Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Social Drinker of the Week (8/31)

Competition for the coveted Rummy was fierce this week. A 20-year-old Rhode Island woman gave our winner a run for his money, having been taken into protective custody after asking her friend for the car keys as her friend was being arrested for shoplifting. Adding to that initial fail, she then attempted to seduce the officers from the backseat of the cruiser on the way to the station, and then used urine and toilet paper to defile the holding cell—for which she was charged with destruction of property. I'm sure her parents are so proud.

But ultimately, I think her age can be blamed for at least some of that drunken goodness. Our winner, however, does not have the same excuse.

From the Boston Herald:
DOVER, N.H. -- A woman and her husband were both arrested for driving while intoxicated after he moved into the driver’s seat of the car and attempted to drive away while she was performing field sobriety tests.

Capt. Michael Raiche said police responded to a minor accident on Central Avenue at about 5:30 p.m. Saturday after Sharon Piatek, 45, of 13 Langilier Court in Somersworth, allegedly rear-ended another vehicle.

Nobody was injured in the accident, however Raiche said the officer suspected that Piatek was under the influence of a drug at the time.

While Piatek was performing field sobriety tests, the passenger of her vehicle -- 37-year-old Brian Piatek -- allegedly moved into the empty driver’s seat, put the Dodge Stratus into drive and began to drive forward, Raiche said.

Simply brilliant, sir. Let's break down the artistry of this tale:
  1. It was only 5:30 PM, yet both he and his wife were already smashed. The couple that boozes together, stays together. Although...
  2. ...This "Clyde" was fully prepared to bail on his "Bonnie" in an attempt to save his own ass. Although...
  3. ...He really wasn't in any trouble until he tried to go Jason Bourne with the daring escape. Had he just remained in the passenger seat—hell, he could've taken a nap and slept off some of the intoxication—his household would only be stuck with a $500 bail payment, instead of a $5500 bail payment. And he would not have had some awkward questions to answer when he and the missus got home.

Brian Piatek, here's your On The Rocks Rummy award. I suggest keeping it out of your wife's reach, though. We're not responsible for the bodily harm she may inflict upon you with it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Live to Drink = Drink to Live

If you're a prissy non-drinker, a new report suggests that the fun people like moi will outlive you. Of course, if you're a prissy non-drinker, chances are you don't read this blog. But I digress...

The next time you've polished off your third beer, and you have that internal debate over whether to stop the party or do a cannonball into shit creek by ordering a fourth beer, do the responsible thing: Order two beers. And a round of shots.

From Time.com:
The sample of those who were studied included individuals between ages 55 and 65 who had had any kind of outpatient care in the previous three years. The 1,824 participants were followed for 20 years. One drawback of the sample: a disproportionate number, 63%, were men. Just over 69% of the never-drinkers died during the 20 years, 60% of the heavy drinkers died and only 41% of moderate drinkers died.

These are remarkable statistics. Even though heavy drinking is associated with higher risk for cirrhosis and several types of cancer (particularly cancers in the mouth and esophagus), heavy drinkers are less likely to die than people who have never drunk. One important reason is that alcohol lubricates so many social interactions, and social interactions are vital for maintaining mental and physical health. As I pointed out last year, nondrinkers show greater signs of depression than those who allow themselves to join the party.

This past Saturday I worked hard to extend my life expectancy, drinking Long Island Iced Teas at Shady Grove like there was a toy prize at the bottom of each glass. I managed to black out somewhere between wingmanning for Dupa and waking up in my bed yesterday morning.

[And, yes, I'm aware that I just said that blackouts aren't common occurrences for me. Fight me.]

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Social Drinker of the Week

In what will hopefully become a weekly feature, On the Rocks will shine the spotlight on a man or woman who has gone above and beyond the drinkers' call of duty. This week's recipient of the Rummy [award name is a work-in-progress] is Tyler Patrick Thomas.

From The Huffington Post:
CORVALLIS, Ore. — An Oregon State University offensive lineman has been dismissed from the team after police say they found him naked and intoxicated in a stranger's home and had to use stun guns to take him into custody.

That's a good start, but what makes Thomas so special? I mean, aside from having three first names? There's probably at least two cases a month in the US of drunken college kids ending up naked in a stranger's house (or maybe my Washington & Jefferson pedigree just makes me jaded to that sort of thing). So why does he deserve such a prestigious award?
Responding officers ordered 19-year-old Tyler Patrick Thomas of Kalispell, Mont., to get on the ground, Lt. Tim Brewer said.

Thomas refused and instead dropped into a three-point stance like a football player and lunged at the officers, Brewer said. At that point, he said, two officers fired their stun guns.

There are a number of interesting points here:
  1. Breaking into someone's house is one level of drunken stupidity (though I'd like to know the particulars of why he was there—maybe he thought it was his friend's place?); merely resisting arrest is another; but taking the initiative to challenge the cops? Brilliant (you know...in that it was incredibly stupid).

  2. Thomas dropping into a three point stance before making the charge is hilarious. I wish the cop hadn't been armed with anything, just for the mental imagery of him helplessly getting drive-blocked out of the house.

  3. Maybe it's just me, but there's a very limited number of things that I'm comfortable doing when completely naked. The very idea of getting into a three point stance and bursting off the line at anyone—police or civilian, man or woman—while wearing my birthday suit can only result in me giggling like a school girl and abandoning the charge before it's ever started.

  4. There is quite a bit of irony here: This kid's subconscious—and, by logical extension, life—is so ingrained with football, that it's his go-to defense mechanism when cornered. And yet, he uses it amidst an episode of intoxicated madness that has cost him his ability to play the game that is, very likely, the only thing he knows.

  5. Don't ever let anyone try to tell you that alcohol isn't poetic.

Congrats to you, Tyler Patrick Thomas, on becoming the inaugural recipient of the On The Rocks "Rummy Award". You can place it on your mantle and look upon it fondly while you complete your University of Phoenix application.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Fade to Black

Last Friday night I experienced what I would later dub on Twitter, “the world’s safest blackout.” On what was intended to be a low-key, low-dough night with the boys, TJ, Dupa, “Armo”, and I kicked back with a bottle of Belvedere, dinner, and some DVDs. And right about the time that “The Professional” ended, I experienced my preferred means of time travel, jolting awake the next morning. I felt like I hadn’t moved from the exact spot on the couch where I’d been watching the movie. If anything, I’d just sort of fallen over and then gotten right back up, only to now find myself in the Saturday dawn.

No bars full of strangers. No “How did I get there?” No losing my credit card. No losing my driver’s license. No losing my cell phone. No strange numbers on my phone. No drunk dials or texts. Well, no damning ones; I did manage to call TJ’s girlfriend in Tampa and wake her up, though in my defense it was only about 11:30 (that’s right, I was fully blacked out by 11:30—fight me). No unexplainable bodily harm (save for a small cut on my thumb that was more likely the result of fumbling with my zipper in the bathroom than me carrying out and/or thwarting a surprise ninja attack). I had blanked my memory of much of the night, with no possible consequences to bear the next morning. Win.

Things seldom go so well. Rarely is the fan turned off when the shit hits it. I’ve used the metaphor of a snowball in the past to describe professional drinking, especially if said drinking is done in celebration of holidays and special occasions, when it starts early in the day with the intention of rolling on through the night. And that imagery is more than appropriate, because not only does the size of your drunkenness grow exponentially, but so does the speed of this giant snowball of intoxicated idiocy—and your inability to control where it goes.

Several of my blackouts have already become On the Rocks greatness. Stories like my Halloween at Ohio U., Steph’s going away celebration last month, and a Friday night out with the boys two Februaries ago are now familiar seasoning in the l-o-l stew that is my recreational activities. But many more—for one reason or another—have yet to be published. Like last Thanksgiving Eve, when Pakistanimal, his girlfriend [now his fiancĂ©e—congrats], and her sister joined Tony and I in a night of Shadyside boozing. After pregaming at my apartment, the five of us were soon slamming Batman shots at Shady Grove, and then I was casually strolling up a street eight city blocks away, alone and dazed. And Tony was standing in front of my apartment building fuming, because three hours earlier I had left him at the bar without a way of getting into my place. That bar, though, would be William Penn Tavern, and my departure was a good hour after my last recollection of anything, when we were still partying like rock stars at Grove. Just like that, a fun night with friends had turned into W-T-F-? Tony said that when I finally ambled up to the building, I slurred something about having been at a party. And now every day I fully expect someone to approach me on the street and say, “Hey, you were that tall random guy at that party last Thanksgiving!”

[Note: Given the fact that my family—and my parents, even—read this blog, it has suddenly dawned on me that I probably should have been masking these stories as something some friend of mine did. “Then my friend…uhh, 'Dave'…got really drunk on Batman shots and…” Oh well.]

Thanksgiving Eves have proven fertile ground for this sort of thing. In 2004, that particular night of the year was, dare I say, epic. Dupa, T.C., and I had hit the South Side to drink and revel. Then, at about 4 a.m. or so, I found myself leaning against a front door, slowly knocking on it. I stopped my fist just before it barreled into my mysterious wooden resting post once more, and stood upright to take in the scene. I was on a porch…that I had never seen before. The house was dark, and to this day I wonder if its owner had been peeking from behind the curtains, terrified. I walked down the steps and out to the street. I was in a suburban area, but it all looked so unfamiliar. I began walking down the street, deciding that the one thing I absolutely needed to do was get away from that house; to hear sirens at any moment would have been “game over”. As I came to the next intersection, it suddenly hit me: I was in T.C.’s neighborhood, and his house was on this street. I had met him and Dupa there at the start of the night. I quickly found my way to T.C.’s, and got myself on a couch to sleep it all away.

Over the next week or so details of the missing hours began surfacing. The last thing I remembered was being at the upstairs bar in Smoking Joe's Saloon. That had been around 11 (fight me twice). After that came stops at a couple of other bars, including Jack’s. There I found myself momentarily separated from my boys as I waited in line for the restroom. Some random jackasses brought static, and fists were soon cutting the smoke-filled air. From across the room, Dupa had quickly spotted me, cornered and surrounded, and charged into the fray with T.C. close behind. According to reports, my boys and I proceeded to bring the ruck, soused though we were, until bouncers could finally break it all up. I was so in the zone, in fact, that when one bouncer first stepped in to intervene, I swung on him. Luckily it was just a grazing shot, because—I’d later learn—he was our friend Jed’s cousin (I ran into him again a few months later and apologized, but he understood; as drunk as I was, I probably couldn’t see, let alone discern between attackers and bouncers). Pakistanimal, who had been out with other people, said he walked up to the door at Jack’s that night, but was told they couldn’t let anyone in until they cleared out a fight that had just taken place. Just then, Dupa, T.C., and I stumbled out the door laughing. “[Pak], what up? We were just in a fight!”

T.C.’s little sister picked us up from the South Side and took us to a party her friends were throwing. After that? Well, after that I played the world’s slowest game of “Ding-Dong-Ditch”. That’s really all any of us know, because by the time the fight ended, all three of us were at some level of blackout. Only Dupa has any memory of the brawl, and not even he remembers the party.

Luckily, blackouts aren’t frequent (not for me, at least). The anxiety that comes with waking up the next morning is enough to make you nauseous, without the aid of the hangover. This is especially true if you wake up on the floor of an unknown bedroom in Ohio (see “Halloween at Ohio U.” above). But even when you find yourself in your own bed—where, you could argue, you should feel the absolute safest in the entire world—the prior night’s mental abandonment can be waiting to pounce. When I blacked out during the first night of my birthday weekend last year, I had been with my boys at Shady Grove. When I woke up the following morning, I was laying in bed next to The Ex. She was sitting up with her back against the headboard, her folded arms looming like storm clouds over my aching head.

Her, through clenched teeth: “So, do you remember last night?”
Me, in my head:...fuck!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Drinking Buddies (We Are Not Alone)

If you haven't been watching NBC's "Community" on Thursday nights, then you're doing it wrong. I should know—I was doing it wrong myself until late into the season, and since have been catching up via reruns.

Why am I so high on this show? Just watch the clip below, which any fan of "The Breakfast Club" is sure to appreciate.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Chilled to Perfection

My fellow scotch drinkers, prepare to wipe the drool from your mouths.
(AP) -- A crate of Scotch whisky that was trapped in Antarctic ice for a century was finally opened Friday - but the heritage dram won't be tasted by whisky lovers because it's being preserved for its historical significance.

The crate, recovered from the Antarctic hut of renowned explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton after it was found there in 2006, has been thawed very slowly in recent weeks at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island.

The crate was painstakingly opened to reveal 11 bottles of Mackinlay's Scotch whisky, wrapped in paper and straw to protect them from the rigors of a rough trip to Antarctica for Shackleton's 1907 Nimrod expedition.

I think the only consolation that I can take is this: Even though I'll never get to drink it, neither will anyone else. Or so they claim. I find it incredibly hard to believe that none of these scientists took a taste themselves. Sorry, I'm not buying it.

This is the second story to come out of the science world of well-preserved bottles of booze from ages past being discovered. I'm starting to give more consideration to getting my Indiana Jones on.

Props to TJ for the assist.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The U.S. is Getting it In

According to the latest Gallup Poll, the percentage of Americans who drink alcohol is at its highest level in 25 years. In total, 67% of people across this fair land of ours are tipping back glasses; and among people between the ages of 18 and 54, 72% are imbibing.

Despite some yearly fluctuations, the percentage of Americans who say they drink alcohol has been remarkably stable over Gallup's 71 years of tracking it. The high point for drinking came in 1976-1978, when 71% said they drank alcohol.

The low of 55% was recorded in 1958. When Gallup first asked Americans about drinking, in the waning days of the Great Depression in 1939, 58% of adults said they were drinkers.

*wipes a tear* God bless the U-S-of-A.

Beer has once again topped liquor and wine as the preferred beverage, much as it has since 1992. The lone exception came in 2005, when wine briefly surpassed it in the poll. What happened in 2005 to give wine such a boost, you ask? Well, it's only a theory of yours truly, but I think it's no small coincidence that the Oscar-winning movie "Sideways" was released in January of that year. Vino's reign was short-lived, though; the following year 64% of America declared it was "NOT drinking any fucking Merlot".

While 67% is impressive, we here at On the Rocks like to shoot for perfection. TJ, Dupa, TD, and I have already made happy hour plans for tomorrow night in support of the cause. Let's go America—booze or lose.