Not to say that drinking is an American tradition per se, but Americans drink with a certain sad, desperate bitterness that is at once both tragic and glorious.
It's like when I was a kid, Mom would come home from work and mix up a few vodka tonics. Dad would down a six-pack of cheap Milwaukee brew. Then, of course, wine with dinner. I really didn't think anything of it.
To paraphrase Mickey Rourke in Barfly, "Hey, anyone can be sober. But to be a drunk takes stamina."
This peculiarly endearing quality is well-documented online as well. Take, for instance, the latest online edition of the cranky ezine Crank (www.crank.com). Tips for bar brawlers are generously provided, such as the old credo, "Don't Fight in Small Towns... because outsiders are left on the floor, bloody and beaten."
The solemn reverie of booze hounds, moreover, is often intertwined with self-loathing. If this is your style, then The Official Homepage For Hating Yourself is right up your vomit-stained alley. This site actually has very little to offer. It does, however, contain some real gems of toasts to begin a night of excesses, such as the classic: "He is not drunk, who from the floor, can rise and ask, for one drink more."
Of course, the marketing gurus who make the world go 'round can't advertise their booze as being a tremendously unhealthy, addictive dangerous drug. So we end up with happy fun-filled sites such as www.stoli.com and www.jimbeam.com. Yes, they're marketing fun, not booze.
The Stoli site offers an absurd search engine which allows you to get cocktail advice for when you have a hankering for "something gregarious which goes down like a cosmonaut" -- and naturally contains Stolichnaya. I have no idea what that means, but the site suggests a "VOLGA COOLER" for those with such tastes.
Speaking of fun, one of the coolest things I can remember from my college daze was the day that some anti-drinking coalition came to demonstrate the effects that booze can have on your ability to drive.
Each fraternity, sorority and dorm offered up a representative to participate in the demonstration. By that time, I had already learned the four great stages of drunkenness: Jocose, Bellicose, Morose, and Comatose. Like a good red-blooded American college student, I threw up on people, broke things, and made an ass of myself. Luckily, everyone else was doing exactly the same thing, so nobody cared. But I digress....
The lucky bunch at my school was provided with a vat of vodka punch (at 11 a.m.!), and were instructed to drink one 8-ounce glass after another, and then drive a cone-delineated obstacle course as fast as they could manage. Needless to say, hitting a cone resulted in a significant time penalty.
All the drivers improved their times up to the third cocktail (probably because they got to know the course better), but then the cones began to fly. Performances deteriorated -- except for Paul Paupodopolis, who, to the embarrassment of the representative from SADD or MADD or whatever it was, simply got faster and faster, even after 12 drinks. He was our hero.
I'd never advocate drunk driving, but if it wasn't for the likely adverse financial, health, and legal problems, it sure would be fun.
Anyway, if you enjoy the risk-taking that drunk driving entails, I'd recommend that you spend a little time at The Drunk Driving Information Center, which is maintained by a lawyer who claims to be "recognized as the foremost authority on DWI/DUI litigation in the United States."
At this site, you'll learn important lines like, "I would like to speak with an attorney before I answer any questions."
Of course, any review of booze-related sites on the web would be incomplete without a nod to the vast www.webtender.com. This site allows you to generate a list of cocktails you can mix with the ingredients you happen to have on hand, choose the right drinking game for you and your compatriots, or even calculate your degree of drunkenness based on your body weight and drinking patterns.
Turns out my most common pattern puts me at about 2.2 parts alcohol per thousand, which supposedly results in "You experience problems speaking. You see things double." Now that's big fun! Unfortunately, this pattern seems to reliably produce a feeling the next day roughly akin to the aftermath of being abused by a troop of silverback gorillas on crack.
Many call this sensation a hangover, but thanks to www.zip.com.au/~haddon/thiamine.html, I now know that all I need to do is eat lots of brown rice and whole wheat bread before I go to bed. Yeah, right.
Of course, if you're going to take a drink and surf the 'Net, get one of those keyboard protectors -- and when you get to the bar, out there in the real world, remember to tip the 'tender. Cheers!
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