DANNY: A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to witness an engagement party for an 88-year-old woman and man. Both widowers, the couple sat amongst friends and family beaming and holding hands like teenagers, while the woman’s children, in their 50s and 60s, gave emotional speeches. It was so sweet that I had to keep stuffing ham biscuits down my throat to stop myself from openly weeping.
But amidst the joy of the toasts and the gift-giving, an evil little voice piped up inside my head: “For the love of God, Danny, she’s 88 and can find a man! You’re 27 and alone. Where’s your man? Where’s your corsage? I don’t see guys lined up for one date, let alone a lifetime with your cracker ass!” Sad, but true. I hate that voice.
I’m sure you’ll find this hard to believe, given my obvious charm and undeniable wit (not to mention my overpowering modesty), but I really have a hard time finding guys to date. Friends and family have their varied opinions, not a one of which makes me feel any better. My mother says I’m too mean, while I prefer to think of myself as a strong-willed woman with zero tolerance for bullshit. Friends say I work too much, and when I do hit the town, I get so disgusted with the meat markets that I stand there all night with bitchface, daring men to approach me. My favorite explanation is that I intimidate guys, to which I respond, “Good to know they’re wimps up front.”
Really, the whole thing’s a mystery to me. Luckily, Ben’s got it figured outI need to drink more.
I’ve never been much of a drinker. I’m not afraid of an adult beverage or two every now and then, but I can honestly say that I’ve had the same can of beer in my refrigerator since last Fourth of July. I have two reasons why I don’t indulge: First, I am inhibition-less. Most people who are out there trolling for dates drink to dull the insecurities and fears everyone faces, but I don’t need that. I’m just as forward, as social, as talkative, and as fearless with or without alcohol. Second, I don’t like to be out of control of myself. I don’t want to be the girl yakking in the bathroom, or the idiot pulled over on the side of the road doing stupid human tricks for Johnny Law with my nose and forefinger.
Furthermore, I don’t want to think that a guy has to have a few under his belt to talk to me. The absolute worst are guys who say, “I can’t dance without being drunk,” which is always nice because there’s nothing better than dancing with a drunk guy. He might as well say, “I can’t dance, but after a few beers I’ll be more than happy to flail around like a jackass.”
Everyone says, “You’re never going to meet anyone in a bar. Look to meet guys at Kroger, or Davis-Kidd, or church.” Not terribly religious myself, I particularly love that last one. It’s like saying, “Don’t think of it as a church, think of it as a singles club with stained-glass windows.” And that’s the crux of the whole thingthe harder I work at dating, the more desperate I feel. I don’t want to use tricks or put myself in contrived situations to increase my odds of finding a boyfriend.
Most of all, though, besides making my hair look pretty and keeping the lipstick off my teeth, I don’t want to alter myself just so I can put up with the anxieties of singles-searching. Even if you’re uninhibited, trying to get up the nerve to talk to someone you find attractive sucks, but it doesn’t require getting drunk. Call me picky or pious, or don’t call me at alllike so many of you Nashville boys I’ve given my number tobut I’m not looking for a guy who finds his balls at the bottom of a bottle of beer.
BEN: I can say without a doubt that if it weren’t for sweet, sweet alcohol, I might not be the man I am today. If it hadn’t been for indulging in good-to-the-last-drop keg beer, I would never have thought to beg my now long standing love to make out with me, despite her probably not even knowing my name. If it hadn’t been for state treasure Jack Daniel’s, I would never have had the gumption to fend off a friend’s would-be attacker with a wooden coat hanger. And if it weren’t for the foot-stomped juice of fermented grapes, I would never have been able to charm the ladies with lines like, “Sweetheart, you’re hot enough to thaw a frozen chicken.”
The fact is, everything that transpires between men and women requires a lubricant at some point or another. I don’t care what Danny says, no one is completely inhibition-less. There is always a secret reservoir of thoughts and emotions that might never have dared reach your lips without the help of libation. It’s incredibly difficult to tell a total stranger the necessary information to make her find you interesting or attractive. There’s no shame in needing an altered state of mind to confess to an unknown and beautiful girl that while you have had a steady job for several years, you once served time for loitering excessively.
What’s more, for all sober people’s griping that drunk people are annoying, what they don’t seem to understand is that sober people are boring. They sit there like sticks in the mud discussing inanities like their workout program. Sometimes it takes a little sauce to help exhibit some character and not come across as slightly duller than milquetoast.
Our fearless editor/publisher Bruce Dobie recently declared that he’d hopped on the wagonnot because he’s even remotely a lush, but just because he wanted to see what “clean living” was like. After a month of his intolerable, clear-eyed good-naturedness and his boasting about the merits of an alcohol-free lifestyle, the news department started talking about staging an intervention to get him back on the bottle.
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t use alcohol as some sort of crutch, although that is something you can get away with in your younger college days. But when you’re in your late 20s or 30s, and you’re slobbering drunk in a bar, no one is going to want to talk to you or pick you up, at least not for more than the evening. As with all things in life, take it in moderation. A feeling of warm, fuzzy numbness is liberating. Loss of bodily functions and focused vision is counterproductive.
There is no question that booze has its plusses and minuses. For every liquor-induced make-out session I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing, there’s an embarrassing moment I will never live down. Once, in a state of drunken paralysis, I dragged myself down a hall to the bedroom by grabbing fistfuls of carpet and pulling myself along. In the process of getting there, my pants came down, and unbeknownst to me, my friends took pictures of my ass so that the event may live on in posterity.
But do I have any regrets? Nah. In the long run, I’ve made many a friend and girlfriend that a social malcontent and misanthrope like myself might not have otherwise had. So knock ’em back and enjoy yourself as I leave you with a quote from one of Danny’s all-time favorite programs, The Simpsons: “Here’s to alcohol, the cause ofand solution toall life’s problems.” Amen.
E-mail questions &comments to Ben & Danny at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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