here’s my advice.
Drink in a pub, not a club. Despite the fairer gender’s insistence that clubs are “a fun place to dance,” clubs exist for one reason and one reason only: to pour as much poor, cheap booze down the collective gullet of college students and their less educated counterparts as possible, in the meantime pummelling you with bad pop music blared over a shitty sound system by a DJ completely oblivious to any fader on his board aside from “bass.”
If you still wish to drink in clubs after that stellar endorsement, at least follow this advice: never, ever try to pick up girls in clubs. Why? Because you won’t. How do you know that, you ask? I know this based on the very fact that you’re reading this blog. I’m basing this on the fact that you’ve read anything at all. If you have ever gotten good grades or ever held a job that entailed any responsibility whatsoever, you have already sent a message out to the world that you care about your future and the consequences of your actions.
I am almost convinced that those people who seem to excel at the club lifestyle simply dematerialize into the ether at the age of 21, having exasperated their usefulness as a stumbling block to individual human progress. You may “succeed” at a pick-up once or twice, but trust me when I say that these experiences will lead to much fear, loathing and trips to the doctor.
“But” – you say – “I know lots of nice girls that go to clubs.” Maybe you do, but most of the time they are there with club-inclined friends or to dance – they’re not going to sleep with you. If you want to meet girls in a drinking environment (and chances are that if you’re reading this blog you are more interested in an actual relationship than a casual hookup) do so in a pub. They generally attract a higher class of girl and there is typically less tolerance for the kind of alcohol poisoning-inducing consumption prevalent in clubs, which means you have less chance of killing your game by becoming a drunken assclown.
Better yet, though, don’t associate drinking with meeting girls at all. If you’re in college you should already be surrounded by single and looking girls on a daily basis anyway – learn early on in life to approach the opposite sex without having to use alcohol as a crutch.
Learn your peak. There is a certain point in most drinking experiences where you feel at your best – you’re not soddingly drunk, but just socially lubricated enough to have a good time. This is the best you will ever feel in any given drinking experience. Unfortunately, being human beings our first instinct is to think “Well, if this much booze made me feel good, even more will make me feel better.” It won’t. Personally speaking, the only things continuing to drink after this point achieved were increasing surliness and a nasty hangover.
The bottom line is, when you reach this “peak point” – which you will have to determine for yourself because everybody is different – stop. If it’s going to be a long night, start drinking again only after the effect has worn off somewhat. This way, you may be able to hit several peaks in a single evening.
Generally, friends you meet at bars are not your friends. Many people consider social drinking a vital part of the college experience, a key part of learning about the world outside of home and school. Here’s what you’ll learn: drunk people (including you) are assholes, drunk people who are not assholes are often assholes when they’re sober, and friendships formed around alcohol and nothing else are generally not what you’d call thick-and-thin relationships. Your best friends in college will almost invariably be formed around school or activities of mutual interest.
Good luck, have fun, and watch out for yourself.