PATRICK STEPHENSON

Earthbound concerns of an ascendant adult

“Sober Up, Ya Punks”

by Patrick Stephenson,
consummate moral authority

TEMPERAMENTAL RIFT // During one recent, 1am stroll to my neighborhood’s cleanly and attractive supermarket, I encountered a microcosm of my demographic. While his friend steered past, some drunk genius rolled his passenger window down to greet me. “AHHH!!” he screamed as they drove by. Alkie“AHHH!!” With paltry mustered pity, I gazed upon the fool as he AHHHed and then disappeared. “Is this,” I wondered as I lugged my purchase across the street, “the best we have to offer?” Sadly, with much despair, I assented.

The rest of the walk, I reflected on past generations—the Greatest one, the Boomer one, maybe that X one. Were all those wars and sacrifices of generations past waged and made so that a moron could scream at an innocent shopgoer? Is this—truly—how my generation is using the freedoms those generations secured? The yellow-shirted drunk I’d encountered, I decided, indicated a larger problem. He was one among many regularly opting to get stupid drunk. Every weekend, nationwide, similarly aged people come to a similar conclusion: I must booze it up.

“C’mon,” someone’ll say if you refuse to drink. “Live a little.” Am I alone in sensing the contradiction? Truly living, according to this statement, requires dulling oneself to the world—with drink. Therefore, in order to live, inside we must die—because drinking kills brain cells, and in large doses, contributes to our liver’s corrosion. In addition, I’ve read youths must drink because drunkenness allows us to have ‘unique experiences’ that occur outside our lives. Hogswallop!

When drinking, the thinking goes, we transcend ‘normal experience,’ with the work and the school, and ascend into unmapped terrain. Where ‘crazy behavior’ is normal, we can finally break free from social expectation and act without inhibition. However, that youth-aged drinking is so widespread dismantles any belief that inebriating is non-conformist, and thus a form of rebellion. Truly, drinking is as conformist as dressing in black, wearing scary makeup and calling yourself a goth. Goths and drunks are merely permutations of the same, pathetic urge made manifest. To conform, while seeming to rebel. To belong, while standing apart.

The touchstones of our drunk stories are further evidence. Always, there is vomiting and outdoor urination. Ask a big-time drinker for stories and he’ll tell you about the time he pissed into a water fountain, and that other time he vomited off a bridge, or onto a cop, or all over his pants. We aren’t keeping our food down! Rebel, rebel. We’re peeing quite frequently, in inappropriate places. Oh, rebellion deluxe.

These are, for serious, the ways my people rebel. We show the man we mean biz by dirtying his public parks and sidewalks. We idolize morons who abused the gross-tasting substances we covet, and who as a result, died. Think Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jackson Pollock! This is the laziest sort of rebellion. We’re apathetic about war, however unjust it might be, but instead of protesting in large numbers, we’ll gladly rebel by screaming at some random guy. We’ll vent on a square, not the authorities who deserve it.

I offer solutions. Rather than using alcohol to break down our inhibitions, I suggest we all talk more freely with each other. Be more accepting of the awkward in social situations, and they’ll feel less forced to drink in order to fit in. If you want to “live a little,” do not drink. Take a walk around your neighborhood or down the forest path behind your house. Living is a matter of engaging—not denying—the world. Also, read a book or two, as long as the author wasn’t/isn’t alcoholic. (Good luck.) Drinking is, of course, fine in moderation. Those past, semi-heroic generations drank, too. Where we and they differ, though, lies in the frequency and amount of our drinking. Where they drank a bit of brandy for fun, we drink in binges. This isn’t good. This isn’t acceptable. We’re capable of more.

Written by patiomensch

February 28, 2007 at 4:47 am

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