Monday, November 23, 2009

There are two kinds of people in this bar

Somewhere around your mid-twenties it starts to become clear that there are two kinds of people in this (urban) world: drinkers and “people who drink.”
In college we were all drinkers.  Every activity was organized around drinking.  We kept ample stock of drink in every place we lived.  If we were too sick to drink, we wouldn’t go out.  If it were a beer-only party, we’d bring vodka in a Dasani.  If the game started at noon we’d make jell-o shot breakfast bowls.  We drank before all concerts, funny slash depressing movies, and a cappella performances.  We drank so much and so regularly that when we stopped drinking for whatever bizarre reasons, we couldn’t fall asleep. We were drinkers – probably bordering on drinkers with a drinking problem, but those were the times and that was the activity.
Those are sadly no longer the times.
With the start of real life it became abundantly clear that you couldn’t be the same kind of drinker you were in college.  There isn’t time.  There isn’t money.  And there isn’t that same ability to rotate whom out of your 4-man goes to the 9am and gives everyone else the notes.  Your first boss probably graduated from college three to four years before you and knows exactly what three bathroom trips before 10am means.
And so things started to shift – for some people - prompting the drawing of that sometimes very light line between adult drinker and adult "person who drinks." 
Drinkers are still pre-gaming for a night out at the bars, and not just one drink while they straighten their hair.  If someone says, “shots?” on a Tuesday night, drinkers say “good idea.”  After a particularly hard Saturday night out, drinkers are rearing to go for a boozy brunch because they know getting drunk again is the fastest way to get over a hangover.  If drinkers can’t drink for whatever reasons, they don’t go out. They never don’t order a drink with dinner, and that drink is rarely just one beer.  Go to a drinker’s apartment and the first thing they’ll offer you is a drink.  Ask what they have and they’ll say, “beer, wine, vodka, whisky? HHmm, no rum?  Sorry, no rum.” If you’re getting together with a drinker and don’t personally want to drink you have to say, “so can we grab a bite or do coffee instead of drinks?” Drinkers assume you’ll always be drinking.
That, of course, is the extreme. 
People who drink won’t always have a drink with dinner because alcohol isn’t something they immediate connect with a meal.  If you’re going out for after work drinks they’ll have two, maybe three max, then either head home or just stick around and hang out without a drink in their hand.  When you ask a person who drinks if they want a shot on a Tuesday night they’ll say, “omg, shots on a Tuesday?!” People who drink can sometimes/often get very, very drunk, but afterwards they’ll say things like, “that’s the last time I’m doing that for awhile – I was a complete waste of life the next day.”  Make one-on-one plans with a person who drinks and they’ll say, “what should we do? Movie? Dinner? Ooh, or it’s Thursday, maybe Cocktail?” 
Again, a the maxim, for conversation-sake. 
This isn’t to suggest that drinkers are alcoholics and people who drink are no fun.  You can be a drinker but not have a drinking problem.  You can also be a drinker but not realize you have a drinking problem. And finally, you can be a drinker for pockets of time slipping back and forth into "person who drinks" mode. In a similar vein, you can be a person who drinks and really enjoys it but just can’t make it a part of their life, or you can be a person who drinks out of obligation. 
I brought this topic up with Luke and Rob over after work drinks on a Thursday night.  Rob was drinking jack-and-ginger, Luke, a Corona, and myself the typical-girl vodka soda.  I outlined my perceived differences between drinker and person who drinks.  Rob/Luke agreed that there was a difference but that it was less black and what than I painted (also typical).  Their opinion was that many more people would be drinkers if they could.  Being a drinker is sometimes a product of lifestyle.  Some “people who drink” would be drinkers if they could just find the time to drink more.
Interesting point.  But not as interesting as their position on what guys prefer in a girl. 
My in-going assumption was that a guy is less interested in girls who are drinkers – that in their minds it’s less classy, less controlled, less feminine.  A girl who can drink, great.  A girl who is a drinker to the degree that the guy is, no.   But to Luke and Rob it comes down to how a girl wants to spend time drinking.  In their eyes “girls who drink” down five vodka sodas and go insane on the dance floor ending up a sloppy mess that they have to deal with whereas a drinker is content with you, a beer, and the game.  “You find a girl who’s happy sitting back with a drink at an old, wooden bar after a long day of work – you marry her,” Rob said. "Correct," Luke added. 
Of course that's just the opinion of two guys.  Two guys who probably hail from the drinking camp.  And to me, that's where the compatibility lines are drawn.  It's not as much are you a drinker or do you just drink? It's how does how to you drink fit with how I want to drink.   
...which means I should probably figure out which side I fall into...        
*photo credit - the phenomenally talented Jenny Anderson. Find her work at www.jennyandersonphotography.or


  1. So true. I used to be a drinker until my body couldn't take it anymore, so now I just drink. Sad thing; I turned asian. I'll get sick before I get drunk.

    To fill the void that alcohol left; I've gotten into dinner and wine. Its nice. But just nice!

  2. I fell asleep reading this entry.

  3. I know Jenny! She's a phenomenal photographer :)

  4. Your seeing life through beer goggles is strange perspective, as if there isn't a preceding alternative in which not drinking is the default mode. When did this perspective form? I know you weren't born drinking.