Here's the thing: Drinking will make you more entertaining. It'll also embolden you in social situations and inspire other drunks to like you. Drinking will make you more popular. But like anything else worth doing—sex, Scrabble, cheese making—you can't just wander in a fresh-faced babe and expect to be good at it. You need practice, and you've got to have good advice, which is why you need me, a red-nosed hobo of an angel sitting on your shoulder.

The one important rule for drinking is the same as the one important rule for life: Don't be an asshole—everything else is a variation on this theme. To wit:

Don't drink at corporate and/or theme bars. If you're a new student, you're probably not old enough to get into bars at all, so tuck this away and remember it when you're 21: Nobody gets plowed at the Fox Sports Bar and Grill except assholes and people who wear pleated pants. To the upperclassmen and the grad students and the possessors of great fake IDs I impart this wisdom: A perfect bar has good music, friendly staff, and patrons who are kind but not intrusive—places where you can fall in love, get in a screaming match, or be left alone, depending on your mood. Off the top of my head, three such bars are: the Nite Lite (downtown,) Al's Tavern (Wallingford), and the Nine Pound Hammer (Georgetown). Remember: If you can't afford to tip—at least a buck a beverage—drink at home until you can afford it. They're not serving you out of the kindness of their hearts or because they like you—they're working.

When you're at a bar, all evidence suggests that you are an adult. You should behave accordingly. Don't throw a fit if your $25 'Washinton State' fake ID gets confiscated—for that matter, don't ever pitch a hissy for any reason—just apologize and disappear. Nobody's ever won a philosophical disagreement with a bouncer. Don't order beverages with more than three ingredients—are you a drunk or a chemist? The martini or the Jack and Coke or the gin and tonic are classics for a reason, and their simplicity speaks volumes. Any drink whose construction involves a tool that plugs in—specifically, a blender—should be left at the Jamba Juice, except for the occasional solitary margarita, enjoyed in the sun, at lunch, with friends.

If you don't have a fake ID and you can convincingly pretend to care about art, gallery openings are a fountain of free wine. There will always be more alcohol at bad and/or corporate art events... if you find the art interesting, the gallery is probably too poor to provide much hooch. If you'd rather convincingly pretend to care about politics, you should volunteer for a political campaign that doesn't make your ideological skin crawl—unpaid volunteers are frequently thanked with beer. In addition to being big wetbrains year-round, politicians are sure to throw out all the stops on the first Tuesday in November: Nobody remembers where they ended up on Election Night, and that's as it should be. There are few better coming-out parties for the underage alcoholic aspirant than a local political scandal, and nothing greases the wheels of scandal like whiskey. For year-round free alcohol, if you have a bit of Ferris Bueller–style con artist in you, you should pretend to be a journalist, either by claiming to work for a local publication—hint: nobody keeps track of who works for Seattle Weekly anymore—or by making up a Seattle arts-criticism blog. There are countless opening-night journalist-only functions where all the open-bar stops are pulled out, put on by a producer who hopes to get the media so blotto that they can't remember how truly awful their play/art show/new product line/political agenda really is. These people are begging to be taken advantage of.

Drinking at all-ages shows is annoyingly difficult, but drinking at sporting events is incredibly easy. As long as you don't look like a stubby-limbed toddler, Safeco and Qwest Field and KeyArena are grief-free underage drinking zones. If you need a part-time job, consider working at a restaurant that serves liquor: the meager pay will be more than made up for with a crew of ready-made drinking buddies with a burning urge to steal from the boss—as a bonus, you'll probably get laid, too.

The best way for the ambitious juvenile drinker to get alcohol, though, will always be house parties—fridges packed with beer, tables heavy with bottles of amber-colored goodness.

So say you're at a party. Rivers of booze. What now? Don't drink things that are flavors of Kool-Aid. Which means cosmopolitans and lemon drops and other slutty drinks—including Southern Comfort, which exists solely to get 14-year-olds pregnant. (If you must do a shot of Hemorrhaging Sugar Pussy, you're on your own.) Ingrates at house parties are easy to spot—they get blind drunk as quickly as possible. Don't be an ingrate. Instead, help clean up spills, make the rounds and chat with people, and do everything you can to be a sparkling example of party greatness. Why? Because this will get you invited to a bunch more parties, which will keep you in alcohol until the state says you can buy it yourself. If being at the mercy of others' party schedules makes you squirm with impending DTs, buy a flask. Not only are flasks cool, you can fill up at a party and then sip all through the next day's lecture on Parmenides and the Objectification of the Unreal.

Hard-drinking time is not sex-having time. Drinking lubricates flirtation, and it assists in the getting-to-know-you process, but so many things can go wrong—from whiskey-dick to Serious Regret to pregnancy to STDs. There are exceptions; lifelong relationships have blossomed out of skanky drunken tosses. But you should operate under the assumption that it's not going to happen to you until it does.

Make yourself puke if you're too drunk. True, sticking a finger down your throat is momentarily... uncomfortable... but sometimes a little Karen Carpentry averts mountains of pain in the morning. It could even save your life. Don't forget to sleep face-down, and, if you're planning on getting so drunk that your brain goes numb from stem upward, it's best to have a friend with you—especially you ladies—to fend off predators.

If you wake up feeling like you should quit, you should definitely quit. I quit drinking for a year and a half after I blacked out on Capitol Hill—I vaguely recall arguing with a cop and weepily hugging a tree in the rain and waking up in the International District with no shoes. I realized that hard liquor isn't for me; now I mostly stick to dark beers like Guinness. There hasn't been a relapse of the Sobbing Shoeless Days in five years. If you don't learn from your mistakes and recognize problem patterns, you're not just an asshole—you're an idiot. Further, if you drink and drive, you deserve to live every minute of the rest of your gonorrheal life wondering if you unwittingly killed a pedestrian. (Who's that at the door? Is that the cops?)

Your hangovers will teach you that life is too short for cheap beer, and the Sharpie tattoos will teach you that only a bitch passes out first, and the alienated friends will teach you that you shouldn't tell secrets when you're drunk. Most of these rules are common-sense stuff, though, and none negate the fact that drinking is fun. Like everything—except for sex—too much of a good thing is bad, but these are your college days and you're freewheeling, experimental, and indestructible. For now, there's almost no such thing as too much.

So cheers to you, drunky. Make us proud.