Last night, on the side of the road, with a flat tire and the Braves down 4-0 at the time, I was pretty pissed off. I was pissed off before that actually, and not even for a good reason, but I was pissed off nonetheless. The flat wasn’t terrible, so I was able to pull into a gas station to change my tire. Every once in a while I would pause from my frustrating labor and look into the gas station, longing for one of the beers within. The station had a shitty beer selection, but I didn’t care. A Natty would’ve been fine. After all, I had drowned plenty of college stress with a Natty or two (or seventeen). If anything, it was an old standby. No matter the options, all I wanted in that moment, after all the miniscule, aggravating, not-even-worth-the-stress first world problems I had put up with that day, was a goddamn drink.
If I’m drinking away my problems, those problems generally involve a girl, professional failure, or sports. I’m fairly certain that’s the same for most men, or really, all people (if you change “girl” to “romantic problems”). I should probably throw family death in there too. Can’t believe I almost forgot that; clearly I’m not a good person. To be fair, drinking at an Irish funeral isn’t so much a reaction as it is a custom. We wear black and we blackout. That’s totally why the family death thing was an afterthought, and not at all because I’m self-centered. Totally.
In my life, sports tend to be the most common cause for using alcohol as an emotional suppressant. I’m a Mizzou fan and a Braves fan. (*Pauses, takes a deep breath*) So, so much failure. What’s worse is that usually it’s not abject failure. At first there’s hope, potential even. That’s way worse. I can deal with a team sucking ass from day one. I’m a Rams fan too, after all. Lowered expectations are completely manageable, which leads me to wonder why I ever have drink to suppress emotions involving women.
The problem with drinking to suppress sports failure is that you’re likely already drunk when the failure occurs. One would think that an already numbed self would be less sensitive to the agony of defeat. HA. No. Alcohol is perfectly capable of suppressing emotion, for a little while anyway, if you’re sober. However, if that emotion is thrust upon someone while they’re drunk, like say losing the 2007 Big 12 Championship Game and thus a chance at ultimate glory in the BCS National Championship, then things are just going to get ugly. I don’t really remember how that night ended, but I do remember waking up the next morning, still in a fight with my then girlfriend. I like to think that’s why we didn’t ultimately work out. If she was right for me, we would have mutually hate fucked over the loss instead of her telling me that, “It’s not that big of a deal.” It IS that big of a deal! THIS IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE HOW DO YOU NOT REALIZE THIS!?! DID YOU GAIN WEIGHT?!?! I THINK IT ALL WENT TO YOUR DUMB ASS! Our two-year relationship later ended via text message. I’m a great boyfriend. With sports, you can at least take solace in the fact that there will always be another season.
Drinking after professional failure is actually my favorite. Take it from someone who has been fired before, you’re more relieved than anything. You feel free. You’re happy that you no longer have to take hangover naps on that cold handicapped bathroom floor, using a paper towel pillow and a Patagonia fleece jacket blanket, or deal with a boss who is legitimately less educated than you. You know your life is at a low point when you have to show someone getting paid more than you how to spell a two-syllable word. If anything, drinking for professional failure is a celebration. FUCK YOU AND YOUR SHITTY JOB! I mean, sure, three weeks later when you’re still unemployed the drinking is a little sadder. It’s like being the last guy drinking at the party while everyone else has left to get laid, but whatever. There will always be another job. The chances are slim you’ll end up a hobo, and if you do, well there’s always crack cocaine to suppress those emotions, but that’s for another column.
Drinking to suppress emotions surrounding a girl is, by far, the worst. For me, the biggest problem is that there’s so much to suppress in the first place that I don’t know where to start. Not only am I upset/angry/sad/annoyed for whatever reason, but also, I’m angry about the fact that I care at all. That is layered torment. STOP CARING! YOU’RE A MAN, DAMN IT! Those emotions are also quite often self-inflicted. I remember ending another two-year relationship, this time via Gchat, because, well, I’m awful (pretty sure my next breakup is going to be me flipping the bird in a Snapchat), and just before we had broken up, I was at the point where I knew it wasn’t working, wanted nothing more to do with her, and couldn’t wait to go meet other women. As soon as it was over, however, all I could think was, “Damn it, I miss her, she’s really pretty, she’s probably going to find someone before me and I WILL MURDER THE NEXT DUDE THAT PENETRATES HER!” I’ll take six shots of Rumple Minze and a bottle bourbon to deal with that bullshit, please. It doesn’t even matter if you’re getting laid yourself; you’re still going to think like that. Thankfully, even though it’s hard to realize at the time, there will always be another girl. In the immortal words of Kanye West, “There’s a thousand yous, there’s only one of me.” I also enjoy, “I’m just being honest, you could be anybody else,” the similar words from my friends in the band Mary and the Giant, and their serendipitously titled song, at least in terms of my most recent female emotional annoyance, “You Eat Like That?” Great band, you should check them out.
But the best part about drinking away girl problems is that you may very well actually solve your problems while out drinking. You’ll probably meet someone else while you’re drowning your soft, weak feelings like they’re a burlap sack full of kittens that no one in a rural area wanted. With sports, no matter how much you drink, unless you literally drink yourself into a coma, I guess, the next season isn’t coming any faster. Drinking excessively, while definitely a great way to numb professional failure, almost certainly won’t get you another job…unless you want to work for Post Grad Problems. But, whether you’ve just gotten out of a serious relationship or you’re attempting to move past getting burned by a girl who fucked you for attention, drinking is a relatively direct means to an end, and that’s pretty great, and super convenient.
After the tire was changed and the Braves had lost, I was still pretty pissed off about everything. So I walked into the gas station, bought twelve beers, drove to my buddy’s house, and we killed the beers along with some bourbon and scotch. I’m feeling better today, and also worse, because I’m hungover as balls, but it was worth it. Sometimes you just need a drink.