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Thinking While Drinking, or “Now, let’s all wave at Mr. Beer Keg”

Katherine Khorey | Tuesday, September 30, 2008

As I turned 21 this weekend, having spent nearly a month in a new country boasting of the much touted younger drinking age, I took time to reflect on how much I’d have loved to be sitting at the Friday’s back in South Bend, enjoying a tasty and legal Mudslide, as it’s been about three years since I first drank legally outside the U.S., and, though Guinness tastes much better now than it did then, drinking it in public’s become so passé, and yet my current drinking habits are …

I’ve lost you.

You’re thinking, “Um, I/my best friend/roommate/cousin/significant other/favorite lacrosse player just got arrested two weeks ago. Isn’t it a little too soon to be hitting us over the head with this?”

Or, “Oh no. Someone’s seriously bringing this one up again? Can we please read about a new controversy for once?”

Or, “Mmm, Mudslides.”

Or else, having witnessed that first sentence, you’re still in a state of traumatic shock and can do no more than vaguely wonder where you can find the number for Comma Protection Services.


Bear with me a little while before you turn the page. Yes, you’re about to read yet another article on alcohol. But I promise that throughout this one, you, your friends, your intellect, your Mudslides and the commas will remain safe and unmaligned.

And the reason for this safety is my belief that your drinking is, for the most part, your business. It is your very own personal decision.

The problem is how often that decision is believed to be a simple one.


Alcohol, of course, doesn’t always have to be complicated. The occasional Mudslide with an old friend comes to mind, or else the higher-end beer you bought just for the 2006 MSU game and then clutched anxiously the whole way through. Or the $9 white wine you sip alongside your very first Castle Point Hotpot (a.k.a “Guess How Many Leftovers We Can Fit in the Same Wok?”) Or, in my case, sips of my grandmother’s sherry on a Sunday afternoon as we waited for the pot roast to finish cooking and she helped me with my Calculus homework.

But those instances of simplicity are also situations in which the main focus isn’t actually drinking, but rather friendship or football or food or those assignments full of idiots who were so concerned with the height of the impending lampposts that they never realized they were about to walk smack-dab into them. Alcohol, when it’s truly nothing more than a supplement to other aspects of life, need not be handled with much more than basic common sense.

Drinking as its own leisure activity, however, raises complications for the thoughtful individual.

You know, for instance, that to maximize the benefits of the drinking experience, you need to ask yourself many questions before beginning. Like, “What?” And “Where? With whom? How much?” Or in some cases, “Do I feel it’s worth my breaking the law? If so, how do I not get caught?”

But most importantly, for all of us, is the question of “Why?” And, as someone has previously pointed out here in Viewpoint, “Because every other American college student has so much fun blacking out twice a week” is not a legitimate reason to drink. In fact, it’s the anti-legitimate reason. The stronger reasons are the ones we each discover for ourselves – those that we’re absolutely sure fill our own needs, and, more importantly, sit well with our consciences.

Of course drinking ceases to be a purely personal choice as soon as it takes on extra-personal effects. A moment, please, to preach: consideration for other people should be a priority in one’s drinking choices. The safety and welfare of those around you (and yourself) are givens, but this consideration applies to more mundane effects too. Ask yourself if you really want to be that guy in the cheap beer keg costume who stands outside the Ladies’ Room at the Halloween SYR and yells incoherent, semi-complimentary obscenities at every woman who walks past.

Yes, dude. Some stranger remembers you, two years on, as that guy. Now, I’m truly curious: was it worth it?


My current drinking habits are muted, I guess. Not necessarily because of early legal drinking, but just because that’s what works best for me.

A lot of trial and error, and not a little experience, went into this decision. I remember, for instance, how awhile ago, I went to one particularly sweaty-aired dorm room party in which the same five songs were being played on repeat the entire night, and now whenever “Dani California” comes on the radio, I think of Stanford Hall, and I change the station.

But I’ll stop before more commas get hurt. You decide your alcohol policy for yourself, provided the elements of your decision go beyond yourself.

You, with regard to alcohol, have the right to make yourself as sick as you’d like. But please don’t miss the toilet.

Now, enjoy your Mudslide.

Katherine Khorey is an English major and Russian minor spending her junior year abroad at Trinity College, Dublin.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.