There's nothing like a bad case of hiccups to ruin an otherwise enjoyable evening of greasy food and excellent drink. I'm talking about hiccups that rip through your body like a seizure, giving you a near-fatal case of whiplash and leaving the taste of bile in the back of your throat. After trying to drink from a glass upside down (whatever that means), holding your breath for all of two seconds and getting scared ("Your girlfriend told me she's pregnant!"), the hiccups are still so strong that you want to lie down in front of a bus.
Before the hiccups, we had been having a very nice night -- except when the Vikings gave away the football on every other possession -- at Salty Rita's (200 Quebec Street), a new bar in redeveloped, yuppie-filled Lowry. The salsa was hot, the food denser than Betsy Hoffman ("I've heard it used as a term of endearment!"), and the drinks came in frosty mugs. That combination was enough to quickly reduce us to levels of immaturity not seen in this area since the Air Force left.
Still, we managed to discuss many pressing issues, relating most back to football.
200 Quebec Street
Sex: Clock management is key to avoid disappointing the other team. As JP suggests saying: "If you weren't so darned attractive, this would've taken longer."
Humor: Breaking wind is always a big yard play when you're hanging out with a bunch of guys.
Commitment: When you're in the fourth quarter and have driven everyone else out of the bar with your obnoxious loudness, you have to stay to recoup the bar's losses.
Religion: God really does influence football. On this night, he was the angry Jewish God of the Old Testament who smote the Vikings with the Philadelphia Eagles because that's where the Institute of Drinking Studies' Jewish representative is from. At one point, I heard JP mention his own bris as a ploy to stop the Viking turnovers -- or he may have just been trying to scare away the hiccups.
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Because once those hiccups hit, I was powerless. I couldn't drink, couldn't eat. Lacey, Employee of the Month that she is, offered the miracle cure: Lime with bitters. The second after I bit into that lime, the hiccups departed -- probably because at that point, I was incapable of doing anything other than squinting and puckering my lips.
There's a lesson in all this: You've got to look out for each other when you drink. We here at the Institute are obviously huge fans of a good drunk and the resultant bad behavior, bloodshot eyes, head-splitting hangovers, beer-stained clothes and late-night wake-ups of friends, family and old flames with 3 a.m. calls to shout, "I love you, man!" But going out and knocking back more than a few is not something to take lightly. You have to go with people you can rely on. People who will keep you out of the fight you insist on picking when you get in the smartass, belligerent phase of your gin drunk. People who will tell you when you've had enough, though by your count, you've only had five or six beers. People who will get you a cab despite your protestations that you're perfectly fine, even though you can't button your own pants, much less walk a straight line. People who will hold back your hair when you're throwing up your toenails. People who will make sure you don't pass out face down in a puddle of your toenails or, worse, pass out face up.
There's been a lot of press about the tragic drinking deaths in Fort Collins and Boulder. Blame is laid on the schools, the cops, the beer companies, the beer at football games, the timing of those games and George W. Bush. The universities see education as the solution, although their lesson plans focus more on how to identify yourself as an alcoholic and how many times you can get caught before you're thrown out of school than on how to take care of yourself or, more important, how to take care of your buddy when he's had too much to drink. We need to teach people when to call an ambulance and why they should worry more about the consequences for the comatose person than what the police will do if they found out everyone was drinking. They need to be reminded that they are responsible for themselves and those around them -- even if they have triple vision.
Sorry, but the Coors Twins, the Swedish Bikini Team and the Labatt's Bear didn't make you drink, and they sure as hell aren't going to prevent you from overdoing it. You are the man on the scene. And when your buddy's in trouble, you've got to do something -- even if it's just cure his hiccups.