30 Things This Blog is About (#19: Alcohol)

My relationship with alcohol is strange. Growing up, I spent a lot of time visiting my family, many of whom live in the Caribbean. I got to try a great number of various tropical fruits, many of which had been juiced. I grew up on a variety of interesting, flavorful juices, and as I got older that turned into interesting flavored sodas, flavored waters, and other things. In college, I was so famous for my love for “novelty drinks” that people who flew home for breaks would often come back with some exotic beverage for me to try.

Despite, or possibly because of this, I didn’t take to alcohol until well after most people I knew. I had an extreme sweet tooth, and most alcohol was strong and bitter; I didn’t appreciate the taste. The taste of alcohol in a drink was generally enough to ruin it for me, so when my 21st birthday rolled around and my college friends took me out for the traditional pub crawl, I was somewhat worried. I hadn’t really had much in the way of drinks that I’d actually liked.

My concern was dispelled very quickly. A particularly perceptive friend of mine knew about my tastes and knew that a lot of standard drinks wouldn’t go down well, so he carefully maneuvered the party to a place that made particularly good cocktails. The first drink set down in front of me was a Long Island Iced Tea, which I’d never had before, tried, and immediately loved.

I had something like 18 friends with me over the course of the pub crawl, each wanting to buy me a drink, and my first drink was a Long Island. Despite this, I was entirely lucid throughout the rest of the night, despite further drinks numbering in the double digits. Possibly the rest of the evening may become clear at this point, which brings me to my weird relationship with alcohol.

Having had… a frankly ridiculous amount of liquor over the course of a few hours, I was handed several glasses of water in an attempt to reduce the inevitable hangover and eventually went to bed. I slept through the night and woke up… still extremely drunk. What I hadn’t really paid attention to was the fact that my college eating habits had slowed my metabolism down to a crawl. I slept through the night and was thirsty, but still heavily intoxicated the next morning (and, truth be told, through most of the rest of the day). What most of the party hadn’t realized is that what looked like me holding my liquor legendarily well was simply my body processing it incredibly slowly. I took longer to get drunk, and the alcohol took longer to leave my system.

For a long time, this state of affairs continued. I have, to date, never had a hangover, though I’ve woken up a few times still drunk. Kodra will probably tell a story of a time I came back from a party at PAX East and, while he watched, became progressively drunker over the course of several hours despite not actually drinking anything.

As I’ve gotten older (and fixed my metabolism), this alcohol tolerance hasn’t stayed, surprise surprise. I’m very good at knowing my limit, although that limit tends to be fairly high. I’m often responsible for driving myself or others home, though, which means I frequently have no more than a single drink when I’m out. As a result of this, I’ve gone back to my appreciation for novelty drinks. I love a good, interesting, well-thought-out drinks menu, because in much the same way I love food, I love the experience of a well-crafted drink.

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