A Happy Drunk
Drinking customs are different wherever you go. We're British and we're abroad - we want to be sociable, so of course we're going to have a drink...or two. Here's my issue: I used to be a six, now I’m a four. Actually a long time ago I used to be an eight – but that was way back in my college days. Almost everybody swaggered around back then saying they were a seven or an eight – and I don’t mean seven namby-pamby ones. I mean seven of the big ones. Big manly frothy ones.
I'll explain - it used to take me seven big tasty, chewy pints to feel wobbly – you know that feeling when you stand up from the pub table and you need a Fred Astair half step, or a palm of your hand gingerly placed on your neighbour to regain the stability you had when you sat down a few hours before. That little moment, the tell-tale sign to your fellow gurning revelers that, yes, your blood chemistry has changed a little for the worse or better, depending on your point of view.
From my point of view it’s almost always been for the better. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have to have alcohol inside me to get through life. No, there’s a term for those kind of people – that’s right “Shirt stained alcoholic bums” – but I’ve always found myself to be changed into a more carefree version of me. Yes, I admit it, I am the consummate “happy drunk.” Indeed, people have always given me a knowing wink, forefinger to the side of the nose, and nod of the head, kind of gesture and said those defining, appreciative words of approval “yup, there he goes – he’s a happy drunk, you know.” It’s a badge of honor I wear with pride (next to my Boy Scout Beer Chugging badge and Eagle Scouts Distilling Merit Award).
Why so proud? Because, I’ve seen the others. All the other types, and there are many. The Jekyll and Hide types that turn on you after a couple of Snifters. The not-so-fun-to-be-out-drinking-with-group. We all know one, we’ve all been embarrassed by them and some of us have had to clean up their vomit from our mother’s carpet. Yes, I know, I see all the knowing, nodding heads out there.
Yes, I’d rather be me than the angry drunk. The guy that enters the pub all smiles and leaves the pub all flailing fists and spraying saliva. But to his credit, the angry drunk is also the fastest -to-sober-up drunk with his “What, me barred from this bastard place, f**k you, f**k your f**king mother, and all you f**king baaaastards….I hate all of yas, ya bastards……… so same time tomorrow night, right? See ya, lads. F**king good night this was. Cheers, mates!
His schizophrenia is only outdone by the Foreign Accent Syndrome drunk. Five pints and he’ll assume your accent and hug you cheek to flinching cheek like he’s your countryman after repelling an invasion. This is not to be confused with the Mississippi Accent Syndrome which is more common and much less fun. The “Mississippi Man” can range from the Elvis Impersonator (thank you very much ma’am) to the Negro spiritual singer, which can be awkward depending on location and pub clientele. No, the Foreign Accent Syndrome drunk is different – he’s somehow also consumed by 1950’s and 60’s Hollywood B-movie acting so that he, ow you zay, asks for zee alcohol wiz a flourish and wiz ‘ands waving like zis, yes, oui? Or is compelled to ad “oodi voodi boodi” when asking for Swedish vodka or “vee ask ze qvestions, Englisher pig!” when ordering a Becks Light. If you are one of these kinds of drinkers it’s best to join a specialist drinking club so you can go on a pub crawl as a theme, such as a European Union Outing or a NAFTA Committee field trip. That way it makes more sense if any of your membership is both a Foreign Accent Syndrome drunk and an angry bastard – as the fights are more realistic when the yelling is in different languages (although Mississippians from the plantation are generally too polite to brawl – “I do declare that I will not be raising my fists in anger, no lordy lordy”).
Angry drunks and foreign accent drunks are at least entertaining. The Droning-on Drunk is a member of the bar fraternity to be avoided at all costs. There are two species of droning on drunks; the sedentary variety, usually found at the end of the bar trying to make eye contact with any unsuspecting fool within ten feet (and there are always free barstools next to him) and the roving Droning-on Drunk that lurks around the fringes of groups of revelers trying to get the eye contact and the “in” to start mouthing on about some boring factoid that will send drinkers scrambling into the kitchen to find sharp implements to slash their own and their neighbors wrists just to make it stop!
The Droner’s favorite subject? –Well it really can be anything. The only consistent fact is that the subject is a) nothing that you are remotely interested in and b) is not related to any conversation that you are currently having with your fellow drinkers, or indeed you’ve had with anyone…in the last year. To try to engage with the Droning-on drunk is pointless. It is seen as a sign of weakness and your fate is, in effect, sealed – you will have become the helpless prey, and although your friends may pat you on the back, know that they are doing so as they drift imperceptibly to other parts of the bar leaving you to be devoured by dissertations on concrete failure ratios in bridges, the correct way to prune a Hawthorn bush or the voting record of the vice-President of Namibia.
No, I’m none of these. I’m a proud, happy, merry, jovial drunk which makes me the best drinking buddy you’ll ever find. I’ll laugh in your face when you shout “I’ll fight ya, ya baaastard!” I’ll grin from ear to ear when you sing the wrong words to someone else’s National Anthem with a horrible lilt and I’ll patiently smirk when you’re telling me incredible details about the potential energy forever bound within mattress coils.
So, here’s to you. But mostly, here’s to me. Cheers!