Con Survival Guide, Post #14: Dealing With Drunks
Last night, there was a girl passed out on the floor in the hall outside a room party at the convention I’m currently attending as a guest. She was sleeping quietly while being watched over by one of her friends. When we passed her later, she was being watched over by a different one of her friends. While that’s good and kind of cool, you should really try to avoid cramping your friends’ style that way. She definitely owes them a big favor now. Hopefully she realizes it. Drinking responsibly is definitely the way to go. You have more fun, and if you do it you don’t get a hangover and you remember what happened.
Drinking irresponsibly, on the other hand, can lead to getting mugged, waking up in a hospital, mysteriously finding out you’re pregnant a couple of months later, being ejected from conventions, being ejected from hotels, or waking up in bed with a strange man, which can be particularly bad if you are a straight male or a lesbian. Of course, it’s a much bigger deal if you’re a straight guy and wake up pregnant, but most likely if that happens you’ll make enough money off your story to never have to work again, so there are pros and cons.
Generally if you’re going to drink, you should start by drinking some water and taking a vitamin pill would not be a bad idea. It’s also a good idea to try and make a decision on how much you’re planning to drink beforehand. Let’s be honest: If you don’t remember what happened, then you did not have a good time. If you think otherwise, your life is miserable and you need to work on it. If you’re at a con, you’re most likely hanging out with a bunch of friends. When you go drinking, you should go as a group and look out for each other. Whether or not you intend to drink responsibly, things happen. If someone else has gotten really drunk, try to keep in mind that next time it might be you, whether you believe that is true or not.
A few years ago, I was at a convention and had had a really hard day, partially from dealing with my job as a track director, and partially from dealing with my ex (who was not my ex yet) and the guy whose room she was in. So that evening, I had the most I would normally drink at room parties. And then I heard in rather fast succession from two different people about how first one and then another of my friends had died recently, which I did not know prior to that. This resulted in me going into a room party and getting a 32 ounce drink of half blue Powerade and half either Golden Grain or Everclear (if you don’t know, those are just pure alcohol). I downed the drink in less than three seconds, and what happened after that is Con Legend, but I don’t remember a thing. I can tell you that I felt really bad for a week. The next day, when I woke up in a strange hotel room between a couple of my friends, I was disoriented, drunk, and hung over. And then I had to go do a panel.
Just a couple of years ago, one of my kung fu students and I got between an incredibly drunk trucker and the young lady she was trying to grope, at which point we both became the objects of attempted groping. We kept her occupied and distracted her from her original target long enough for her to go somewhere else, and eventually shook her off and got away ourselves. The next day, the trucker was genuinely embarrassed and humiliated by her behavior of the night before, but it could have been much worse.
Even an amiable drunk lacks judgment but is absolutely sure that their judgment is sound and reasonable. The most belligerent drunk may well be a really nice person under ordinary circumstances and not really someone who deserves to have the crap beaten out of him. If you are sober, the thing to use is your brain to convince them to do whatever they need to be doing, like returning to their room where hopefully you can get them to lie down and pass out before any other problems occur. On a number of occasions, I have given drunks shot glasses full of water which they slammed one after another while convinced they were getting even drunker.
The old myth about sobering somebody up with coffee only gives you a wide-awake drunk. However, if they were drinking beer it may result in them spending hours pissing in the bathroom rather than running around acting stupid, and you can always tell them they had a great time. Hell, if you want to you can tell them they had a great time making out with a guy in drag. I’m not actually recommending that; it wouldn’t be nice. One thing’s for sure: You would much rather have them sleeping it off. The last thing you want is a wide-awake drunk. Despite the fact that energy drinks mixed with alcohol kills people, I still see people going on about how great it is. Please don’t be stupid and don’t let your friends be stupid. I have on many occasions seen people convincing their drunken friend to follow them back to the room when it was obvious they were too drunk to walk correctly and almost ready to pass out by telling them they were going to another room party. As these people generally had to tell the person where they were going or what was going on about every thirty seconds, usually preceded by the drunk person insisting they wanted to go to another party and wanting to know where they were going, it required high maintenance. I have also seen two or more people practically carrying a vaguely ambulatory but entirely disoriented person back to their room. Unfortunately, it’s more important to make sure your female friends are not left out with possibly untrustworthy men or lesbians while drunk.
A luggage cart can be a convenient thing to load a drunk on. If you can get them on a luggage cart, then you can just cart them back to their room. George Leonard (author of Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfillment) used to tell a story about a belligerent drunk on a train in Japan when he was young and full of himself because he’d had a few years of martial arts. He was about to step up and start a fight with the guy when an old man stepped between them and asked the drunk what he was drinking, and started talking to him about how he used to drink that when he was young. Within minutes, the belligerent drunk was now crying on the old man’s shoulder, telling him his troubles, and George Leonard realized that the old man was far more of a master than he had mistakenly imagined himself to be.
In short, most situations call for thinking and compassion rather than violence and aggression.
Copyright © 2013 Julian Thomas Reid III