In my job, I find it sometimes necessary or worthwhile to go out on the town and socialize after work. (I don’t always resist.) When it’s clear that someone else will be picking up the tab, whether a vendor purchasing some good will or a partner of the firm feting an employee, the intention is usually to get pretty drunk. I think of it as a sort of culturally approved fucked-upedness. So a night a couple weeks ago was one of those nights for me. Although I had not planned to go as far as I did, once the ball got rolling, inhibitions and restraints fell away. I didn’t do anything to be embarrassed about; there were no crimes committed, insults levied, or driving home. However, I felt oddly about it. Simply put, it’s decadent to rip through a bunch of drinks and in the process someone else’s dollars. Some call it blowing off steam or celebrating life. I’m not so sure.
Naturally, the whole experience caused me to reflect upon it for a while afterward. As vices and misbehavior go, this was pretty modest. Yet I know better than to indulge too often. After all, intoxication is really a drug state using legal drugs. I paid for it for most of the next day, which is a reminder I apparently need three or four times per year why I don’t drink liberally more often. What really intrigues me, though, is how easily or persistently others push to get someone drunk. Bartenders definitely have an interest in mounting the bill up higher and higher. But others who might reasonably wish to put a cap on things at some point, either in terms of number of drinks or the bar tab, tend to go beyond reasonable levels, especially when it’s on an expense account. The participants sometimes try to see just how much “damage” can be done. The imperative is rather strange, and I haven’t yet decided whether it’s truly fun or merely fodder for stories to be told later.