Sunday, February 3, 2013

Drinking Practice...for 13 Year Olds

I still remember my first(and last) drinking game. I was terrified and embarrassed and humiliated. Everything my mother said I would be...or would have said I would be if she ever would have acknowledged the presence of drinking games. (Instead we usually got the very cryptic, generalized "nothing good ever happens after midnight" speech. And if it wasn't good, we didn't need to know about it.)

I was so naive. How they ever let me into that sorority, I'll never know. And why I thought it was a good idea to attend that frat party is even a bigger mystery. Nevertheless, there I was, surrounded by a bunch of very impressive, beautiful, cool, drunkards falling all over themselves and each other with inebriation and laughter because of a question and answer game that resulted in someone--the winner, the loser, I'm still not sure--chugging a beer.

Ok, let's stop right there while I give you a bit of history. First, I HATED the taste of beer. Still do. It tastes like sweaty gym socks soaked in urine. In addition, the only experience I had had with "chugging" was downing big gulps out of the milk carton before my mom walked in the kitchen and caught me.

So I decided I just had to be part of this party game. I answered a question, everyone laughed, and before I knew it, someone was shoving a beer in my face. I chugged a can of sweaty urine and it came right back up, like a baby who sucked down his formula too fast. As if the fact that I had no idea what the game was, how it was played, how you won or how you lost was not embarrassing enough for my stupidly naive college sorority self, now I was covered in beer vomit. Soooo cool! At least I wasn't so stupid as to repeat the drinking game experience. I did have enough brain cells left to figure out that the name, rules, and winners of the game truly didn't matter. The purpose was to get drunk--that was it. Wow! How bored and pathetic must the very impressive, beautiful, cool people be if this was their idea of fun.

So here's the question. Why, if the purpose of a drinking game is to get drunk, why oh why are our middle schoolers playing non-alcoholic versions of them at parties? I was shocked the night my 8th grader came home from a birthday party at the home of a friend with the parents present, and he started describing the fun party games--various versions of Truth and Dare or Have You Ever where the party players had to drink for answering a certain way. There was also the Blink and Drink game where partiers watched Twilight and took a drink of soda every time Kristin Stewart blinked. So I asked my child what was the point of those games. His answer came with a vague, confused expression--to find a reason to take a drink.

I was shocked. Then I was mad. Then I was disgusted. Not with my child, but with the parents. Does it matter that there was no alcohol in their Red Solo Cups? Did the parents ever check on the kids? Did they not provide alternative activities that didn't involve mock drinking games? Was this the best entertainment they could come up with for a bunch of 13 year olds? What is wrong with parents who think this kind of fun is ok or even cool for our kids? For crying out loud, do we not have Google for a reason? If you can't think of something more appropriate, Google it. If nothing else, go to Laser Quest. Rent an inflatable obstacle course. Host a Nerf War. Play Dodge Ball. Surely, we can do better for our kids.

One humiliating, gross experience with a drinking game made me realize that all these cool kids weren't really cool at all and that games played for the purpose of finding a reason to take a drink were not only a waste of time, but also a poor determination of friendship. I was in college, arguable the appropriate time to become "educated" enough to make those kinds of educated decisions. And maybe I didn't need that much "education" because I had been exposed to a myriad of other kinds of fun that don't have "finding a reason to drink" as the purpose. So I guess I'm admitting that I'm glad for naivety that night. I think it gave me healthy perspective. Maybe we should give our kids a little naivety too, instead of helping them find a reason to drink. Wouldn't that be cool?

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