Raising the Bar.

Drinking can change a lot. This must be said. Yes. The ocean looks bluer. We know. And your jokes? Way better, right? The laughs are just way better. You just start to like where you are, no matter where that is. It can make you good with the world. And this really can be a good thing. Seriously.

But we need to figure out that the drinker is usually not self-aware. Observe yourself and take notes. That’s a key to drinking: don’t stop looking. When you are less drunk than everyone else, look around. When you are more drunk than anyone else, look at your own reflection in the mirror. To persist, you must make a style out of it. Don’t slouch. Don’t slosh. Make rules: Don’t chug. Don’t shotgun. Don’t hoot. Like that. Walk into a bar as if you’ve been there before. When entering a crowded joint, know your poison. Order simply and clearly. If the bar is uncrowded, if the bartender is smart and attentive, ask for recommendations. Draft your own lessons. Learn from your mistakes. Quickly. You get a couple when you start. After that it’s on you.

Lose the urgency, too. Drinking should not be the event in itself.

There is no lesson plan, but you have to learn. No authoritative how-to. That’s your job. Everyone in a bar is a kind of how-to. How to handle it, how to share it, and how to let it go. Drinking must be mastered, or it will master you.

Every once in a while, you’ll turn around and you’ll encounter that guy, any one of many guys, really — the shouter, the stumbler, the puncher, the teary guy, the sleepy drunk, the chest-poker, the jabbermouth, the spitter, the wobbly fool. One version or another, he’s always there. Really look then. Understand that that guy doesn’t know what he is, doesn’t know what he looks like, what people say about him. Fair warning: You’ll probably be every one of those guys eventually. Figure out that you don’t have to be.

Start again if you want. Be better at it this time. And last but not the least, know when to abstain and when to have a hearty time…responsibly!

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