Random thoughts on alcohol

sapporo

A beer to celebrate the end of first-year university.

It boggles my mind that almost every single culture and civilization on Earth has some kind of national alcohol. The Japanese have their sake. The Russians have their vodka. The French have their champagne. What made our ancestors want to rot a bunch of fruit, drink it, act crazy as a result, and think “Hey! This rotten fruit tastes awful and makes us go berserk…let’s do this more and, like, make it an art form!”

Now, I’m by no means a member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement. I believe in having (responsible) fun, and I think kids should be educated early on what alcohol and drugs are, and what they do to the body. Having an incredibly sheltered childhood, I remember it wasn’t until planning/health class in high school that I learned there were different types of alcohol and drugs! I thought all alcohol was the same and all drugs were the same; I didn’t know beer is weaker than vodka, or that marijuana is not physically addictive but heroin surely is.

I didn’t get my first real drinking experience until a family trip to Mexico in my last year of high school. I was eighteen, Mexican-legal, and travelling with my rather liberal aunt and uncle – the type of people who like having a glass of wine with their bread and cheese at dinnertime. I tried some really good drinks, but I still didn’t like the alcoholic taste in them – not yet. I remember feverishly trying to fall asleep after only two cocktails, my heart thumping like mad.

Thankfully, I had enough experience to not get surprised when my graduation after-prom came around. Granted, I was still frightfully naive. At a house party I drank a lot of cider thinking it was juice…and mixed it with…beer. I know, right? Shivers. That night, I felt the warm blurriness of alcohol and the thrill of underage drinking – and I couldn’t say I disliked it :/

molson

Obligatory national beer one must drink to be patriotic.

By first year university, I was pretty well-acquainted with this phenomenon called alcohol. Being nineteen and legal in my jurisdiction, my friends and I explored the city’s pubs. It was fun. We had an excuse to be loud and potty-mouthed, although we rarely got truly drunk because we simply could not afford to at outside venues! I lived with my parents and so did most of my friends, so we had to be discreet. (By the way mom, if you’re reading this, I ALWAYS made responsible decisions and back-up plans! :D) My alcohol-experience-high-point was on my twentieth birthday, when my friends were all buying me drinks. My vision was very short-sighted by the end of the night, but it was a good night.

After that, we went pubbing less and less. The allure of it got boring. Or maybe we just got old. Truth is, drinking and getting drunk really isn’t that fun. I could think of a dozen things healthier and more fun than drinking. It isn’t even the drunken sensation I’m talking about; I just really dislike the feeling of having way too much carbonated liquid in your belly. You feel fat and gassy. It’s not pleasant at all.

Plus, drinking is only fun when you’re with people you trust. It’s fun when it’s low-key and there’s no pressure to do anything stupid. When I drink with people I don’t know too well, or have a professional relationship with, I get anxious and wind up tighter than I usually am. Which is not the point of drinking at all.

A craft beer place recently opened up down my block. Which is really, really cool, because now I get to be pretentious and drink beer from craft breweries and sip coffee from independent roasters. It’s all part of the 20-something liberal arts anti-establishment lifestyle. Plus I can stagger back home in five minutes if I choose to do so.

Alcohol is a poison and sometimes I wonder why the hell it’s legal to buy the stuff when you can quite literally die from it… But hey, it’s ingrained in our culture and it’s here to stay unless we want Al Capones to run our countries. Like I said, it’s okay to have fun, but I believe in taking responsible steps to ensure your fun stays fun and nothing regrettable happens. Because where’s the fun in vomit and  embarrassing booty calls?

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