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The college football game I had traveled to a bar to watch in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois was just about at capacity when I found my friend and his crew of flunkies at a table near the back of the establishment.
I sauntered over to the table and grabbed a seat, trying my best not to give away the obvious: I was hammered drunk.
Never has a sentence been said to me with so much condescension. “Did ya have a few cocktails this afternoon, there, John?”
“Yeah, I had two or three beers before I got here. Big deal. How about you just get off of my ass and hand me one of those Buddy Lights? I’m losing steam here.”
My friend was taken aback. I had been drinking for four or five hours already and I was waning. In my drunken haze the comeback “Yeah, I had a few chardonnays what of it?” simply didn’t come to mind.
But hindsight is 20/20. I wasn’t in a state of mind where movie quotes were coming to me with ease. We traded a few more light jabs before we settled in and watched the game.
What followed was a barrage of light beer and tequila shots and not a whole lot of watching whatever game was on television that night. This was over a year ago, so the details are fuzzy.
What I do remember is stumbling out of the bar some two or three hours later and getting blindsided by a police officer.
I was tripping all over myself, yelling at the top of my lungs about God knows what and trying to figure out where I was in relation to my current surroundings. My buddy and I naturally got stopped by the cop.
Keep in mind that I had met up with my friend just a few hours prior, and he probably should have been handling the talking as he was significantly less drunk than I was. At this point, however, I had an abundance of liquid courage.
“How much have you had to drink tonight?” the officer said.
“Ahhh, I don’t know. Two, maybe three beers?”
“Jesus. Okay, listen I don’t want to see you out again tonight. Get back to your place and go to sleep.”
All I have to say is God bless that cop. I should have been arrested for public intoxication, but I think he just had bigger fish to fry that night.
In any case, the above is how an interaction usually goes between a person who is clearly over-served and a person who has decidedly not been.
It could be a police officer asking you how much you’ve had to drink. It could be your significant other that’s been waiting up for you to get home from the bar with your mates. Maybe it’s just one of your friends trying to make you look like an asshole.
The bottom line is that it’s always the same answer to that question “How much have you had to drink tonight?”
“How much have I had to drink tonight?” It comes as a shock to the drunkard. They hesitate for a moment, stalling while their booze-soaked brain tries to compute a reasonable response. And then just like clockwork the words come tumbling out of your mouth.
“Two or three beers.”
We see it on COPS when perps get pulled over at a DUI stop and I know personally I’ve said this more times than I can count. It’s always two or three beers when you’re getting questioned.
Two or three beers seems like a reasonable response in the moment, doesn’t it? When a drunk person has been asked, especially by a lawman, about how much they’ve had to drink, they know that the answer needs to be low, but not too high that it will start raising suspicion.
It seems like the best answer. In reality, it’s clear to anyone that isn’t completely shitcanned that you’ve had more than two or three beers. And in some ways I think (or at least hope) that you get pity points for giving out this response.
“This is the worst lie I’ve heard today.” the interrogator thinks. “Gotta cut him some slack, that’s actually pretty funny that he thought I’d believe he only had a couple of beers.”
It lightens the collective mood a bit because when you slur “two or three beers” out of your mouth it implies that you’re 1.) A lightweight, and 2.) A terrible liar.
Because it’s never just one, two, or three beers and then home. No, no. Beer two and three are where the night begins. Beer two and three send you hurtling down that slippery slope towards shots, Adderall, cocaine in the bar bathroom, and sex with a hard 5 who says she’s only in town for the weekend.
The answer “Two or three beers” to a question about how much you’ve had to drink signals to everyone that you’re lit up like a fucking Christmas tree.
Next time a cop, your significant other, or your buddy condescendingly asks you how much you’ve drank tonight, just throw him the old “two or three beers” line. Works every time. .