Thoughts on alcohol and drunkenness

The other night some friends and I were discussing my feelings about alcohol. I don’t enjoy the stuff. Since turning 21, I’ve had the requisite (in Oregon, anyway) McMenamin’s beer sampler and the occasional glass or bottle of porter or stout during social occasions. On the whole, I’d much rather drink Coke.

But the main subject of our discussion was how I feel about drunk people. For as long as I can remember, ever since the very first time I ever encountered someone who was drunk, I’ve hated being around drunk people. There’s nothing that makes me want to leave the room faster. The last thing I’d ever want to do is get drunk myself.

What it comes down to is this: when someone is drunk, I can’t trust them to be themselves.

I’m extremely analytical of everything, especially my friends and above all myself. There are files in my head full of every single thing I’ve ever observed about every person I know. A jigsaw puzzle with pieces slowly being filled in as I get to know people better. There’s a file for me, too. As I observe my friends, I also observe their reactions to me and my reactions to them. While I’m filling in their puzzles, I’m working on mine, too.

The upshot of all this is that it makes everything more predictable. Predictability helps me relax in social situations. If I know how everyone is likely to react when I say something, I don’t have to worry about saying the wrong thing. Sometimes, for the sake of comedy, I can tweak a funny reaction out of someone or trick them into tweaking a funny reaction out of me (just ask Felicity what happens whenever she mentions lesbians). In short, it makes me happier and more fun to be around.

But all this stuff flies out the window as soon as someone gets drunk. Suddenly, I have no way of predicting how they’ll behave or how they’ll react to me. Even if they react favorably to me, I have no way of knowing whether it’s because of me or because of the alcohol. I can’t analyze anything, because I can’t trust anything. Nothing is reliable. I develop a strong and sudden urge to get away; to avoid the person until they’re sober and predictable again. Until I can trust them to be themselves and to react honestly to me. In addition, I begin to lose respect for the person; from that moment on, I view them as less intelligent. I don’t like losing respect for my friends.

Thankfully, none of my friends drink excessively. At least, not when I’m around.