Jake O’Brien takes a look at festivities from a clearer perspective, staying off drink for a friend’s birthday party
“So you’re not drinking at all tonight? Jesus! Good luck…” The surprise in his voice was obvious; the confusion was more than evident. This was one of several similar quotes addressed to me throughout the night as I subtly paraded my sobriety about the house party. I was a walking, talking block of clear-sighted suspicion, gleefully entrenched among the patrons of my friend’s twenty-second birthday shindig.
However, we cannot forget that the epicentre of this experience is the assignment. Yours truly was not permitted to imbibe a single millilitre of anything alcoholic over the course of the entire day and night. This is, after all, an otwo Attempt; a brash swing at an idea we collectively choose to ignore. How is it done? How do these people not drink when mired in a swamp of enthusiastic inebriation? This, then, was the ultimate ideal of my night: a rare and wholesome look at my drunken self through the eyes of sobriety.
So, let’s get down to it. The evening began as any similar event would these days, with some semblance of a pre-session: a haphazard gathering of several connected friends, with a likeminded penchant for arriving at a session already several sheets to the wind. Given that I was refraining from alcohol, I became the designated driver and so, had to drive a car full of that-which-I-couldn’t-have to the outskirts of Walkinstown for the night’s festivities.
If I was not thinking of the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden on the car ride, I most certainly was upon our understated arrival. The attendance was at least triple what we had expected. With this many attendees, the soundtrack for the evening was set in stone: the sharp hiss of a fresh can, followed swiftly by the hard crack as the ring-pull is stressed and resettled. However, while all of this reads like the withdrawal-ridden ranting of a premature alcoholic, I found that once I reclined into the conversational swing of the night, I was no less happy with a glass of water than I would have been with a can or a glass of (insert preferable poison here).
With this many attendees, the soundtrack for the evening was set in stone: the sharp hiss of a fresh can, followed swiftly by the hard crack as the ring-pull is stressed and resettled
As the night lumbered on, it became clear that alcohol was indeed the necessary lubricant of our culture. We seem to feel obnoxiously at ease in our playful arrogance and curiously petrified at the notion of this nectar running out. This is not to say that I became a nervous wreck, cowering in the corner of a wooden veranda and wondering when it would all end. No; yet I was hardly the life and soul of the party. I am sure that I was the life and soul of something though – myself, at the very least.
Nonetheless, the night continued into those ether-drenched hours past twelve, and everyone seemed to find their happy balance; their inebriated medium. Gone was the understated nervousness of people meeting people. Gone were the ideas of inadequacy or low self-esteem. We were on a par now, congregating in groups of four or five around the doors, ledges and tables. But no one can sit now. This is the pivotal part of the proceedings when entertainment outside that of alcohol, but fuelled by it, must occur.
Move to the bouncing castle. The roars are let out and the testosterone begins to pump. This seemingly innocent nostalgic party piece is full of both air and mischief. However, the joy and benevolence of a bouncing castle is that, drunk or not, you are guaranteed a good time. With bodies flying and a sinkhole being bored into the centre of the structure, we threw ourselves at anyone who seemed up for it. With the clever addition of a slide attached to the contraption, play became ever more devious. At several points the castle was turned upside-down and on its side, all while containing at least five beings. It must also be noted that all of this was occurring on the darker side of black. Without light, blind aggression kicks up a notch, and any silhouette is fair game. Christ, get away from the damned thing – move somewhere else and see what a craned neck and a voyeur’s eye can conceive.
At several points the castle was turned upside-down and on its side, all while containing at least five beings
It was towards the end of my night that the ‘Howiya Condition’ began to take hold. Leering masculine eyes drenched in confidence drift towards the fairer sex and the slurred colloquialism slips from the end of their tongues: “Howiya!” Any female can fall victim to this truly Irish and drunken approach; all it requires is the right amount of social lubricant and an appropriate quantity of mischief. This activity indeed marks the climax of the night. A pinnacle has been reached and the goggles are firmly in place.
However, here my endeavours come to a close. My sobriety demands sleep and a mattress calls from four suburbs over. But what have I really attempted here? Going a whole fun-filled night without alcohol? Conversing with any and all without liquid confidence?
The main point would be that this is doable. It is worth the effort and it can do no possible harm, unless you cynically mouth off to some worse-for-wear fiend and end up in an uncoordinated brawl outside Supermacs.
All this being said, there is a possibility of alienating yourself, but you would have to be a vehemently obnoxious sober judge to pull that one off.