A couple of weeks ago, the CDC released a report about binge drinking, where binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks in one sitting. But, on The Atlantic’s website, a bar owner (for fuck’s sake, consider the source) disagrees:
Since it’s unclear, would you like to know just what my last drinking binge was like?
It began at dinner with a group of friends in a popular restaurant. What followed was a series of wines paired to dishes, including some rather unusual wine selections by our very talented sommelier. I became a bit tipsy but, after nearly four hours, delightful conversation, and an amazing meal, what I felt most was satiated.
I consumed seven drinks in total, or about two per hour. I finished with a Scotch just to cap the night and then took a taxi home where I watched half of an episode of How I Met Your Mother before tip-toeing to bed.
The CDC tells us that binge drinking is a “bigger problem than previously thought,” suggesting that it can (and often does) result in risky behavior, leading to violence, suicide, spread of sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, car crashes, and alcohol dependence. They also insinuate that binge drinking causes crime. By their measure, binge drinkers rack up over 223 billion dollars annually.
But during my binge drinking session I didn’t start a fight. I didn’t engage in unprotected sex or infect anyone with a sexually transmitted disease. I didn’t worry about becoming dependent on alcohol, crashing my car, or suicide. I didn’t engage in crime. I just had a great time and then went to sleep.
Another commentator argued that the wealthy are stressed out more, and are consequently getting plonked more often (yes, pity the poor family that only makes $450,000 per year). What’s ridiculous in both the above narrative and the ‘stress’ argument (other than the idea that they are actually more stressed) are the overwhelming class biases.
Yes, it’s possible to get schnozzled on Thunderbird and Schaeffer (the beer to have when you’re having more than thirteen!), but most families that earn between $25,000 to $75,000 per year aren’t drinking seven glasses of high end wine served by a sommelier, with a Scotch as a nightcap. And don’t forget the “amazing meal.” Unless you like Thunderchicken, drinking that much booze is expensive.
Related to that, drinking a lot in the evening is a luxury afforded to those who have jobs where they can do so and not get fired. Many middle-income people work odd shifts or pull a second job. Hangovers don’t work in that situation on a regular basis. And some of these jobs also involved lots of physical work. Professionals can afford to have a heavy drinking night without affecting their job–and, in this economy, workers are afraid to look like they’re slacking.
We seem to have forgotten that the wealthy, and even the comfortable, have always indulged themselves. Because they can.