Saturday, August 15, 2009

Is it Possible to Have Fun Without Drinking?

By Brian Polk

It seems no matter what I’m doing, I generally find a way to incorporate the sauce. Work, school, watching television, writing, bathing, eating—I’ve been drunk through almost all of life’s activities. Of course, there comes a point in everyone’s life—whether it’s the morning following a 13-day binge, or the day after turning 28—when he or she stumbles upon a query: Must I rely on alcohol in order to have fun? To hoards of folks in their twenties, the answer is an unequivocal yes. But there’s a fine line between using the hooch as an enabler and using it as a crutch. And if you find yourself drunkenly stumbling all over this line, perhaps it’s time to consider the alternatives—because there are ways to have fun without drinking. There just has to be, right?

Just for the sake of convincing myself that there is in fact sober fun to be had, I came up with a few activities for the aspiring teetotalers:

1. Disregard Social Regulations. People drink to blur the parameters of socially acceptable behavior. They’re fed up with the cultural dictates that limit them to speaking with an inside voice, not drooling all over themselves, and refraining from atonal Journey sing-alongs at one in the morning. In this sense, alcohol is a great liberator. However, once you realize the societal commandments that govern fashion, manners, and mores are pretty much random bullshit, you won’t need 15 cocktails to make you feel better about tying a tie to your head and yelling incoherently as you burn up the dance floor with a crappy rendition of the hustle. Personally constructing your own notions of what passes as acceptable behavior is the first step to merriment without the booze. After all, you certainly won’t be kicked out of the club for acting goofy around hordes of drunkards.

2. Play Some Games. I remember telling a story about how a group of friends and I got so drunk we decided to play hide-and-seek at four in the morning. About halfway through the story—when I got to the part about how much fun we had playing this popular children’s game—I had an epiphany: Why did we need alcohol to enjoy the exuberance that comes with playing stupid games? I quickly realized we didn’t. Fun is fun no matter how drunk or sober you may be. So instead of saying things like, “We should totally get trashed and play Clue.” You should say, “How ‘bout some Clue?” For some added spice, you could dress up as the characters and transform the board game into a theatrical affair. (However, if you choose this route, make sure no one has been drinking. I’ve seen drunken fistfights break out during casting, because everybody—and I mean everybody—wants to be Colonel Mustard.)

3. Call the Friends. There’s nothing fun about being in a constant state of solitude. Sure, everyone needs some time alone to stare at the ceiling and wonder why life is taking so long. But if that’s all you do—and especially if you introduce alcohol into this crippling loneliness—you need to get out more. Find some friends with some hobbies. Call these friends and have some fun. Are you a WWII buff? Get some buddies together and reenact the Battle of the Bulge. Do you enjoy select European cheeses? Find a cheese shop and throw a party. There are literally several get-togethers you could host that don’t involve alcohol: Coffee-drinking contests, pants-folding seminars, surprise pot-lucks (which all invariably become no-lucks since no one knew they were suppose to bring food), skateboard-jousting matches, the Back to the Future trilogy-watching challenge, and of course, no underwear under here bedtime slumber parties. You could also tailor the festivities to the benefit of your own self-interest. How about a taking out the trash party? Raking the leaves hoedown? Black mold-scrubbing jamboree? Dog poop picking up pick me up? You see: fun can be constructive.

4. Prank Calling! Remember as kids when you used to call up the bowling alley and ask if they had 10-pound balls? And then when the bowling worker guys said yes, you asked them how they were able to keep their pants up? While you may dismiss the prank as “kid’s stuff,” it’s still funny. There’s something about prank calling that provides a jolt of joy and self-confidence that can brighten even the most painfully monotonous day. So don’t stop with the bowling alley when there are plenty of other people just waiting to be prank called. Order stacks of pizzas to lousy ex-boyfriends’ houses. Call the Whitehouse (202-456-1111) and ask why the president hasn’t taken a firm stance against the extraterrestrials that have developed thought-reading technology that can penetrate even our most fortified foil helmets. Call a refrigerator repair shop and ask them if their refrigerators are running. However, since Caller ID is ubiquitous these days, you may want to wait for your drunk friend to pass out so you can use his phone.

5. Smoke Pot. Do you remember the song about the lady who swallowed the fly? Then she swallowed a spider to catch the fly. And she eventually swallowed a cow to catch the goat to catch the dog to catch the cat to catch the bird to catch the spider (that wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her) to catch the fly. And no one knows why she swallowed that fly. (Perhaps she’ll die.) This song is a lot like drugs. The fly is alcohol, and once you’re done swallowing it, you have to swallow increasingly dangerous drugs just to have fun. (Perhaps you’ll die.) Here are some alternate lyrics to the “Old Lady” song that apply to most of my friends:

There was a kid who snorted some blow.

Oh gosh I don’t know, why he snorted some blow!

He snorted some blow ‘cause he couldn’t get ‘shrooms.

He couldn’t get ‘shrooms and he was tired of acid.

He was tired acid and he couldn’t afford hash.

He couldn’t afford hash ‘cause he bought too much pot.

He bought too much pot and he drank too much beer. (YUMMY!)

That enlarged and in charged and bloated his tummy.

He drank too much beer ‘cause he really loved booze.

I don’t know why he really loved booze.

Perhaps he’ll lose.

So I guess there you have it. Once you’ve tried everything else, there’s still a large part of the day that needs to be lived. And if you stopped watching television, what else is there to do? Maybe it’s a downward spiral with a series of chain reactions you just can’t avoid. I suppose you might want to just throw in the towel and admit to yourself that you can’t have fun without chemically impairing your ability to operate heavy machinery.

Jeez, you didn't realize you were this fucked, did you?

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