July 15, 2007

"It's not the romantic remembrance people have of drinking during their college days."

"It's a much more graphic, gritty, vulgar thing than they realize."


AJ Lynch said...

Maybe the cops could start a blog and share what they see.

I disagree that we all recall as some romantic & charnming time of our lives. I view youthful baccanalia as a right of passage and thankfully most of us survive. This story is very very tragic but these crimes are also visited on tee-totalers right?

Everything in moderation - too bad most of us don't adopt this until we reach middle age.

EnigmatiCore said...

I look back on my teen and college years now and simply cringe.

(Brief political interlude-- I believe the higher drinking age actually made matters worse, but did not cause the problems. I drank before the drinking age changed in ways that were... bad. The change in age did not stem the tide. In fact, it kept everything cool and rebellious rather than stupid.)

My nephew, just last night, was busted on drug charges (very, very bad ones). Dealing. We, as a family, have been struggling with trying to come up with a 'course correction' for him for years, since it was clear he was abusing alcohol (and other substances) the way me and my brothers (who are older than me) had. For all of us, it was a matter of growing up-- some of us did it better than others, but we all had our problems with it. Unfortunately, my nephew seems to have trumped all of us on the problems side.

I am not writing this to you, Ann. I am writing this to the audience. Hopefully, there are some younguns here, who are like I was. Drinking until you pass out. Looking for the score. Not so much feeling invincible, but never even contemplating vulnerability, and never feeling like 'real life' had already started, even though by being alive it meant that everything was 'real life'.

Look in the mirror. You may feel this is what you want now, but years from now *even if you do not self-destruct*, it will not be, I assure you. And if you do self-destruct, what a waste.

Do you ever want your life to feel like a waste?

Ugh. Bad night. Sorry for the divergence for those who don't give a crap. But if you are younger and living large, think about it. Please.

Mary Christine said...

There will always be a certain percentage of people who are absolutely unable to control the amount they drink, and it is highly unlikely they will ever have romantic remembrances of those drunken days. Then there are those who drank a bit, had some fun and remember it fondly.

EnigmatiCore said...


Isn't it a question of odds? Those who are foolish may end up having fond memories. Or they may end up with their lives in tatters.

The odds are probably that you will end up with fond memories. But the odds are lower than if you did not act foolishly-- and one can have fond memories without the foolishness.

Is it worth the risk? In hindsight, it seems so clear the answer is no. I wish I could have convinced my nephew of this. But when people talk of the good ol' days of wine and women, why would those who don't think of the future and what might go wrong listen?

AJ Lynch said...

Sorry to hear about your nephew. Don't give up on him. He may yet see the light and I doubtr he will without your and your family's help.

Good luck.

EnigmatiCore said...

AJ, thanks for the kind words. One never gives up on family, does one? It literally hits too close to home, eh?

Synova said...

Tragedy happens to tee totalers too, but not as often. Granted, I've known people who started out with no common sense while others had to drink to lose what they had.

I never hung out much with the party crowd but I still saw it. "Hey, did you see who I was with last night? I know I had sex and I woke up with this necklace."

Or much worse, the girl who went to the boarding high school I worked at because she passed out at a party and was raped, by who knows how many of the boys in her small town. She couldn't bear to face her senior year of high school with people who knew, or who might have even done it.

The girl in the article who came to her senses... she might not get murdered after binge drinking, but that's not the only way to die these days. For all she knows one of the sexual partners she has no memory of already gave her AIDS.

Joe said...

I'm a life long teetotaler. I went to my first party my senior year of High School (not just out of choice; I was never invited--I was an outsider.) It was the most ludicrous, pointless thing I'd ever seen. I lost respect for more people that night than ever before or since in my life.

(I also discovered that a great way to get over a teenager crush is to see the object of your affections puking her guts out on a front lawn.)

I'm glad I have no predisposition to drink (few people in my family and ancestry do) and didn't take it up in spite of that.

halojones-fan said...

Well gosh, I thought that it was a normal and accepted thing for college kids to get totally wasted every night.

I mean, that's what people keep telling me. After all, they're "adults" now, they're "responsible", they're "smarter than you seem to believe". I hear this a lot.

mythusmage said...

Tom Lehrer once said...

Hearts full of youth
Hearts full of truth
Six parts gin
To one part vermouth

LutherM said...

In addition to killing people in driving accidents, alcohol can become addictive, and recovering from Alcoholism is not easy - especially since too many deny that they have that disease.
Before treatment, too many Alcoholics only remember the good times. While treating the disease, they recall the bad experiences.
I remember the song @ U. Va.,
"From Rugby Road to Vinegar Hill,
we're going to get drunk tonight ..." - and the Spring Party Weekend, "Easters" which was so popular that the school administration finally forbade it.
I remember several of us being outside on a patio near Farmington, drinking Martinis with our girlfriends, listening to an LP record of Segovia playing Bach. I can remember after a full night of parties eating a breakfast prepared by a date at 5 AM, and starting to realize that she was not just pretty, but also bright, witty, and somebody I was VERY interested in being with.
(That sudden realization, which probably had something to do with the alcohol, reminds me that "malt does more than Milton can, to justify God's ways to man". But Segovia does sound marvelous playing Bach when I am stone cold sober; and it wasn't that long ago when, without alcohol, I realized that someone I liked was someone I wanted to be with.)
"Out of life's school of war: what does not destroy me, makes me stronger."

Skeptical said...

"Out of life's school of war: what does not destroy me, makes me stronger."

Yeah, that dude ended up with syphilis. Which killed him.

Pogo said...

Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

SteveR said...

Not a lot of romance in those days for me, literally or figuratively.

We were too poor to go out and drink in public, gee for the amount of money it took to get drunk in a bar, we could buy beer and have plenty left for some good smoke.

Drinking to excess in public for women is very risky behaviour, plain and simple. Fun? Not really. As my father in law says, ythe only thing you can do better drunk than sober, is make an ass out of yourself.

Anthony said...

I don't recall too many people at UW who "went out and got wasted every night". And if they did, they weren't around too long. Not terribly conducive to, you know, being able to stay in school.

This just smacks of sensationalism to me, and I wonder whether MADD is behind it. Rather like your typical NYT story where the reporter talks to a half dozen Manhattanites and decides that such-and-such a behavior is "a new trend".

Hector Owen said...

It's not the alcohol per se, it's the abuse. William Hogarth had something to say about this back in 1751. (Beer Street, Gin
. Footer verses transcribed. More explication.)

EnigmatiCore, above,
mentioned the change in drinking age. Prohibition was a miserable failure that led to children selling whiskey in
schoolyards. Prohibition for the young only leads to the same sort of abuse. The Law of Unintended Consequences will not
be denied: "You can't do just one thing." Elizabeth Dole was surely well-meaning when she used the threat of withholding highway funds to force the states to raise all drinking ages to 21, but
the unintended consequence is that young people who want to drink must do so in places that serve hard liquor to persons of all ages. When I was in college, one of the most popular young people's places in town had a licence for beer, wine, and cider only. I
rarely saw anyone over 30 in there. (I see from Googling around that the Marine Corps has decided that 18 is the right age,
overseas and in some cases, on base, in the U.S. I wonder how long this can last.)

The student interviewed in the article,
Piper Smith, is 21 and a senior. She says she started drinking between her freshman and sophomore years. This means she
has been drinking illegally for at least a couple of years. With a lower drinking age, she could have done it at the University
Rathskeller, without exposure to the temptation of hard liquor, without the danger of walking the city streets, without
making a criminal of herself by using a fake ID.

Hector Owen said...

I truly don't know how all those line breaks got in there! Sorry.

LarryK said...

I went to UW Grad School, 1988-93 and still live in Madison. I happened to go out for a few drinks with friends last Friday and, just for the hell of it, we decided to go to State Street. OK, it's just one observation, but was it more "graphic, gritty and vulgar" than my grad school days? On the contrary - the thing that struck me was how stylish and relatively upscale the State Street scene has become. It's more Absolut and Grey Goose than Miller Lite. And the girls were absolutely dressed to kill (although most of the guys look like they put on whatever they happened to find on the floor). Of course, there was a fair share of overserved customers, but the crowds I saw were generally better behaved than what I remember 15 years ago. If there's a problem, then, it doesn't appear to be the State Street revelers, but rather that some of our local criminals have figured out that you can find a high supply of easy marks at bar time. This a problem that has a relatively easy solution - better policing.

For what it's worth....

chickenlittle said...

I worked at a shop on the 500 block of State Street in the late 70's/early 80's. I can remember going to work early one cold Saturday morning, finding frozen street pizzas randomly splashed in technicolor along the sidewalk. It was easier to chip them away early before the sun warmed the sidewalks.

Does anyone else remember who Art was?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

The drinking age was 18 in my day. That meant that underage drinking was a high school event and the seniors were the suppliers. By the time college came around, the practice of puking on your shoes had waned and, while prevalent, was much less of a novelty. I kind of think that learning how to drink responsibly might be a good thing to learn at home, on the parents' watch, before tuition and time are thoroughly wasted.

Katie said...

Anthony, the reality is that it is absolutely possible to go out and get wasted every night and still do quite well in college.

Galvanized said...

Kudos to Miss Smith for sharing her experience and decision to get therapy. That took courage, and she should be commended for it.

Galvanized said...

And I think that Ruth Ann is right. My group's age was also 18...and I don't remember hearing much about drunken nights once college came around.

Hector Owen said...

David Bernstein has more on legal drinking ages and the legal consequences thereof at The Volokh Conspiracy. There is considerable discussion in comments.