Sparkling conversation

There are drinking games -- the standard quarter-toss into a centrally located libation destined to incite either nausea or ridicule, or the proverbial throw-it-back cordial for every time Cher references herself in the third person -- that effectively turn binge drinking into an isolated, excusable art form.

Then there's the professional drinking life -- a veritable lexicon of rules and regulations necessary to ensure the proper level of social lubrication. It skirts generalized repugnance, while never quite dipping into the nasty inhibitions true responsibility implies.

In short, to drink effectively, and regularly, you have to know what you're doing. And saying.

To that end -- and to all the drinks we've loved before -- we offer up a few simple guidelines to maintain decorum whilst increasing your blood-alcohol level. If you're permanently pickled, after all, you may have to live with yourself for a very long time. Hiccup.

Here are some topics suitable for explanation while searching for the worm in the wormless bottle.

Other People's Ugliness (or, OPU)

Nothing diverts criticism of your own fermenting shortcomings like deflective remarks about those in your nearest squintable vicinity. "Look what she's wearing!" works well for both the male and the female subject, depending on your bar of inquiry. Casual laments about how sorry you feel for them, for their obvious defects, for their parents, and for whomever they may share a bed with tonight, can do nothing but make you look better. Who knows? A smoky bar-haze scrutiny may be the only time that you get to say what you really think ... and forget about it tomorrow.

Music and film

Easily the fairest of subjects for superfluous, flowery scrutiny, these monoliths of the entertainment world can help to stifle your inevitable listlessness by providing touchstones for public communication. How much you hate Creed can take up a good three minutes. How much you love Radiohead, well, maybe two. Ultimately, easy targets, good and bad, are your best bet for retaining a train of thought that doesn't care if you retain it or not. "Swept Away" was a very, very bad movie. "The Pianist" made you cry (then really cry). People love that.


Everybody knows that our entire governmental system comprises a disconnected debate served over martini lunches, so you needn't feel guilty for approaching topical subject matter in the church of the poison wine. The vigor and the bombast inspired by brown liquors mixes especially well with chest-beating, foreign-policy right-winging, while the lighter, milder liquors can inspire (over)thoughtful debates on the wheres and whens of American civil rights. You know, this one time ... when I got fired ... by the "guvvverment" ... and so on.

Body hair

Always funny.

Not talking at all, but listening for once

Sometimes it's easier to talk than listen. This could be the one time that you appear sensitive, even if in reality you're merely untying your "S's" from your "T's" deep within the recesses of your toxic mouth.

And as an added safety measure, we've compiled some topics that are by all means unsuitable for potable portent.

Sexual history

Here's the part where you get a little bit too comfortable, start leaning in, thinking you're going for the kill (ahem), and all of a sudden you're spilling the guts of secrets better kept. A sniveling recount of past wrongs in the bedroom department, and the various rashlike accoutrements gathered in the process, and pretty soon you're in very uncomfortable territory, or worse, alone. Nothing says "unsexy" like knowing too much. Especially when you're drunk.

Talking to yourself

This is where you end up after traveling sexual exploits in public conversation. Everybody's heard it: The guy in the corner muttering about the sweet hereafter or the bitter end while his eyes whirl around the room and to the back of his head. For those prone to such bouts of clearly schizophrenic indulgence, it's best advised that you save it for the couch, or better, the little blue box next to your favorite downtown package store. Oh, wait. There are no downtown package stores.


Guess how much I make! No, go ahead, guess! Who cares. The best way to show your ass is to bring fiscal concerns into the liver-soaking ether, rattling through your credit cards like they're pictures of your beloved children. And if you were so very content with your credit rating, would you really be sharing it with strangers in a bar? Better choice: Buy me a drink.


Don't drink and drive. When you do, and you will, don't make us all feel bad. Or worse, brag about what you got away with. I can't remember how I got home! Isn't that hilarious? Cheers, then.

Not drinking

How many times does this one come up? Toward the end of night, when the last drips of "We gotta get out of this" are falling down your leg, you pull out the dreaded rehab chorus of "I'm never drinking again," with the implied, "Are you?" Settle your own bets, dear. Oh, and buy me a drink.

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