Binge & Purge – Evolution of Drinking

Introduction: A chemist waffles pointlessly about biological issues with no pictures:

As I get more drawn into the beer blogging community it begins to confirm what I always suspected.

I don’t actually drink that much.

I can’t actually drink that much in one go anyway.

Being of short stature and even smaller bladder, my internals workings have seen fit to ‘break the seal’ at around 2 pints worth and then never really consume more than 6 of a night.

My 12 Beers of Christmas (day) seemed to strike a chord. Legend was the praise I was feted with in some quarters.

Now I’m fully aware that the praise was not that I drank 12 bottles in one day as opposed to one bottle per day around the Xmas period, but I was late to the #12beersofXmas party and thought about being a little different, which is what I hope the praise was for.

Looking at the amount I drank it totalled about 4810ml (I say about, that is the exact amount) which, if we consider 568ml per pint this gives us 8.4 pints.

A lot for me – but consider that I started at about 11am and opened the last one at roughly 11.50pm, it is far less than a pint an hour and featured a hell of a lot of food.

For my sins, even though I can’t drink very much, I sure as hell can pack away food – I don’t like waste – if you are out for a meal with me, most plates will be empty by the end of the night, it’s a trait I can put down both to my dad’s own physical ability, my mum’s “there are people starving all over the world” guilt trip and a few Jewish heritage clichés about always needing something to eat.

I remember when I first started drinking. 2 cans were enough. OK that was generally super strong ciders (or we can romanticise about long summer evenings on empty bowling greens with bottles of Merry Down, Thunderbirds, Mad Dog 20/20 or other such fortified wines before the advent of alcopops), but 2 cans was enough – I was barely a teenager.

My only previous flirtation with booze was a small dram of Blue Curaçao “its royal blue & tastes of oranges” was how it was sold to me at the age of about 5; in a time when adults were allowed to raise their kids in their own homes as they saw fit and not be made to feel guilty about harmless (and legal) little dalliances like this.

But it is a rite of passage to drink as much as possible. It is a masculine trait to be the best at something, to be the leader amongst your particular group of peers. It is not a peer pressure. No, I state now that my personal belief is that wanting to drink the most out of anyone is an evolutionary pressure.

The adventures of drinking too much are always followed by the inevitable – hangover and/or vomiting.

I don’t get hangovers.

But in another step that I have grown more appreciative with age, my body will purge itself when it is “full”.

Of course, drinking a lot, knowing your limit and knowing when you are going to puke is again all part of our evolution into being responsible drinkers.

These days, there are two reasons why I’m sick; because I want to be or because I’ve had really cheap vodka.

Note: Along with being a dustbin for all left over foods (except cooked sprouts) my body will not tolerate cheap vodka – so if you suspect your club/pub is merely topping up their Smirnoff or Russian Standard bottles with something cheap and nasty, the feel free to hire me out. It takes approximately 1-2 doubles and 1-2 hours to get a result “out of me”.

Why would anyone want to throw up?

It’s another evolutionary facet. I think most of us fear puking, the smell of someone else’s is enough to start a chain reaction (we’ve all heard stories of contagious vomiting on a particularly choppy ferry crossing, haven’t we?), the fear born from primary school when the caretaker could never get the saw-dust on to a pile of multi-coloured yawn quick enough and even the smell of disinfectant would send worry through your soul that you might be then next victim of a “24-hour bug”.

Thing is, once I’m sick, I’m done. I marvel at those who can ‘tactically chunder’ or just up-chuck and continue.

But there was a phase of about 18 months in my post-graduate days (and this is a scientist speaking in the most unscientific terms) which saw me never catch the “common cold”, which first started when a pub I used to frequent did lock-ins on Fridays and Saturdays.

I suspect they didn’t clean their pipes, because in those days I never explicitly drank enough to be sick, only I was – and it was the bile-ridden, dry heaving kind.

This lasted for about 6 months until I spent another six months learning that neither whiskies nor the aforementioned cheap vodkas should ever be my spirits of choice if I ever wanted the contents of my stomach to stay where it was. Curiously during this phase my barfing also evolved from what was always one overly long and painful session to 2 equally long painful sessions, but always about 3 hours apart, so I’d had enough time to think it was all out of me and drift nicely off to sleep only to then be rudely awakened.

The final 6 months of this totally trivial experiment were spent binge drinking heavily on the weekends.

Then I caught a cold and actually grew up.

But it is also something we all grow out of eventually. If you still wish to pint score the morning after when over the age of 23 you are a bit of twat.

It seems that society, or rather younger generations, have themselves evolved not from who can drink the most; but who can drink the strangest, the fastest, the longest, the most continuous days, etc – all are evolutionary factors about proving ones dominion over others.

Granted the hysterical nanny nature of the state and the side-show-freak need of our media now grinds the organ as women “behave like men” – but I say lets hear it for equality – at least the police aren’t breathalysing drinkers in clubs.

Oh…shit…brave new world isn’t it?

The “craft” (I really hate that word) ale explosion has now lead to an equally competitive, if rather more civilised use of beer in that those of us, now more mature, home-owning, family raising, financially independent enough to be able to afford it, can go out and try 330ml bottles of beer from prices starting at £10…or mid range like this…

…but we are sensible drinkers now.

Our responsibilities mean we have to drink responsibly. We reserve the right to cut loose and find that our own puke removes lime scale for our sink plug-holes better than Cillit Bang ever could once in a while, but we’ve evolve from our binge drinking pasts.

Now we can sit at home still binge drink because government guidelines are always there to remind us what ‘safe’ levels are, what ‘excess’ is and know our bodies better than we do ourselves.

So lets end this be stating the obvious:

Under-age drinking is nothing new.
Binge drinking is nothing new.
Vomiting in the streets is nothing new.
Drunken violence/crimes are nothing new.
Public urination is nothing new.
Semi-naked drunk women (and men) in public is nothing new.

The sad thing is, a lot of people worry that when you forego your own responsibilities to yourself the state is always there to nudge you in the right direction. And when nudging isn’t enough – well, there is a law to ban this, a law to ban that and plans to curb this, raise the levy on that.

The vast majority of people enjoy and responsibly drink or five and drink responsibly, because we have been allowed to learn how to do so.

I don’t quite know how to end this piece on a more upbeat note.

I wasn’t drinking when I wrote this – I rarely drink during the week (only on days with a T in them – Tuesday, Thursday, Today & Tomorrow).

Wackity Schmackity Doo.

Drink Happy.

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3 thoughts on “Binge & Purge – Evolution of Drinking

  1. I think I know the pub of which you speak, and if it is the one then I would believe anything against them as I remember once sobering up in there drinking their vodkas.

    I remember some sage advice when going on a big “session” to drink a shot of Blue Curaçao after every couple of pints. When asked if this would stop you being sick the sage offered: No, but it’ll make it a lovely colour.

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