I learned a lot of things in college.
Mostly about anatomy and neurology and how babies develop language. (Spoiler, they just do. Babies are pretty cool that way.) But I also learned how to be uncomfortable and how to make hard decisions. How to problem-solve when all I want to do is freak out and call my mom. How to find an apartment and how to properly clean a bathroom.
But there’s one thing I didn’t learn in my 5 years (and counting) of higher education.
I never learned how to casually drink.
This feels like kind of a rip-off.
I learned how to measure my shots of flavored vodka into a water bottle so that when I took blind swigs from that water bottle in a crowded dorm room later, I could estimate how much I’d had. (This process involves pouring vodka into shot glasses, then into empty water bottles. Yes, it goes everywhere.) I learned how to identify the far-off look in my friends’ eyes that told me they needed to get home immediately. I learned how to clean puke off a cheap futon without giving up and setting it on fire.
Turns out none of these skills apply to going out for beers with coworkers on a weeknight. I soon realized that I only knew how to drink zero beers or five beers. And I was consistently nervous about having slightly too much to be able to drive myself home.
I like to think of casual drinking the way I think about yoga: a complex, subtle art that I’ll probably practice forever without mastering. I’m better at it now than I was a couple years ago, but I’m still doing the best I can with the body (and executive functioning) I have today.
I’ve mastered the have-a-craft-beer-with-dinner pose, but my find-a-mixed-drink-that-you-actually-enjoy pose could use some work. It’s a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve learned so far.
TIPS ON DRINKING CASUALLY FROM SOMEONE YOU PROBABLY SHOULDN’T TAKE TIPS FROM:
Eat something. Anything.
Drink water. Don’t forget water!
Either have one drink per hour or stop after two.
No, don’t do shots. What the hell do you think this is, you monster?
Stick to stouts, because after one or two of those you’ll be too full to stomach anything else, trust me.
Order the coolest-sounding IPA on the menu to impress all your friends then don’t finish it because it’s way too bitter.
If you don’t want the drink anymore, DON’T FINISH IT. YOU DON’T HAVE TO FINISH IT.