For the dedicated, drinking can be a lifestyle-defining hobby, like baseball or auto racing or gambling or religion.
There’s the same arrangement of one’s life to accommodate certain habitual activities at certain times — and the same dismaying sense of rudderlessness that accompanies missing those activities. There’s the same way that most conversations gradually circle in to focus on aspects of one’s obsession. There’s the same way that friends and peers who don’t share the same interest tend to fade away over time. There’s even the same tendency toward pilgrimages — it’s just that instead of going to the Holy Land or Daytona or Fenway, drinkers talk about visiting those watering holes where famous dead people used to toss a few back.
Career drinkers are also prone to the same sort of rule-setting and superstitions that typify the athletically or spiritually religious. Some count their drinks. Some never drink before 5. Some take a shot of water with each drink. Many try to always sit in the same seat every time they patronize a given bar — and some won’t stay if they can’t.
There’s a whole mythology that surrounds the culture of drinking, a diverse and often bewildering system of belief; even teetotalers and occasional tipplers have heard that beer before liquor makes you sicker, and probably also that beer after liquor has the same effect.
What about the rumor that slamming pickle juice before each shot keeps you from getting hung over? Or that eating a meal heavy on olive oil will keep you from getting drunk no matter how much you imbibe? Or that drinking during the day is less harmful to your health than drinking late into the night, because you metabolize the alcohol more quickly during activity than you do while asleep?
It goes on and on.
My favorite drinker’s belief is much more commonplace.
My favorite drinker’s belief is the one about The Window.