First, let me explain my credentials as your instructor. I'm Professor Kelly O. I've been doing immersive research on the fine art of drunkenness for more than a decade. Since 2003, I've done a column for The Stranger called Drunk of the Week. From the name, you might think this column is about people being publicly humiliated. No, no, no—it's quite the opposite. The people I photograph are being celebrated—honored as esteemed experts in their field—called out as champions in the World of Fun-Having. Does the act of having fun require alcohol? OF COURSE NOT! It sure can enhance the ride, though. It lubes up the wheels of life. And pulling on your drunky-pants, from time to time, can be safe, sloppy, and hilariously memorable.
What if you've never had a sip of alcohol before? What if you drink all the dang time? I've seen it all, and I can help. Here's how to drink and be merry and not get shitfaced and act scary.
So you're a novice. College is a gauntlet—an endurance race filled with boozy obstacles like chocolate cake shots, keg stands, and impromptu rounds of beer pong. If you're not an experienced social drinker (yet!), here is rule #1: Fake it till you make it, baby. If people around you are pounding drinks with a terrifying fervor, just PRETEND you're right there with them. Don't drink more than you feel comfortable with. Avoid shots of liquor completely. Shots of liquor are so much stronger than wine or beer, it's crazy. They make you drunk much faster. If you're having mixed drinks (which is a shot plus some kind of mixer), sip yours and get refills on ice. If you're at a house party with endless cardboard suitcases of cheap beer magically appearing at every turn, bring a drink koozie (you know, those foam can holders with sayings like "Tight Butts Drive Me Nuts" written on them in puffy paint). With a koozie, your beer will stay cold longer and you don't have to drink so much.
So you like to drink a lot. Hey, this isn't your first rodeo—you can drink like a mofo already! YOU GO HARD! That's fine. But binge-drinking is dangerous, and blacking out is scary, and just because you've never done anything stupid the last couple times you drank the night away, you might do something that ruins your life the next time you black out. Now's the time to make sure you never ever (again) go time-travelin'-on-the-fast-train-to-blackout-town. First of all, I don't care who you are, you need to have a glass of water between every few drinks. Second of all, you need to eat. A greasy Dick's cheeseburger and some even greasier fries are a good foundation. If at all possible, do that before your first drink. Slow and steady wins the race. Partying is 100 percent competitive, and the winner is the last person standing! Be the one at the end of the night still cracking semi-coherent jokes in the kitchen and not the guy hugging the toilet bowl in the bathroom mumbling nonsensically. With booze, there is much to learn—so never stop learning, young Jedi.
So you want a drink, but you're broke. Two words: happy hour. Tons of bars have half-price drinks during these times. The other perfect thing about boozing early in the evening is that you will be done earlier too, which means sooner to bed, and you'll have a greater chance of still making it to your 8 a.m. class. (This is how they do it in London. After the pub, those wankers go to bed at like 11 p.m.) Oh yeah, two more words for you: art opening. Lots of neighborhoods have art walks, and art walks are a bunch of art openings in a row, and an art opening almost always has free wine. Not only can you swill free wine, you can decompress your homework brain by looking at a bunch of weird-ass crap tacked up on a wall. Never resort to trying to drink mouthwash or hand sanitizer, no mater how broke you are. Never.
So it's your 21st birthday. This will be the best night of your life or the worst, depending on your "friends." Um, lemme ask you this: Now that you're in college, who is the boss of you? Uh, duh, IT'S YOU. Finally, right? Out from underneath the oppressive parental thumb, you are now The Boss. For some reason, on 21st birthdays, your friends will most likely act on a primal urge to make sure you get overserved—to guarantee that you drink too much, as if making you puke on your own shoes is some sort of rite of passage. Well, FUCK THAT NOISE! Peer pressure is the second cousin of bullying. Sure, you should drink some of their birthday-themed offerings, but if the room starts spinning and they're still shoving shot glasses in front of your face, take charge and slide that little glass down to that lonely stranger at the end of the bar. Or simply pour the shot on the floor to prove your point. You won't get in trouble—it's your birthday! And you're the DAMN BOSS!
Oh god, what are you going to do about this hangover? Did you remember to eat at Dick's at the beginning of your boozy adventure? If not, try to eat something before you go to bed. Heavy, fatty foods can slow down the absorption of alcohol. I don't want to sound like your mom here, but honey, you need to eat! But that was then, and this is now, and you have a crazy serious hangover and your head is POUN-D-D-DING. You don't think you can make it to class. Buck up, soldier—you can do it! First you need water. Chug some of that very first thing. Then get yourself to a 7-Eleven, skip the Gatorade and grab some coconut water and one of those little cheap tubes of Aleve. Aleve, which is naproxen sodium, is easier on your war-torn liver than Tylenol or Advil. Then drink more water and eat something salty. If after a couple of hours, you still feel like dying, pull out the big guns. Try an electrolyte supplement like Nuun. These flavored tablets—about the size of a quarter that you drop into a 16-ounce bottle of water and then drink—work wonders. Made for athletes, they also work for hangovers, because in addition to electrolytes for rehydration, they also contain caffeine and B vitamins. Any concoction with these three things is gonna help you defeat the enemy, so you can get back on your horse and ride. You can and you will! You had some fun, and maybe even made a fool of yourself, but like writer Ernest Hemingway once said, "An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools."