When you’re in college, you drink. It’s kind of a rule of life, a rite of passage. And since it is likely the first time you’re drinking while wholly unsupervised, with no risk of getting busted by your parents, you’ll probably drink to excess. One night, you’ll take that excess beyond the furthest reaches of your consciousness and wake up the following morning with only vague memories of the night before.
Then you start to get older. You graduate college. You get your first job, or maybe decide to go to grad school. But in all likelihood, your drinking habits will remain unchanged throughout your early years of post-grad life. Blacking out on a Thursday night and slogging through a Friday morning sales call sucks, but you learn, knock down some Gatorade, and bounce back. While your boss is probably less than thrilled with you, you’re living your early 20s to the fullest. Eventually, however, you hit the quarter-century mark. 25 years old. And then there’s no getting around the fact that you’re an adult.
You’re at that age when more and more of your friends start discussing marriage, kids, and a mortgage. A week-long bender in Cabo, or a full day at the racetrack getting day drunk, doesn’t seem as exciting as it did when you were 22. I mean, you’ll still go because it’s going to be fun, but you’re now acutely aware of the monster waiting around the corner.
The hangover. Once you hit 25, your body begins to break down. Binge drinking all weekend is no longer something that can be shrugged off with a morning in bed chugging water. When you hit 25, you simply cannot drink so much that you black out all the time. This is not an admonishment; this is a PSA. Such excessive drinking will set your body and schedule back for days, something you cannot afford as a goddamn adult. Let these rules guide those of you other older, weary travelers, for those rare occasions you decide to get–as the youths say–turnt.
You may never blackout when you’re going to be driving.
I’m willing to cut some flexibility when it comes to the other rules on this list, but on this, there is no wiggle room. You can NEVER drive if you’ve been drinking to excess. You shouldn’t drive even if you’ve been drinking to comfort, and this rule does apply to our younger readers as well, but for now, I’m going to focus on you older folks. You’re a goddamn adult, which means you should know your limits when it comes to alcohol. More importantly, it means that you should be able to keep yourself in check when drinking to make sure you don’t exceed those limits.
If you’re planning on going hard tonight, you will not drive. If you’re going somewhere that you think could result in you going hard, you will not drive there. Have a friend DD, take an Uber, take a Lyft, take the bus, hell, take a cab if you have to. Driving while intoxicated is one of the stupidest decisions you can make.
Now, if you had not planned on going hard, and drove to a party or bar, but the devil on your shoulder works his magic to get you drunk, you still have no excuse. I don’t care if you have to leave your car in a bad area of town, walk 30 miles in the freezing snow, you are not driving home. Ask the bartender for help. Hell, even ask a nearby cop for help. Is there the risk you might have to spend the night in the drunk tank? Sure. But I guarantee you that cop will go easy on you considering you prevented him from possibly having to scrape your car off the side of the road.
So in conclusion, do not drive when you’re going for a possible blackout night. The only possible reason I could accept is— TRICK QUESTION THERE IS NO EXCUSE DO NOT FUCKING DO IT.
You may blackout once every three months.
I already hear you crying out in protest, but this isn’t me talking, it’s science. After 25, the frequency of your blackouts will begin to echo off of each other, intensifying in nature. Blacking out in such close proximity so frequently will cause your entire existence to become one long, drunken haze. You have to space out your weekends of going hard, lest you live a life where you cannot risk stopping drinking for fear that the cumulative hangover might literally kill you.
The good news here is, unlike your PTO, these blackout days do roll over. So if you don’t have an occasion to get lit in Q1, you can save it for your buddy’s Vegas bachelor party and still have one in the chamber for an impromptu day at a NASCAR race a few weeks later. Also, this does not mean you can’t drink without blacking out every weekend, I’m not a complete monster. But, generally, give yourself enough lag time between your bouts of excess drinking, and allow your battered liver to recover just enough that it’s prepared to handle your next college reunion weekend.
Blacking Out on the Following Holidays Does Not Count
The previous rule notwithstanding, there are four holidays where you are always allowed, even encouraged, to drink to the point of blacking out. They are:
– St. Patrick’s Day
– 4th of July
– New Years Eve
Some might complain about the inclusion of St. Patrick’s Day and NYE, and the exclusion of classics like Cinco de Mayo, Christmas, Thanksgiving Eve, or Arbor Day. But the four listed above are the stereotypical drinking days. As much as you might protest, there will inevitably be parties and gatherings on these days, with ample opportunities to drank. So, these are given as free spaces, not to count to your quarterly allowance. As for Christmas, well it runs afoul of our next rule.
You may never blackout in front of your boss.
Christmas doesn’t make the list because I cannot, in good conscience, put out a green light to drink your best drinking life at the office Christmas party. It’s too risky to get hammered and uncage the beast inside of you around anyone with the power to fire you. A good rule of thumb for office parties is to always stay within one drink of your boss, either one fewer or one more than him. He’s your pace car for the evening, stay vigilant.
This rule also applies to business trips, conferences, client outings, or anything where “corporate” will be in attendance. I’d also highly recommend that you avoid blackouts within one week of any major speaking engagement, presentation, or pitch. If it was important enough to need a week or more prep time, you should not risk blowing that work because your buddy Johnny is in town. Keep it under 60 with Johnny, and go hard next weekend.
You may not blackout at home or alone.
Drinking alone is not only a classic sign of alcoholism, it’s pretty sad. What’s even sadder, though, is squandering one of those few allotted blackout nights by spending it inside alone. Blackout nights are meant for overcoming your social anxieties, random hookups, or forgetting your troubles. Not wallowing while watching Netflix alone.
You may not blackout within 24 hours of major travel.
Read any of the Worst Weekend tales. 75% of these conclude with “I’m nursing a wicked hangover with a six-hour flight in front of me.” As someone who hates traveling, this would be the seventh circle of hell, but for everyone else, this is still just a rough proposition. Travelling, by air, train, or car, while hungover is difficult at any stage of life, but after 25 it’s borderline impossible. Curing a hangover at this age requires minimal movement, constant care, and isolation. Travelling provides none of these. Make sure you leave yourself a full twelve-hour window to recover before any flight or car ride longer than three hours.
Your blackout night is the only night it is acceptable to do shots.
Shots are an integral part of your youthful drinking repertoire, as they’re the cheapest, fastest, and easiest way to get your BAC up. When you’re 21, you’ll tolerate blanching at the taste of tequila if it means you’ll get drunk. At 26, though, that price isn’t worth it. Instead, you’ll be able to afford alcohol that actually tastes good, and you’ll want to drink it in a way that isn’t pumping it past your tastebuds quicker than an Ovechkin slapper beating the goalie. Over 25, shots are generally a risky proposition. Except on your blackout night.
This night is your cheat day, where you can live your best drinking life. That’s not going to include nice wines or liquors, except perhaps at the beginning of the evening. This night is about being with friends, getting sloppy, and forgetting all your troubles. Shots are not only permitted on this night, they’re downright mandatory. After all, the only way my 29-year old ass could possibly tolerate downing a shot of vodka is if my body is already so numb that the taste won’t phase me.
You must prep your blackout.
As mentioned above, a blackout requires a fair amount of care to recover from at our advanced age. Since you’re an adult, and an adult is prepared, you will have your house equipped to nurse you back to health the morning after a blackout. This doesn’t mean you have to raid the CVS nearby like the zombie apocalypse has started before your Friday night out, but it does mean that your house is generally stocked with the necessities: water, some form of electrolyte-loaded beverage, whatever your particular hangover cure food is, aspirin, coffee, smelling salts, a priest to perform your last rites, whatever you need to recover.
It also means that you’re going to bring the essentials for your night out, including cash, a tracker for your phone and/or wallet, and (ahem) protection. The goal here is to mitigate the fallout tomorrow when you’re lying off the side of your bed praying for the sweet embrace of death to relieve this pounding headache. The knowledge that you that you can easily find that which you lost, didn’t make any massively life-altering mistakes the night before, and that you have the tools to make the road to recovery a smooth one is all we’re going for with these rules.
You’re an adult. Adults can blackout, but they also have their shit together enough that they’ll be able to make it into work on Monday with their lives still intact.