Tonight is the State of the Union address, and here in Washington, everyone's starting to have the same thought: "What drinking game are we all playing tonight?" Yes, life is boring here, and we are boring people, and if there's one thing that a State of the Union promises everyone, it's a healthy wallop of dreary repetition, punctuated by occasional bursts of nonsense. And, as has been pointed out elsewhere, these addresses tend to be stultifyingly unmemorable affairs, a situation that cries out for us to manufacture our own fun.
But in the years to come, as you sit in your AA encounter group listening to everybody's tales of woe and tragedy, do you really want to be the guy who has to admit that your drinking problem stems from that time President Barack Obama really leaned heavily on calls to boost the manufacturing sector? You do not. You will look like an idiot.
Not trying to be no rock-and-roll fun, people! But on a day where we are poised to do a searching inventory on the state of our nation, I have done a searching inventory on the state of our drinking, and have concluded that it is not strong.
Let's take what was considered to be the most important American drinking innovation of the past half-decade: the insane "malt liquor energy drink" Four Loko. Any sober examination of this product leads you to the inevitable conclusion that we, as a nation, are totally blowing it. And I'm not talking about the enhanced way that Four Loko leads to blackouts. I'm talking about the madness of putting caffeine, taurine, and guarana into a drink that already tastes like you distilled fruit punch inside the transmission of your car.
Why on earth are we distorting the natural trajectory of a drinking binge by adding caffeine? When I want to get sad, I want alcohol to be that thing that helps me to believe that "it gets better" for an hour or two, and then I want it to be thing that abruptly stops getting better all at once. I don't want to be excited and awake for the entire experience! Taurine is an intestinal acid found in bile. Are we really having that much trouble getting bilious? I thought we were all blogging and stuff! Guarana sounds like something we're raping a bunch of rainforests to put in our booze, and the thoughts of wetland destruction just make me want to drink more. Why are we adding more viciousness into what was already a perfectly fine vicious cycle?
Four Loko is being slowly banned across the nation, but because you people just don't seem to get it, even dumber alcoholic products are being created, like crunked-up whipped cream. All of this has led The Awl's Alex Balk to make the following lamentation that people really need to hear:
Jesus Christ, why don't people just drink BOURBON anymore? No wonder this country is falling apart. Okay, yes, I am mildly curious if the nitrous you wind up sucking down every time you buy a bottle of whip cream is affected by the presence of alcohol, but other than that my objection stands. JUST DRINK REGULAR ALCOHOL, you pussies. It is the only thing ever made that needs no enhancement.
Were it not for these glaring flaws in the state of our drinking, I could get on board with a State of the Union drinking game. But as a nation, we are headed in a very perilous direction. And if we're going to make new demands of our lawmakers, to set a more civil tone, then we have to demand more of ourselves as well. So let's strive, in 2011 to become a nation that's less about drinking "games," and more about the drinking business. Let's strive, at the very least, to put ourselves into a numb stupor as if we cared about professionalism.
One last note on the matter of the State Of The Union and drinking. Today, hero intern Daniel Hernandez is in town and will attend the State of the Union address as the guest of Michelle Obama. It also happens to be his 21st birthday, so I'm asking all area bartenders to spend the day practicing this line: "Mr. Hernandez, this one is on the house." And keep a warm cab waiting for the man, okay?