Why do we drink like we do?

Last week a friend of mine turned 21. Let’s call her L. Lewis. No, no, no, that’s too obvious. Lori L.

Anyway for Lori L.’s birthday, we observed the typical rituals for this momentous occasion. There was the pre-bar bash as Lori L. and her friends waited for midnight to roll around, passing the time with quarters, shot glasses, and that mixture of club/80s music that girls can’t get enough of.

There was the arrival at the bar at the stroke of midnight for an outpouring of mixed drinks and dancing of an ever diminishing coordination. Finally there was the long walk home after last call, a walk that had seemed so short on the way to the bar. And throughout the celebration there was the alcohol for the birthday girl, who, trying as she might, failed to reach the 21-drink benchmark that we, her friends, had set for her.

All of this gave me pause to think about what we, Lori L.’s “friends,” had done to her. What kind of “friends” make friends drink dangerously large quantities of alcohol on their birthdays of all days? Bringing them drink after drink after drink. Animals don’t even act this way. Except maybe those little trained monkeys – they could bring people drink after drink after drink.

But I doubt that Bananas and Coco could master the intricacies of a shooter such as the Flaming Blue Jesus or Slow Comfortable Screw Against the Wall with Satin Pillows the Hard Way. No, they’d probably just bring you out a Bud with a little pink umbrella in it (one bottle of Budweiser, one little pink umbrella).

Why do we drown our friends’ birthdays with mixed drinks we’d be embarrassed to order on any other day? Are we trying to kill them? Perhaps. But more importantly, where do we get these crazy ideas about alcohol anyway? One place I think is the deceptive entertainment industry.

The movies we watched in junior high filled up our heads with ideas of how much fun high school was going to be. But instead of regular weekend rages at someone whose parents were perpetually in Europe’s house, where beer flowed like water and the football team built towering pyramids of empties, my friends and I sneaked six-packs down cellar doors while their mothers were upstairs watching Lifetime.

The movies we watched in high school have only led to some disappointing weekends here at GW. Where is our Bluto? Our Animal House? Why do all the fraternity parties I’ve been to make me envy sardines for the room they have in their little tin containers? It’s all Hollywood’s fault for getting my darned expectations up so high.

What can we expect after graduation? Cheers says that we’ll be hanging out in places where everybody knows your name, but when the people who know your name are a postal worker, an unemployed house painter, a burnt-out pitcher, and a Freudian psychologist, it’s time to change your name.

And it’s not only Hollywood that deceives us, those Madison Avenue advertising executives do their fair share too. Alcohol doesn’t send you down to a warm tropical paradise – it puts you down onto your cold bathroom floor. When was the last time you changed your whole latitude with a Corona? All I get is a craving for nachos and five minutes wasted trying to remember which is latitude and which is longitude.

Or the Budweiser ferret. Sure he’s a singing virtuoso, but what does that tell me about the product? And I’m getting tired of the increasingly declining quality of the Absolut ads; it’s time for that firm to come up with something new.

I’m not trying to blame all of the ills of alcohol on those who would entertain us in order get at our wallets. Nor am I saying that they cast an ideal world of alcohol up onto the silver screen – Leaving Las Vegas could make even Ted Kennedy set aside alcohol, for at least five, maybe 10, minutes. I’m just saying that equal time should be given to the softer, cooler, porcelain side of Sears.err, I mean alcohol.

Maybe then we’ll think about moderation before the hangover sets in.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.