Laying on, not in, the bed and watching the room spin; hanging on to the grass while laying on somebody’s lawn praying we don’t fall off the earth; staggering to a car with keys in hand; or never leaving the bathroom floor awaiting the next episode in the body’s rebellion against too much of a good time – we’ve all been there.
The unpleasantness of the situation causes us to make promises to the Almighty that we almost never keep despite all good intentions and/or a total revulsion of the discomfort we have caused ourselves. No need here to bring up the anti-social aspects of our actions while the body tries to come to grips with the over-indulgence of a substance that is classified in certain quantities as a poison.
There was even a noble, failed effort to tinker with our country’s most sacred document in dealing with alcohol, an effort which in the end caused more damage than the banned substance itself. Today, alcohol remains the only product mentioned in the U.S. Constitution.
The challenge with alcohol comes under multiple headings: availability, consumption levels, personal ability to assimilate, mental attitude, and social pressures.
Most people approach alcohol with the right philosophy, at least in the beginning. We are only seeking a fun expression, a release from human pressures, the freeing of personal qualities, even false ones, to be a good-time-Joe or a good-time-Jill. In the clear majority of instances, those intentions are realized and we awaken the next morning without regrets or feeling the need to contact someone and apologize for something untoward expressed or for being a complete jackass.
The joy and memories of another fun evening are appreciated, lessons learned albeit temporary in most cases, and we move on.
But there are some folks, most certainly not in the majority, who to varying degrees of behavior simply morph from decent folks to not-so-nice humans, or maybe just to people who make bad decisions after a couple of drinks.
That takes nothing away from alcohol and the burden is ultimately placed where it needs to go, on the person involved. When we heard last week that Saints’ star, Willie Snead, was being suspended by the National Football League for the Saints’ first three regular season games for a Driving Under the Influence incident that happened in June, I think we all had the same reaction: that’s incredibly outrageous. If an NFL star, who can easily afford a cab ride home, is caught with a high Blood Alcohol Level, why would he not just lean on a friend or give the cab company a call? Personal responsibility should be taken seriously.
Alcohol gets a bad rap, but it’s the user who should be taken to task. There’s that “bad judgement” bugaboo popping up, which many people just don’t want to recognize or deal with.
Anyway, why do humans like fermented and distilled products? What is it about fruit and grain when shoved through a process that makes the next step so inviting to us? Does tasting good and making us feel better answer those questions? Hell yes.
More than 10,000 years ago, our ancestors found that heating grains brought about a pleasant result called “beer,” Not long after that, another ancient tribe learned that fruit left in a bowl in the sun for a few days changed the fruit and resulted in the conversion of those sugars into alcohol. Our ancestors, for the most part no fools, saw great fun and no harm in either process. Even then, some members of the tribe got stupid and went over the line with behavior issues, but overall, all was good.
Okay, class, what have we learned in 10,000 years:
- Alcohol is alcohol, no matter how you ingest it. Mixing wine and spirits seems to change that “truism,” but it’s the sugars in the brew that make you drunker faster. See the opening sentence in this section. It’s true.
- You can have a terrific amount of fun by drinking beverages that possess lower alcohol content. Wines that don’t exceed 14%, beers that hang around 5 percent, more ice and water in spirits mixtures, all can deliver a good feeling just not as quickly, but you remain in control of yourself longer.
- Go slow. Give your body the time it needs to deal with the alcohol. Humans can handle the load but, like the New Orleans pumping capacity, we need the time. To be fair, humans are much better at this task than the New Orleans pumps are at theirs.
- Drink water. A lot of water. Match your alcohol intake with equal amounts of water. The flushing, sometimes literally, mechanism of the body is up to the task of carrying away the alcohol, especially when the body’s efforts are assisted with water.
- The minute you feel yourself going under the influence of alcohol, stop drinking the alcohol. It’s not anti-social. It’s not impolite. It does not signal the end of the evening. It’s just smart.
Read Happy Hour here on MyNewOrleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine.