News From the Front

Thirsty Work

It was recently brought to my attention that in certain quarters drunkards are considered lazy and shiftless loafers. Let me be the first to say that nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s damn hard work being a drunkard. First, there’s the whole getting up thing. While I imagine hangover-free teetotalers spring out of bed at the crack of dawn for their morning herbal tea, the drunkard has a much heavier burden to bear. If the night before was worth remembering, if it can be remembered at all, he must carry the terrible weight of the mighty hangover. Based on an exhaustive series of experiments, I estimate a proper hangover to be the equivalent of a heated twenty-pound lead weight attached to the back of the head. With such a handicap it’s no wonder the act of merely rising from the bed (or floor) is a Herculean task in itself, an ordeal that would crush the very soul of lesser, non-drinking men.

Next the drunkard has to face the heart-rending task that non-drinkers are spared—the ejecting of unexpected guests. Sometimes they’re so unexpected they wake up right next to you. This job is akin to herding oversized, nasty-tempered sloths into an open furnace. It can take hours and makes the Jerry Springer Show seem like a Mormon choir practice.

Then he’s got to think about breakfast. Now, when I say breakfast, I do not mean to insinuate the drunkard has arisen at some ridiculous pre-noon hour. The drunkard’s day usually starts at around 2pm and continues unabated until five or so in the morning, so it’s perfectly natural to eat breakfast after most people have already digested lunch. Arranging breakfast is no easy chore, as nothing seems particularly good. Soon the thought of food fades into the background and a truly gargantuan struggle begins, a fearsome inner brawl that probably burns more calories than digging a granite ditch: should the drunkard have a little hair of the dog? A little eye-opener? To take the edge off? If you’re like me, the struggle is heroic, but brief.

Then there’s the walk to the liquor store because there is no hair of the dog in the house because the dog was devoured whole the night before. Though the liquor store may be a mere two blocks away, the trek can resemble a Dantean death march into the Eighth Circle of Hell (the Ninth Circle is reserved for AA meetings).

Once he’s had a good stiff patch of hair, he’ll naturally think: Hey, if the hide of the dog is so good, the rest of the mutt must be downright delicious. Now the drunkard bears down on his real work: getting drunk. Plumbers must plumb, former presidents must bus tables and drunkards must drink. It’s not as easy as it sounds. There is no magical pill he can simply pop, then start staggering around telling lies. No, he must hunker down and work at it, hard. For hours and hours on end. Wading courageously through endless beers, shots and mind-boggling liquor combinations. He must endure psyche-flaying conversations with loathsome bar dwellers, desperate struggles for control of the jukebox, not to mention those sudden fits of groveling to undeserving ladies who may or may not become unexpected guests in the morning. Then, well into overtime, he must suffer the cruel whipsong of last call, then toil mightily to discover who has liquor at their house and how he will get his hands on it. And, if successful, he must bear the brunt of even more drinking, sometimes in the company of those he despises.

So the next time you teetotalers prance past a bar and glance in, don’t look at the men hunkered at the bar as bums, layabouts or ne’er-do-wells. Look upon them as magnificent men working toward a terrible but necessary goal, toiling mightily so you may rest assured that no brewery or distillery shall ever have to lay off their workers and shut their lovely doors. Alrighty?

Views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Modern Drunkard staff or publisher. In fact, I would like to take this opportunity to deny everything. Your Honor, I was never even near the place and, what’s more, those are not my trousers and those are most assuredly not my friends. They are merely a drunken and surly gang of hitchhikers I made the terrible, terrible mistake of giving a lift. I promise to be good. Really. I swear.