Commentary | In defense of alcohol

As Mitch Hedberg once remarked, alcoholism is the only disease you can get yelled at for having. Drunks have been treated unfairly for far too long, and this injustice must be stopped. Alcohol has been a blessing for our society, and the people who drink it should not be ashamed. So I’m here to stand up for drunks, if only because they’re too drunk to stand on their own.

People under the influence of alcohol have made many great contributions to our society. For example, did you know that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb whilst drunk? Probably not, because I just made that up. But it certainly sounds impressive, and many of us have had drunken ideas that could have changed the world, if only we had written more clearly on those napkins.

Alcohol is also the lifeblood of our economy. Forget oil – if Saddam Hussein had been sitting on top of massive whiskey reserves, America would have invaded Iraq twice as fast. (“Staying the course” would also be much more popular today.) And if you think the world would be better off without booze, just think of all the people who owe their livelihoods to alcohol, like bartenders, tattoo artists, and the makers of miniature umbrellas.

But I’m also defending alcohol for a personal reason: I like drunk people, and not just because they’re the only people willing to sleep with me. No, I also like drunks because they’re great conversationalists. They frequently give unforgettable compliments, such as “Dude, if I was a chick, I would totally [perform unspeakable acts upon] you.” No sober person would ever say that, or spend the next 20 minutes explaining how they’re “totally not gay, dude, not that there’s anything wrong with that.” But somehow, a drunk can make that sound charming.

Unfortunately some people – particularly those over the age of 30 living in the McGill Ghetto – aren’t comfortable conversing with drunks. For their benefit, I am going to reveal the secret to having conversations with drunks: pretend you’re in an improv theatre scene.

You see, the golden rule of improv is that you can’t say “no.” To keep the scene moving, actors have to accept each other’s input – no matter how outrageous it may be. The same rule applies to talking with drunks: whatever happens, don’t disagree with them. The only difference is that instead of developing a scene, you’re trying to avoid one. So when your drunk friend wants to break some furniture, take off his shirt, or hit on the girl with the muscular boyfriend, don’t say “no.” Tell them it’s a great idea, but that first they should have another drink, boogie on the dance floor, and test their pickup lines on the bartender. Your ideas are probably safer, and definitely funnier.

And there you have it – my last piece of advice for the year is to treat drunks like thespians. (Actually, there isn’t much difference between them in the first place.) I know that some writers are doing sappy “farewell” or “year in review” pieces, but not me – I just hope my column has made you laugh at some point in the last year. And if it hasn’t, please send your hate mail to jacob.itzkowitz@mail.mcgill.ca, because I don’t want to answer it. I’m too busy searching Montreal for massive whiskey reserves.

Bernard Rudny is an anagram of Dry Bun Errand. And yes, he can be reached at bernard.rudny@mail.mcgill.ca.


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