The crying game

By | 2013/11/25

iStock DrinkingGrowing up, I used to be routinely entertained by my mother’s stories of my grandfather’s antics when he’d get drunk. There was the amusing story of cracker night where he and his mates would shove double-bungers down each other’s work boots and the race would be on to get the boot off before the cracker exploded. Not to mention the stories of just flinging crackers at each other at full force, or whilst drunk putting dead animals in each other’s cars, and so on. My grandfather was particularly fearful of snakes, for instance, and once put his hand into a slightly warm bag in his car thinking a mate had left a pie in there, only to discover a freshly beheaded red bellied black snake coiled in the bag.

Then there were the other stories that came out when I was a little older. My grandfather drove trucks – but my mother and her sisters have on several occasions told stories of how he used to get up and drink a bottle of Johnny Walker Red whiskey (with milk) before getting on the road each morning. The milk, I understand, was to settle his stomach enough to be able to take in that much alcohol first thing.

Equally my father had somewhat of a merry past before the birth of my older brother – my brother was born in 1969 and dad hasn’t drunk since that year.

I don’t pretend that I’m a non-drinker. In the past I’ve certainly got exceedingly drunk, but it’s probably been at least 10 years since I’ve actually had a hangover, and probably another 10 years before that. Except under very rare situations, I know when to stop.

In the gay community I hear about alcohol abuse all the time. The three topics the gay community is lectured on, and lectures itself on regularly, are:

  • Safe sex;
  • Drug abuse;
  • Alcohol abuse.

They’re all valid topics to discuss, but sometimes, just sometimes it seems that we’re the primary focus of those three messages. When I hear of heterosexual targeted safe sex campaigns, they mainly seem to be around the consequences of ending up a mother or father without planning for it, not coming down with a sexually transmitted disease – yet we know for a fact that STDs don’t discriminate based on sexual orientation, no matter what crazy extremists would tell you.

Drug and alcohol campaigns do run community wide, but you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re almost entirely targeted at the gay community and the under-25 community.

The real forgotten community in all this is the country.

I grew up in the country – the first time I tried alcohol was when I was 18, and I really didn’t bother all that much again with it for a couple of years. Uni changed that a little – that was where I got my first hangover, but it was accompanied by only remembering about 2 hours of a 10 hour night out. I learnt my lesson early.

Getting blotto.

Getting shitfaced.

Off your face.

No matter how you look at it, in many country scenarios there’s a pride associated with getting so completely drunk that you can’t stand up. Forget 0.05 or drink driving, this enters the realm of drink standing. It involves being so drunk that you get into the fountain in the park and sing love songs, or can’t climb into the back of your car without falling down a half dozen times, or think a great practical trick is to shit in someone’s boots … and to think nothing of having drunk an entire slab of beer. It’s not about being pleasantly numb, it’s about losing 12 or more hours of your memory.

Country folk often complain that they’re overlooked by people who live in the city.

This is one area where we risk significant damage to our country brothers and sisters by overlooking them.