How much can you drink?
I was at a festive "gathering" on Wednesday night in London, and the topic briefly emerged about alcohol capacity as one of our band of merry media pros, whose blog is linked to here, seems to have a bottomless pit in which to place his ale.
Medical types say it's about metabolism, don't they? And I'll be content to accept that argument at the age of 34. But when you're 21, shuffling for a high placing in your peers' pecking order and also on the pull, the more you can drink is, of course, purely down to your levels of masculinity. Copious drinkers are also the fellows who have almighty sexual stamina, the best job, the most money, the finest brain and a level of charisma which could further galvanise even the most vibrant of social circles. Some genuinely idiotic, uncouth groups of blokes measure their manliness on how much ale they can quaff before having to visit the lavatory.
I don't know what measurements you apply to women who can take their liquor better than others. When I was a student, the ladies in my throng of associates either drank steadily, stupidly or not at all. The steady drinkers were fresh and no more at the night's end. The stupid ones were comatose, incoherent or, most likely when I think back, in a taxi two hours earlier and long asleep, unaware of the regret they'd feel when their head would wake them up in a few hours. The sober ones were actually the best company. But in any circle of comrades I have punctured in my various life stages, I cannot recall a genuinely prolific female drinker who was rendered unaffected by her ability to take plentiful amounts of her beverage. The recommended unitary intake is lower and women are affected by the stuff more quickly than men, so maybe it's harder for a lady to drink well, drink substantially and remain unaffected on the outside.
Which brings me back to the "gathering". The sponge-like gent in question has become known among us for his remarkable ability to imbibe a high level of ale without ever appearing slurry, unsteady on his feet or variable in his personality. It was pointed out fairly early on in our evening's japery that he had an empty glass in front of him from the same round of pints which were still three quarters full elsewhere at our table. He shrugged, laughed, and is modest in his achievements (and to many of course it's nothing to brag about, though this pal was just on a normal night out) - and I must say that despite my maturity threshold gaining naturally with the ageing process, I'm dead jealous. It's the Adrian Mole "thing" scenario all over again - "Donkey Dawkins says his thing comes off the end of a ruler, yet he is only a week older than me"; well, my liquid-friendly chum is, as it turns out, a month younger than me. It's not fair...
He also drinks lager which, when in my previous life as a lager drinker, was easy enough for my belly to accept but I often found myself "full" too early - not usually because of ale, but more because of gas. A smart, timely burp (with added subtlety, depending on the company I was keeping) was sufficient to alleviate this problem and on I could go. But not at this pace. Not ever.
Nowadays, it's Guinness which passes my lips on such occasions, and it's very much a Russian roulette system with me when the gorgeous black throat reformer is placed before me. Depending on how much I've eaten prior, the last time I consumed any alcohol, the pouring quality of the tap behind the bar and probably astronomical factors too, I can feel bloated and beaten after two pints, or sober and stoic after eight. It really is that much of a lottery. I was the latter at our "gathering" and enjoyed the party thoroughly; however, not even I in an on-form Guinness consumption mood could keep up with the stamina-levels of my friend. I'd be nowhere near, in fact. It isn't a competition and you'd be a fool to say it was, but fair play to him nonetheless. We had just one of those nights where he could relax in the company of friends, and we could gain some form of sly sport from observing his way of doing so.
Drink responsibly this Christmas... (I feel I should say this, but I'm sure you are all adults...)