While these drinking rules won’t sound much like Emily Post, the reasoning behind this etiquette and hers is pretty much the same. Both sets of rules are designed to make your fellow men and women feel more comfortable, to produce the greatest enjoyment, and to help you show your respect for others (however, unlike E.P.’s rules these come with a chance of vomiting– sometimes being peak-civilized means running the risk of garbage behavior).
Anyone who breaks these rules is in danger of being labeled boring, no fun, cheap, self-righteous, and the Colonel Brandon of their friend group (someone hard to criticize but the last person you want to be stuck talking to at a party).
Here they are.
1) You can’t say no to a shot.
There is a reason we associate shots with frat boys– they’re great for creating lifelong bonds. When you do shots with someone, you’re asking them to engage in totally unnecessary and ultimately risky behavior with you–shots are essentially the grownup equivalent of becoming blood brothers and one of the quickest ways to achieve non-sexual intimacy. Saying, “Shots,” means, “I’m willing to get irresponsibly inebriated with you and you’ll probably see me at my worst– can I trust you with that?” while refusing a shot is the drinking equivalent of not saying “I love you” back.
Maybe you want to say “no” because you’re just scared. Maybe you’ve been hurt before. Maybe tequila just isn’t your jam. None of these excuses justifies ruining the mood. Take the gamble, become an idiot, and risk all in hopes of creating a memory (/a lack of memory) and deepening a friendship.
“Refusing a shot is the drinking equivalent of not saying ‘I love you’ back.”
Exceptions to the rule: when you’ve already had 3 shots, when someone wants you to do the shot off a body part, when you’re already hungover AF, when you’re at risk of vomiting in a place where you can’t do it tastefully, and when you feel like the person has ulterior motives for getting you drunk (stupid date rapists ruin it for everyone, amirite?).
2) You have to drink on any occasion when champagne is present.
You don’t have to drink champagne on these occasions (although why wouldn’t you?), you just have to drink something. Here’s why.
People serve champagne when they’re trying to create a spirit of celebration. But champagne doesn’t bring the fun on its own– it’s all of our responsibilities’ to create the proper atmosphere. Not picking up a glass when someone offers champagne is an unforgivable abdication of celebratory responsibility.
Exceptions to the rule: there’s nothing left to drink, you’re too hungover to ingest anything, or the celebration is for something truly barbaric (like, “death to Canadians,” or, “put an end to high heels”).
3) Drinking is like baseball: no crying allowed.
In general, everyone should be required to drink at all times. To a point, drinking makes you more fun, interested, focused, forgiving, open, honest, and best of all, if YOU are drinking it allows me to feel more comfortable drinking.
However, if you have any sense that emotional storm clouds may be moving in, abstain at all costs. It might feel good to be able to blame your emotional outburst on alcohol, but you will ruin everyone else’s good time. There’s a very good chance tonight someone was celebrating their birthday, hoping to hook up, or trying to forget about a tragedy, and YOU, the crying pile of self-pity/loathing, are destroying their chances of making this night what they needed it to be. SHAME.
Also, there’s a very good chance if you’re drinking and crying that you look like a raging tire fire. Why inflict this on your fellow man?
Exceptions to the rule: someone very recently cheated on you and you’re with close friends (this excuse expires after about three weeks, FYI), you were drunk and then got badly hurt, or you were badly hurt and then got drunk.
4) Your BAC should not impact your volume.
We’ve all been to sports bars where men’s voices get louder, lower, and more bro-y the drunker they get. Beer transforms these men from decent human citizens to intolerable assholes with the super-human ability to ask about the score louder than a woman bellows in labor. Women aren’t immune to this phenomenon either– there isn’t a wine bar happy hour in existence that doesn’t get louder and more nasal as the night goes on.
My theory is, that as people drink more, their general understanding of language begins to deteriorate. At this point, drunk people then often make the assumption that they too have become difficult to understand. However, drunk as they are, they are unable to speak more clearly to make themselves more easily understood, so they settle for speaking more loudly– like a person who assumes that yelling into a phone with bad reception will make the connection better. It’s stupid and dumb and annoying and I hate it.
Frequently being a drunk idiot myself, I understand that it’s difficult to change this behavior when you’re drunk. It requires premeditated self-scrutiny and careful training. It is worth it.
Exceptions to the rule: you’re drinking somewhere where it’s incredibly loud, you’re scaring off a horrible date, you’re trying to show a friend how annoyingly loud they are, or you are deaf.
5) You’ve got to have a sense of humor about drunk-you.
You wake up after a night of hard drinking, your breath reeking of vomit, your face resting against the cool bathroom tiles (ah, such lovely cool tiles!) and you’re consumed with nausea, head pain, and dread. You were the worst last night. You sang songs, you danced dances, you took very bad pictures, you threw up in your purse, and your friends had to take care of you. You are awash with self-loathing and an intense reluctance to think about your crimes.
But the only way out is to embrace the darkness.
If you want your friends to forgive you, you have to let them enjoy and mock every minute that you wish could be censored from the memories of mankind. You have to hear about how you gave a homeless person all your gum. You have to hear about how you whined, “don’t you know who I am?” to a bouncer. You have to hear about how you hit on someone when you had obvious drool on your shirt. And then, you have to let them laugh at you, and you have to laugh too. This is the price you pay for their willingness to tolerate your bad behavior.
“You have to let them laugh at you, and you have to laugh too. This is the price you pay for their willingness to tolerate your bad behavior.”
Exceptions to the rule: you’re an alcoholic and these drunk escapades are more intervention-worthy than hilarious, or this is the first time you’ve ever misbehaved and the person taking care of you is someone you’ve nursed roughly 98540359 times in the past.
6) Never let one person buy all the drinks.
You have a friend who constantly grabs the bill before it gets to you and her catch phrase seems to be “it’s on me.” You did not just win the friend lottery and the companionship you provide isn’t good enough to deserve free drinks for life (sorry). Uneven drink buying is a terrible friendship dynamic and while there are short term savings, there are long term friendship losses.
“You did not just win the friend lottery and the companionship you provide isn’t good enough to deserve free drinks for life.”
Maybe you’ve let them get away with paying because they make more money than you do or because they chose the place. Maybe they have better taste. None of these is a decent excuse– if they pay the full bill one night, you pay it next time because the one-person-paying scenario is bound to cause future weirdness.
If you legitimately can’t afford to pay, you shouldn’t have gone out. Next time, you propose the place– someplace you can comfortably pay for.
Exceptions to the rule: your friend spontaneously added a $300 bottle to the bill without consulting you first, they have explicitly addressed that they could buy and sell you and don’t want your relative poverty forcing them to go to a dumpster bar, they owe you for life because they committed a major sin, or you don’t care to maintain the friendship.
Drinking is both a privilege and a responsibility. Don’t be a disappointment.