The Lush Chronicles: A Field Guide to Drunks

The Lush Chronicles: A Field Guide to Drunks

The happy drunk. The weepy drunk. The funny drunk. The angry drunk. These are all stereotypical reductions of human behavior under the influence of alcohol and none of them are particularly accurate. The truth is that we all feel the same range of emotions whether we're drunk or not. Some of us may be predisposed to one kind of behavior or another when drinking but there's no reason why an angry drunk can't have moments of kindness or a happy drunk can't suddenly have a turn for the melancholy. It's not the emotions we feel when drinking that are important, it's the way we get to them. Everyone has a behavioral pattern throughout the stages of ethanol metabolization. Being able to identify how those around you predictably change over the course of a night of drinking is a better use of energy than just noting how they feel at any given moment.

Consider, if you will, the Sudden Spike Drunk. This is an individual who can have several drinks in a relatively short period of time without any noticeable change in behavior. He or she is calm, coherent and rational despite being intoxicated, though that can't last forever. At a certain point, the alcohol seems to hit him or her all at once, resulting in what looks like a person with a crazy/not crazy switch that gets flipped somewhere around the fourth or fifth drink. This means that the tone of the night will determine how the Sudden Spiker will manifest at that crucial moment. If he or she has been holding steady through awkwardness or some other negativity, then things have a good chance of turning ugly as soon as the alcohol kicks in. Being able to identify your friend as a Spiker can help you steer the night in a positive direction before the otherwise inevitable meltdown occurs.

The inverse of the Sudden Spiker is the Inexplicably Immediate Drunk. This is a person who seems to get soused after just one drink, or maybe just a couple sips. Barring an unusually low alcohol tolerance, this means that the drinker actively wants to act drunk. It's the placebo effect at work and it's incredibly dangerous. A person who wants to be drunk or wants to be perceived as drunk is a person who wants an excuse for uncharacteristic behavior. Maybe he or she has a confession to make or a bone to pick. Maybe he or she has some repressed feelings to work through or some fears to face. Regardless of the motivation, the Immediate is a drunk on a mission. Be prepared to be one of his or her targets, accomplices or caretakers, or else steer clear.

One of the most fascinating drunks is the Stacking Doll Drunk. The Stacker is someone who uses intoxication as a means to gradually strip away layers of personality, going through stages of self throughout the night until he or she reaches some kind of raw, confessional state. This may manifest as a progressive increase in honesty or downright bluntness, or maybe being more physically intimate as time goes on. This can involve removing clothes, hugging, high-fiving, back-patting or, in the later stages, uninvited kissing. When around a Stacker, be aware that this person is likely to embarrass him or her self, say things that likely should have been left unsaid and render themselves incredibly vulnerable. These people are fragile, so handle them with care.

Though there are many other types of drunks, the last subject for today is the Doesn't Seem Drunk. This is a person whose behavior, disposition and manner of speaking don't change regardless of the amount of alcohol he or she consumes. This is very dangerous both for the drunk and those around him or her. The Doesn't Seem is the type to drive under the influence, casually suggest bad ideas to more suggestible drunks and be oblivious to his or her own limits. Doesn't Seems are likely borderline alcoholics, if not full-blown addicts. If you're friends with a Doesn't Seem, you have a responsibility to keep tabs on his or her consumption because the drunk sure won't.