The Art Of Pregaming

Pregame (v.) – To drink before an event (which may or may not also involve drinking), typically at a rapid and immoderate pace.

Pregaming is a based on the theory “Too much of a good thing is an even better thing.” Or, as George Burns once said, “It only takes one drink to get me loaded. Trouble is, I can’t remember if it’s the thirteenth or fourteenth.”

Not surprisingly, the principles of pregaming generally aren’t embraced by society outside the realm of drinking. Recall, for example, your mother reprimanding you for snacking before dinner, warning that “you’ll ruin your appetite!” Or, consider the fact that one rarely masturbates immediately before sex.

Unless you do masturbate right before sex, which I suppose might potentially make you last longer.

Hmm. Hold on just a second while I write a brief personal notation to myself.

Thank you. Returning to pregaming, I suppose the best analogous would be stretching before exercise. However, there are discrepancies: First of all, the idea behind stretching is to warm up your muscles and prevent yourself from straining or pulling any of them, as well as to improve performance by preparing your body for exertion. Conversely, pregaming doesn’t exactly prepare your body for drinking – it’s not like it “loosens up” your liver or “stretches out” your esophagus. It also doesn’t improve drinking performance, unless you assess high-performance drinking by the quantity of bad decisions you make or the quality of your resulting hangover.

Pregaming, by definition, is excessive and unnecessary. Paradoxically, it seems to be increasingly popular as our society becomes more and more self-conscious and chemically dependent. There are several main reasons that people decide to pregame:

Thought Catalog Flickr
Thought Catalog Flickr
  1. They are trying to save money. Drinks at the bar can be expensive, especially in major cities. On the other hand, store-bought Natty Light must be one of the world’s most abundant resources, because it is only slightly more expensive than oxygen.
  2. They are going to an event that they think will be boring or lame unless they are appropriately buzzed, like a school dance, sporting event, or the birth of their second child.
  3. They are trying to fend off the nervous jitters provoked by social gatherings. Pregaming helps people become more outgoing, relaxed, funny, and only 60% more likely to end the night with vomit in their pants pocket.
  4. They feel trapped within a prescribed set of weekend rituals so stagnant and calculated that their only recourse is to be drunk for the entirety of the proceedings (read: they need to be drunk to drink), so as to numb their sense of despair and alienation. Haha jk!
  5. “Wait, we’re going somewhere later? No, I actually always do this on Wednesday nights. That’s convenient, though.”

Regardless of the reason you choose to pregame, you should be aware of some unintended side effects. First, there is a distinct chance that you’ll never actually make it out to the event that you are pregaming for; pregaming is a lot of fun. It generally includes only your closest friends, so the drunker you get, the less the incentive for actually leaving. Plus you get to choose the music! Since the line between “pregame” and “game” is a thin one to begin with, your pre-event festivities may eventually just transform into an event in and of itself. For example, my entire junior year of college was one extended pregame that never actually materialized into any kind of distinguishable event. In olden times, these “extended pregames” were referred to as “binges” or “benders,” or you were simply assured that, “Your father’s on a business trip.”

Another unforeseen result is that once you realize that pregaming can transform even the most dreaded of events into a raucous haze, you may be tempted to start pregaming more and more often: Your pregaming started off as a weekend-only thing, sharing drinks with friends before heading out to the bar or a party. Next thing you know, you and a couple of close friends are doing a Power Hour or ripping shots on Thursday nights before heading out to the movie theater or going out dinner. Before you know it, you’re pregaming for events typically associated with sobriety, like writing a paper, working out, or eating breakfast. Once it’s considered acceptable to drink before drinking, it’s pretty much all downhill from there.

While drinking before going out is not exactly a revolutionary idea, the current incarnation of “pregaming” is very much a product of our times. We crave instant gratification, usually via distraction. This compulsion to fulfill any and all desires is encouraged by our constant connectivity with friends and family, our ability to instantly procure almost any information at any time, and our access to constant streams of news and entertainment; and that’s just your fucking phone.

The thirst for diversion spills in to other areas of life and makes for an interesting mix when combined with alcohol. One of the things people love about alcohol is that it makes it easier to indulge yourself; once you lose your inhibitions, you don’t feel so guilty about eating Taco Bell, dancing your ass off, getting into a fight, or making out with your co-worker. Alcohol is gratification in a can (or a bottle or glass for you classy folk) – a permission slip for doing whatever the hell you want, whenever the hell you want. But, what if all you want is to be drunk? Since drinking is only really approved of in certain settings, we’ve created additional opportunities for drinking. Now it’s okay to drink before you drink! And if it’s okay to drink before you drink, and if there’s always some hypothetical event in the future in which it is acceptable to drink, then it’s always okay to drink — that’s just basic logic.

It falls under a similar corollary as, “Pizza in the morning, pizza in the evening, pizza at supper time — when pizza’s on a bagel, you can eat pizza anytime.” It’s an air-tight, self-perpetuating cycle.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some pre-gaming that I need to pre-game for. It’s called pre-pregaming, and all the cool kids are doing it. TC Mark

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