Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What do you mean "Last Call"?

Due to the profuse complaints about St. Patrick's Day, I got to thinking. Not wanting to get into a political or religious argument (Why the Irish would celebrate a man who came in and destroyed their heritage and why they would celebrate it with drinking and green, etc) I will limit this to what I know.


The main problem that most people seemed to have with St. Patrick's Day was the lack of decorum. Drunks wandering around making asses of themselves and the world as the boot green and rally by falling into some strangers silicone rack mumbling "kibs me imasdjkl;;oisdf'po ... drunk". That St. Patrick's Day is an excuse to drink past tolerance, vomit publicly without style, and engage in consequence free lewd behavior is primarily due to one thing: America has a terrible drinking culture.

Primarily I blame the temperance movement, the puritans, and the rest of the holdovers from prohibition. I'd like to blame MADD but they probably wouldn't be such a problem for me if people weren't driving drunk, which wouldn't as prominent if America had a decent drinking culture.

Let me explain. I went to Dartmouth College. If you learn nothing else at Dartmouth, you learn how to drink. How to drink well and plentifully. How to maintain composure, how to drink past excess and still stay safe, how to deal with a situation that has gone past your control, and so on. The palette, not so much. But that can always be developed. The basics are much more difficult.

I don't know why it is that Americans have to feel ashamed of their drinking, have to hide away their desire for the sauce, have to restrict their drinking to specific days. Especially in New York where there is always a designated driver in a cab and subways a plenty. I can understand a desire to avoid the calories, but that precludes beer not all the plethora of booze. Really its the puritan shame of alcohol that has forced drinking to be kept hidden, to remain silent, and only to rear its ugly head on drinking holidays and spring breaks. Clearly a drinking culture would not prevent the coeds from taking off their tops for beads and cameras only to blame their fathers and the frozen margaritas when they get back home, but it would at least give the rest of society perspective. The problem with spring breakers is not their hedonism, it's that they aren't any good at it.

If people learned how to drink, were taught from a much younger age how to handle their alcohol, how to handle themselves in public before during and after drinking, how to handle someone who has had too much and someone who has had too little, we would be much better off.

But drinking is just another aspect of America's culture of subtle repression. The same one that says men always want sex but can't tell that to women. The same one that asks us all to lie about everything because it will somehow make society function better or at least look better for suburban TV. The same one that says set the alarm for 5:30 am, I have to be at work early tomorrow, btw I hate my job and my boss and they are asking me to take a pay cut or a pink slip.

No wonder we stayed in last night, drinking often and well.

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