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    Style Girlfriend Wants to Know: How Do You Keep From Going Overboard When You Go Out?

    8th August 2013
    Headed out of town again!

    New Orleans building

    I’m headed to New Orleans this weekend, which should be both fun and exhausting (hmm, that duality seems to be the theme of my summer travel, doesn’t it? “I’m so excited! …I need a nap!”).

    If you can believe it, I’ve never been before. Not for lack of interest in the legendary town, however. The city has been on my “to visit” list for quite awhile. Within the continental United States, it’s fallen alongside Austin and Santa Barbara as places I simply haven’t had a reason to visit (for weddings, or friends’ adopted hometowns after college), and haven’t been enough of a grown-up to just up and book a trip for myself.

    There will definitely be some…imbibing, and I’m well-aware that it would be very easy to go overboard in the home of Mardi Gras debauchery. But I won’t. I can’t. I don’t let myself.

    This fear of making a drunken ass of myself comes from a very real place. Namely, my brief but illustrious history of making a drunken ass of myself.

    At my sister’s stateside wedding reception just over seven years ago, I was right out of college, and not used to drinking around people my parents’ age, and certainly not around my relatives.

    Her actual wedding had taken place a month earlier, in Mexico, at an amazing all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya. Because it was a destination wedding, the number of attendees was considerably smaller than the guest list – mostly their close friends and immediate family.

    There were several firsts for me that weekend – my first time staying at an all-inclusive hotel (can you say nachos at 3am? Every single night?), my first Tecate (sent from the gods, I’m convinced of it), and my first time jumping into a pool fully clothed (the night of the wedding, along with the rest of the wedding party – save my sister and newly-minted brother-in-law). That last one, it can be inferred, was rather influenced by the second item on the list.

    At the reception in Wisconsin the next month, celebrating with those who didn’t make the trip below the border, that next ring of family and friends, I showed the same lack of restraint. When it came to celebrating, I was ready for round 2.

    In the face of an open beer and wine bar, my sister’s new sister-in-law (and by a stroke of luck I’ll forever be grateful for – my best friend from college) and I inexplicably decided that red wine was the way to go. Breakfast skipped in favor of an early morning hair appointment, combined with a passed hors ‘doeuvres setting (i.e., no real meal all day), she and I quickly turned into the grumpy old men from the Muppets – but drunk. We heckled speech makers, toasted our own cleverness, and generally made all-around fools of ourselves.

    Today I’m big on the “one drink, one glass of water” rule. Between every drink – be it a beer, cocktail, or glass of wine – I make sure to down some water (or maybe a soda) to enforce a well-paced evening.

    Being a drunk idiot is, plainly put, the worst. For women, it’s an unfortunate fact that it’s not only unbecoming but also unsafe. I never want to find myself in the position of not being able to get myself home, or speak clearly, or walk in a straight line. Luckily – or was it? – for me, my folks were able to haul me home from my sister’s wedding reception and put me to bed. But that level of protection (and that’s exactly what it is) can’t be guaranteed.

    For guys, drinking too much is simply unattractive. I don’t want to see a man I’m either interested in or involved with acting like a sloppy mess. Why would I want to introduce you to my friends if I was afraid you’d have one whiskey too many and start blathering about how you could totally take Sandor Clegane in a fight? Why would I take you home to meet my parents if I thought you’d polish off a bottle of wine at dinner and try to grope me in front of my mom?

    Of course, I’m not completely devoid of fun in my life, and I don’t think you should be either. But there’s a fine line between happily drunk (or at least tipsy), which is great from time to time, and throwing up outside on your new shoes. All I’m saying is: it’s good to have a game plan so you don’t slip unintentionally from the former to the latter.

    My family will never let me live down my youthful indiscretion. And while they tease me lovingly about the past, no harm was done and I can never drink red wine in their presence again.

    All I know is, I don’t want to be too hungover for beignets. I’ve heard they’re delicious.

    Tell me:

    How do you keep yourself from making a fool of yourself when you’re out having fun?

    (image via Flickr)

     

    • average joe

      I don’t like getting sick off of alcohol – that’s what keeps me from making a fool of myself. I hate it when you’ve been out drinking, and then try and lie down and go to sleep and the room spins. Plus as a parent, you’ve got to make good choices will alcohol (driving, etc)

      • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

        That’s good willpower you’ve got! Sometimes when you’re in the middle of drinking, the next day’s hangover is the last thing on your mind, so I respect your self-restraint!

    • Jon B.

      For me, the main way I keep from going overboard is remembering how a hangover feels. Feeling sick, useless, and wanting to curl up under a rock and hiss anyone who comes near is not something I wish to repeat. However, as I’m sure y’all have never experienced that, there are some other pointers that have come in handy:

      1) Stay away from sugary drinks (jack & coke, pina colada, margaritas, long island iced teas). The sugar in those drinks makes it worse. Alternative: cape cods, screwdrivers, or my favorite, neat.

      2) Bring your ID, and cash. And nothing else. Say if you only bring, 50 bucks, there is a set amount of alcohol you can drink. Once you’re out of cash, start on the water. Plus, bartenders like cash (or at least I know I did).

      3) Don’t feel you need to keep up. This is biggest mistake you can make. What’s worse than your friend getting plastered after downing 5 shots? Both of you being plastered. Drink, and have fun, on your own terms, not someone else’s.

      And that’s it. Be responsible, and have fun. Because seriously, hangovers are the worst.

      • average joe

        #2 is good advice

    • Mathew

      How much I drink and my “strategy” for how to keep myself at that limit is directly correlated to the company I am with.

      Professional Setting: Whether it’s a company party, networking event, or happy hour with colleagues, I try to not drink more than one per hour, and typically not more than three (if it’s a long event).

      Casual “Respectable” Setting: If it’s socially acceptable, and I feel like being in the tipsy to just a tad drunk range, my main rule is to stick to low ABV beer i.e approximately 5%. I have found that as long as I don’t shotgun beers or switch to stronger drinks, I can keep myself respectable and sociable by casually drinking at a normal pace.

      Bar Setting With Friends Who Enjoy Drinking: If it’s the type of setting where I’m with good friends who also enjoy drinking, and it’s socially acceptable to be past the tipsy stage; i.e into the happy drunk stage, but want to avoid a terrible hangover (and bad decisions), I agree with Jon that skipping sugary drinks is the best way to go.

      IMO, the best way to go is ordering classic cocktails such as an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, or, perfect for summer, a Negroni. If you’re at a bar that isn’t into the whole “classic cocktail” thing, a dark and stormy and moscow mule are also pretty fool proof drinks that are great for summer and not too sugary. These drinks aren’t mixed with very sweet mixers, and since they typically cost a bit more (worth it for the taste and ingredients), I tend to not order as many.

      • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

        Mmm, Negronis..

    • Jaime Olivo Jr

      FRIENDS. The right people you surround yourself with help a lot. Enjoy “Nawlins”, the beignets are great after hitting up the bars…plus no crowd? Yes, please.

    • Tod C

      Start strong finish weak. i.e. if you are a beer drinker drink one or 2 high alcohol beers and then switch to the lighter beer. In the UK for example I finish up with Milds which tend to be between 3-4% alcohol. The others with me tend to go the other way as their bravery increases.

      Stay off the hard stuff or if you do a pint of water for every hard drink. If you are thirsty drink water.

      Make sure you know how strong what you are drinking is – beer and cider especially vary wildly in alcohol content country to country. I had an 8% Lowenbrau in Europe once which really surprised me.

      Despite all of that some of the best times I have had personally and professionally have been over drinks so don’t swear off them. A lot of great ideas and solid business relationships came out over drinks.

      • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

        Good point – have a delicious (ie, strong) beer or two to start, then scale back to a still delicious (in my opinion) but watery Miller Lite. You can’t lose!

    • Drew J

      I tend to tailor my drinking to my setting and know my surroundings. Dinner party at couple friends’ house? Let’s open some more wine and take a cab home. Company cocktail party, need to pace yourself.

      If I know its going to be a longer event, I’ll try and drink beer and stay away from scotch or cocktails. I run into the problem that I tend to drink everything at the same pace whether it is a glass of water or a double bourbon.

      A new go-to move of mine when I’m trying to keep the foot off the accelerator as I’m socializing is to just order a tonic and lime. It looks like a cocktail, it basically tastes like a cocktail, but it doesn’t have the same negative affect that 9 G&T’s might have on my social standing.

      • ATLien

        I’ve got the same problem as you that I drink everything at the same pace. That’s generally why I stick to light beer. I can drink a bunch of those without acting crazy.

        • Drew J

          Yeah, I have to be careful when having fancy/good beer as I’ll suck down a couple of 9%ABV DIPAs at the same pace that I would a Bud Light in the backyard.

      • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

        Well put!

        And yes, I’m a big fan of the club soda with a lime wedge move. Very stealthy..

    • Cooper

      Please tell me you stopped by Cafe du Monde for those drunk beignets!

      • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

        I think I’ll have to!

    • ATLien

      I could write a book on my many (mostly failed) experiments in not drinking too much.

      I’ve basically got three rules now that I follow:

      1. Try not to day-drink. Sometimes it is inevitable, but I find that most of the worst drunken nights I have had started out when I was drinking at 1 o’clock in the afternoon.

      2. Have some sort of “activity” that you are doing when drinking. This can be as simple as watching a football game on TV at the bar, or going bowling. This way, the emphasis is not on drinking, but on something else and you just happen to be drinking. Anytime that I go somewhere for the sake of drinking, I end up drinking too much.

      3. Be careful about who you hang out with. I’ve got a friend of mine that I’ve known for years that causes me to drink way too much every time we hang out if it is just me and him. Whenever I hang out with him, I make sure that there are other people around.

      • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

        thank you for sharing! I especially agree on #1; I used to be able to day drink in college (college football tailgates get you pretty well up to speed on this talent), but really cannot hang anymore. Not that that’s a bad thing!

    • ilyac

      If i’m going out to have fun, it’s rarely to drink. Drinking is often involved, but not the reason I go out. Seeing friends, bowling, a concert, etc, I’d rather drink moderately and enjoy where I am and who i’m with than drink heavily and feel awful the next morning. Just keeping this mentality usually helps me pace myself and remember to get a water every so often.
      Aside from that, I try to stick with one type of alcohol for the night usually and I avoid sugary drinks (Rum and more Liqueurs included) as that usually does not agree with me. Like everyone else, sometimes the system fails and most of us have out moments of drunken idiocy.

      • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

        Those are all good strategies! I especially like “I’m not going out to drink…just to drink.” That is a good point I didn’t make but definitely agree with!

    • SJR

      Oh boy, where to begin… lol… I hate hangovers too, so now I pace myself very carefully(and since I don’t drink much, it only takes a couple to get me tipsy) But back in the day my common mistakes were generally: starting early, mixing drinks(or mixing drinks and pot… both surefire ways to end up calling Tokyo on the big white telephone, haha) and hanging around with a party crowd. Heavy drinking seems fun at the time but it’s a waste of time, find a better crowd doing more productive things!

    • Alexander

      1.) Don’t drink things you don’t like, that never works out well.

      2.) Don’t drink things you know you can’t handle, I’ve seen a LOT of people who can’t handle Jägermeister pump down bottles of that stuff and it’s just a gross mess. Literally, it seems to be pretty good at getting people to throw up and smell worse than organic waste for another 12 hours.
      3.) Take your time, nobody needs to prove how “awesome” (or rather foolish) they are by going overboard on purpose
      4.) This might just be the most important and most simple: Know your limit, not just when you stop walking straight or throw up. If you belong to the people whose “control” slips (being dramatic, overly aggressive ect.) after a certain amount know when it happens and don’t go there or stop when you start feeling hints of that.

      I have to admit I have rarely had big problems in that area since I’m pretty picky with alcohol and I’m usually on a budget. I guess being in a good & entertaining environment as others have stated is also quite helpful (that way you don’t start drinking to combat boredom).

    • Dan from Wisconsin

      But I mean, if I had a flaming sword, there’s a chance I could take Sandor Clegane, right?

      I like the one-drink-one-water idea, I’ll have to try that. Although once the seal is broken I would anticipate a lot of “breaks.”

      • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

        I’ll admit – I asked my brother-in-law for a good “scary guy” GoT recommendation. I’d never have come up with that on my own.

        As for breaking the seal, having to pause for bathroom breaks isn’t such a bad thing right? Gives you a little more time to reassess how many more drinks you actually need or want!

    • Glenn Pagano

      For my to keep from going overboard is not to drink!

    • AL-MO

      Moderation is my theme for 2013. 2012 (including New Years) ended with a couple messy nights and I’ve had a checkered history of not being able to handle my alcohol anyway. I don’t really have any techniques, I just try not to drink everything in sight and my first thought when I go out is not “What am I going to drink?”.

      The cost of booze up here in Toronto helps my 2013 theme as it is really expensive to go out if you plan on drinking heavy. My wallet is a bit happier these days.

      Moderation is working well for 2013.

    • Christian

      Hope you packed for sweltering weather. Haha. The last two weeks have been the ABSOLUTE WORST.

      • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

        Ha, oh no! Well, I brought a swimsuit, so maybe I’ll just wear that :)

    • Tall Megan

      I was under the impression we would never speak of that day again. Thankfully you left out the part where we cried.

      • http://www.stylegirlfriend.com Style Girlfriend

        Don’t worry. That part will stay just between us..

    • Arkhangael

      Not drinking is my option.