The first time I ever saw someone completely trolleyed was at Ayan’s party in the Xth Std. It was also the first time someone served alcohol at a party (as far as I know). Leo and I both made a conscious decision not to drink at all at this party. (I know! Leo! Not drinking! Free booze too. I mean, It’s momentous! It’s astounding! I can barely believe it myself!!)
We stood on the side like a couple of old women watching various people whose behavior got progressively worse as the night wore on. There was a fat Sardaji slumped by a terrace wall, swinging around a half empty bottle, while shouting at the top of his lungs,
“MA, SHAKTI DE! MA, SHAKTI DE!!”
(Ma, give me strength!)
and Leo and I smugly thought,
“Tsk Tsk tsk. We will never behave like these rowdies…”
I’ve dealt with a few drunks over the years, Leo, the ex, the ex’s gay friend, my gay friend, randoms here and there. Although I’ve learned that there are bad drunks and there are good drunks, I’ve never been able to manage a drunk efficiently and entirely successfully. (Good drunk or bad drunk, sometimes management is required either way)
So as a means of self-analysis I’ve listed a few of my (failed) drunk management strategies…
Strategy 1: Placate Placate Placate
Say anything, say everything, just make sure you never say ‘No’.
“I want to get a puppy. I will quit my job and live at home with the puppy.”
So instead of saying:
“You can’t afford to stay at home and a puppy is like a baby so you can’t just leave it at home alone while you go to work.”
You must say:
“Yes yes get a puppy, lets name it Chintu. We will both quit our jobs, I will also get a kitty, we can call her Posse.”
Sometimes this strategy fails me. I don’t know why exactly, but I suspect the drunk (like an animal sensing fear) knows deep down that my placating isn’t sincere enough or that my underlying anxiety remains (I have anxiety around drunk people, I feel they are too unbalanced and unpredictable and this makes me nervous). This can put the drunk into a rage. Knowing they are being pacified winds them up like nobody’s business.
“Don’t humor me! Don’t lie to me! You are lying to me. I can tell! Yes you are!”
And once paranoia sets it, it’s going to get rough. Fasten seat belts.
So my tip would be to approach this step like a Method Actor – Get inside the role. Be the role.
You are the drunk! You will get a puppy! You will never work again! Yay! It’s all possible!!
Strategy 2: Retaliate
Sometimes I get frustrated when Strategy 1. doesn’t work quickly enough. Instead of patiently waiting it out I get angry. Why is my evening ruined? Why am I the designated baby-sitter! What the fuck!
If the drunk is being especially belligerent I start to lose my temper – I try arguing or scolding them into sobering up.
Oh. My. God.
This has never worked. This strategy has been nothing short of total and utter disaster. Tears, crying, shouting, fighting, roaming around streets, the works.
Take it from me, never ever do this. Bad, bad strategy.
Strategy 3: Emotional Avoidance
Some drunks become very introspective once the high has peaked. Emotional. This is when it all starts going downhill. Do they have any friends? Their life is going nowhere, why is it like this? What is our relationship? Who are you? Why are you here? Etc. Etc.
I really dread, more than anything else, having an emotional conversation with a drunk person. You transmogrify into a washing machine – Things just go round and round. In the end, no one wins and everyone cries.
So this strategy was to try to avoid all confrontation. Just refuse to talk. Politely and calmly say,
“Look I don’t want to discuss this now. Let’s talk about it tomorrow morning. Please respect my feelings. I cannot discuss this now.”
This sounds reasonable no? Perfectly sensible?
Determined to stick to my guns on this issue and not get dragged into an emotional mire I kept repeating the above, but all it did was upset the poor drunk. Why wouldn’t I talk to them? Why was I being so mean? They just wanted to talk. Why was I ignoring them?
Then I felt like a horrible bitch. I felt horribly guilty and then horribly annoyed with myself.
Followed by guilt again. A guilt sandwich. Nice juicy guilt. Mmmm. So Catholic.
Then I partly caved, gave in and tried talking. I soon regretted it and tried to back a hasty retreat into silence.
Oi, it was a mess. Not a successful strategy.
Strategy 4: Self-Awareness
“Self-awareness is defined as the awareness that one exists as an individual being. Without self-awareness the self perceives and accepts the thoughts that are occurring to be who the self is. Self-awareness gives one the option or choice to choose thoughts being thought rather than simply thinking the thoughts that are stimulated from the accumulative events leading up to the circumstances of the moment.”
– Wikipedia. That great source of misinformation
Drinking is an exercise of self-awareness (unlike periods). I’m a pretty good drunk, I know when to stop and if I’m drunk I know I must keep my mouth shut and just go home.
Sometimes I try putting this theory into practice with other people. If the drunk is behaving irrationally or badly I will gently point out that there has been some drinking, perhaps their judgement has become clouded? Shall we discuss it tomorrow? Can they not see that?
No. They really can’t.
I had high hopes for this strategy but I forgot about the power of denial. The drunk will flatly refuse to admit it even if they reek of spirits, are slurring every second word and wobble about like a sailor on a rough sea – They’ve had a bit to drink, but they are definitely not drunk. They are not drunk. They are NOT drunk, OK???!!!! They are TOTALLY SOBER!!! FUCK YOU I AM TOTALLY SOBER!
My gently gently awakening of self-awareness strategy starts to crumble. I start interrogating. I do both roles of good cop and bad cop.
“It’s OK, I don’t care how much you’ve drunk. I just want to know that’s all. Just be honest with me. It doesn’t really matter either way.”
“How many have you had to drink?? Just answer me. No, it wasn’t two. Don’t lie to me! Yes you are I know it wasn’t two! Don’t lie to me! How many??”
“Can you walk in a straight line?? I bet you can’t! Show me then?!”
Once you get sucked into this role play there is no backing out. They will insist they are not drunk, you will not believe them. They will feel annoyed that you are dismissing their feelings, you will be annoyed that they are lying.
Also it’s not very nice to ask drunks to walk in a straight line. I feel bad I said that.
Strategy 5: Rational
Try acting like nothing is wrong. No one is drunk, everyone is sober, we are having a normal, rational conversation.
This doesn’t work. Of course it doesn’t work. I don’t know why I sometimes think it might.
- The drunk thinks they are sober and rational regardless. See Strategy 4.
- You cannot be rational with a drunk. You must placate. See puppy example in Strategy 1.
As A4 told me wisely..
“Don’t you know that when people come home drunk you do not offer them reason?”
I know it too, I feel like I lose my mind sometimes. I should just nod and say yes and shut my mouth. Lesson learned.
Strategy 6: Actual Avoidance
Unlike Strategy 3: Emotional Avoidance, this strategy physically requires you to remove yourself, thus also dramatically reducing the chances of any sort of ‘scene’ occurring.
Lock yourself in the Bathroom. Take a long shower.
Wait for drunk to calm down/fall asleep. Then go to bed.
All will be well in the morning.
It is a tad cowardly yes…
Strategy 7: Join the Enemy. Get Drunk.
You remember that helpful tip in Strategy 1. about Method Acting? Getting into the role, understanding the role?
This strategy is far easier if you can’t act. We can’t all be Christian Bale.
Get so badly hammered you can’t even stand. This has never failed me yet. I look so useless and faltoo when I’m drunk that it forces the other person to sober up and take care of me.
The tragedy is that I hate being drunk. Merry yes, drunk no.
I would say Strategy 1: Placate Placate Placate, in more capable hands than mine, is the keeper.
If you enjoy extensive cirrhosis of the liver then Strategy 7: Join the Enemy is the one for you.
Strategy 6: Actual Avoidance, is for those who might not.
Well that’s all folks, those are my 7 (failed) strategies. Hopefully they will help you avoid similar pitfalls should you come across them in the future.
I in turn, shall re-read this post and try to improve my drunk management techniques and be more sensitive to inebriated people.