I don’t know what it is. Really, I don’t. Apparently there’s this part of my brain, lodged uncomfortably somewhere between the temporal lobe and the cerebellum, that drives me against my will to start aimless conversations while drunk. No matter how unengaged the interlocutor, how uncomfortable the scenario, how forced the interaction–I’ll do it. I’ll lean sloppily forward after a particularly long sip and launch into the kind of monologue that inevitably leaves me, the next morning, with a distinct feeling of “What the hell is wrong with me? I’m like a drunk, pretentious Joy Behar,” as I ruefully stir my Fruity Pebbles. I cringe when I look back at all of the stupid asides and egregious oversharing. And while almost all of the conversations I’m inclined to make while three sheets to the wind are certainly something I’d reconsider if sober, there are a few choice exchanges that lead nowhere so quickly, I must learn to drop them altogether.
1. “You are just sooooo pretty.” They could have a major at liberal arts universities dedicated to the vigor and gusto with which women will tell each other, while drunk, how beautiful they are. There is perhaps a degree of catharsis–we spend our lives in competition with each other over physical beauty, constantly being shown unattainable, photoshopped images of what we’re supposed to look like, it’s nice to once in a while just break down and tell each other we look pretty in our nice blue dress. However, the ludicrousness of woman-on-woman complimenting is directly proportional to level of drunkenness, and it’s an exponential equation.
- 1 drink: Wow, Sarah, I really love that dress. It’s really flattering on you–where did you get it?
- 2 drinks: It’s just really pretty on you, and your hair looks so beautiful. It’s so shiny, too. [Casually grabs a lock of hair to feel the silkiness] It’s like a fucking Pantene Pro-V commercial. Jealousssss.
- 4 drinks: I just love your boobs. Can I just say that? Like, seriously, every time I see your boobs my boobs just get all sad inside. I mean it–your boobs are like these two amazing pillows filled with whipped cream and mine are like these pathetic little windsocks on a still day.
- 7 drinks: FUCK you’re sooo beautiful. Like, just come dance with me right now. I just want to dance with you right now, you are so gorgeous. Like oh my god you are gorgeous, not even talking about your physical beauty though because you just are this radiant light that emits happiness and I just want to sit near it and get a tan from it. You just, ugh, I don’t feel so good.
2. “You know who you totally look like?!” There is a certain phenomenon in drunkenness that leads one to believe all uninteresting or socially unacceptable conversation openers are the stuff of silver-tongued genius. Telling a stranger they look like a minor celebrity, or someone they will never meet, is among them. We see people all the time who kind of vaguely look like this one guy from your high school who never gave your iPod cable back, but we are able, in sobriety, to resist the urge to grab his shoulder and tell him that. And even if the resemblance is so incredibly striking that it elicits the showing of pictures on Facebook on your cellphone for proof, the most you can hope to gain out of the exchange is a half-hearted agreement about something that couldn’t matter in the least.
How the conversation goes in your mind:
You: Good evening, nice to meet you. I’m sorry to bother you, but I couldn’t help but remark on how uncanny the resemblance is between you and my younger sister.
Her: Hah! What a delightful little twist to my evening on the town! Please, I’d so love to take a look at any picture you might have of her! [coquettish giggle]
You: Why, here you go! Striking, isn’t it?
Her: This is incredible, truly remarkable! We look just alike, it’s true! How charming. Barkeep, a round for this gentleman and scholar who all but reunited twins separated at birth.
Crowd: Hip hip! Hooray!
How the conversation actually goes:
You: HEY oh my goddddddddd hey hold on hey
Her: Umm, yes?
You: Yo you look EXACTLY like this girl you’ve never met
Her: I look like who?
You: This girl Katie I had a psych lecture with, you just totally look like her, you have no idea.
Her: Oh, that’s cool.
You: Yeah it’s like same hair and everything, even like the way you talk is the same, all nasal and shit. It’s crazy.
Her: What? Umm, look, I gotta run–it was nice to meet you!
You: You have no idea dude you look totally just like her it’s like I can’t even man.
3. “We should totally hang out more.” What is it about being drunk that motivates you to repair all of the bridges you’ve long ago burned or abandoned, usually for good reason? What is it about being drunk that convinces us that people we have nothing in common with, people we don’t really want to hang out with while sober, should be our best friends? I know that we become this warm, fuzzy cardigan sweater of friendship while drunk, I know we want everyone to just get along and do a shot with us (and are convinced that buying another round could end any military conflict, if done on a wide enough scale), but we occasionally dig ourselves into deep, awkward holes of social commitment that no one wants to live up to the next day.
Normal conversation with benign acquaintance:
You: Hey, how’s it going?
Her: Oh, you know. Just finishing up my summer class, about to go to the beach for a week. Pretty excited.
You: Hey, that’s cool. You must be looking forward to it. What summer class?
Her: It’s about the history of the European Union, it’s pretty interesting.
You: Sounds it. Hey, I gotta run. Nice running into you!
Her: You, too! Bye!
Drunk conversation with benign acquaintance:
You: Heyyyyyyy youuuuuuu
Her: Oh my god whatssuuppp
You: What is this like the tenth time we’ve run into each other god is telling us something you know
You: We need to totally hang out more
Her: You’re so right
You: No, like I’m serious. I’m serious. We always say that shit to each other and we totally don’t mean it but you’re like a really good person and I’m trying to have more of that in my life you know
Her: I know what you mean, like, I love our time together–we need to see each other every day.
You: We need to like organize regular meals together and have our children at the same time so they can grow up and be best friends.
Her: Omigod, we totally do.
You: What’s your number–do you want a shot?!
The next morning:
What the fuck is this number? Wait…oh, her! She doesn’t actually expect me to call her, does she? Yikes, that girl has the personality of a soggy piece of bread. Deeee-lete.
4. [Insert awkward personal drama that should be resolved or addressed in a moment of calm, reflective sobriety but is going to be brought up between you at the worst, most drunken moment possible here.] So, there they are, holding a beer and being awkwardly distant while you stew over your drink–that person for whom you have more than a few choice words. Did you have an awkward fight between friends? Did you break up a while ago and recently find out they are dating someone new? Did you hear something that may have been said and want to tell the gossip in question that it’s not true and you don’t appreciate being talked about, like, at all brooooo?
Now’s the time to awkwardly pull them aside and start a serious breaking down of your issues in the corner of a bar/party while people shuffle past. And though it can occasionally resolve in the kind of drunken bear hugging that leads to years of lasting friendship, most of the time the inebriation combined with the inappropriateness of the setting leads to a less-than-ideal exchange of ideas.
Ideas you should be conveying in this conversation:
- The lack of respect you feel they are showing for you with their behavior.
- The disappointment you feel that they couldn’t talk you face-to-face.
- A reasonable listing of a few of the specific things done that hurt you.
- Apologies for the part you played in this scenario.
- The desire to reconcile.
- The desire for honesty in the future.
Ideas you will convey in this conversation:
- How you’re not even that drunk, this has nothing to do with that at all, come on.
- How the person has been a total dick and you’re just tired of dealing with it.
- Hold on, hold on, let me finish, though.
- I just….I love you, man.
- The varying degrees of fucks you do not give in relation to their side of the story.
- The desire to patch things up, with heavy implications that you consider yourself the better person for extending the olive branch.
- Your uncanny ability to give left-handed compliments while drunk.
As with most of these conversations, they will often end in a sloppy bear hug and a drink, leading one to believe the exchange has been a success. But the truth is, drunk people will hug anything and no one needs another excuse to have a drink. Better to keep the conversation light and try not let the part of your personality that needs every conversation to happen with a hand on the shoulder and a “seriously, though” at the beginning of every sentence become Drunk You.