Friday, May 11, 2007

So I turned 21...

...and learned that alcohol burns. It's warm in your throat and your stomach, and it makes your tongue feel all bitter-tingly, although you can't taste the alcohol as much when it's moving through or around in your mouth, but mostly after you swallow. I wonder why? Is it because that's when you inhale so it gets the chance to evaporate/oxidize? Anyone know organic chemistry?



It was an interesting first exposure - a lot of my friends came over to watch me try my first drink (a rum-pineapple-orange concoction by Kristen Dorsey). I made the mistake of sipping the shot and immediately made a terrible face that Mark Penner may or may not have caught on camera. The subsequent sips of cold white chocolate liqueur, courtesy of Ray Young, were much better. I didn't have very much, since I had to write a paper that night; I've yet to get tipsy (and somewhat doubt I'll ever really get drunk, which suits me fine).



Some folks ask me why I waited until my birthday to drink. Personal preference, really. I don't think it's morally wrong to consume alcohol at any age, and think that the current legal minimum age law in America (21) is wholly arbitrary, and to be honest, a little dumb. (This is assuming responsible consumption - not that you don't get drunk, but that you make sure everything and everybody is safe and fully informed, which is a good general rule of thumb for all activities in life anyway. I vehemently oppose reckless drinking no matter how old you are.) I don't think responsible drinking ought to be an act of rebellion. However, I never had a burning desire to try alcohol, and the "wait 'till you're legal" thing was very meaningful to my parents, so I waited. That's it. Not a big deal. Doesn't make me any better, any more prudish, any less social than my friends who didn't wait. (And I'm very grateful to them and the drinking environment at Olin, since I've never felt pressured to try alcohol before I wanted to.)



Having tried alcohol now after years of listening to descriptions of it, I'm fascinated by the relationship of my previous conception of alcohol and my current understanding of what it's like to drink - sort of the theory vs. practice gap, or the "how do you describe red to a blind person" thing. I've got to find out more about the psychological and physiological effects of alcohol now, beyond the dinky little symptoms lists I found online the night before. I realize that the usual effect of having a few drinks is to make you stop thinking intellectual thoughts, but hey - to each their own.

3 comments:

Sean McBride said...

I don't want to sound stuck up or silly, but sometimes that ability to "turn it off" for a while and stop thinking intellectual thoughts is a really nice thing. It's true though, to each his own. I've discovered I'm more of a cocktail type. :)

L33tminion said...

... although you can't taste the alcohol as much when it's moving through or around in your mouth, but mostly after you swallow... Is it because that's when you inhale so it gets the chance to evaporate/oxidize?

Two reasons:

1. Alcohol has a strong smell, but it takes a second for that to reach your nose from your mouth.

2. Alcohol has a strong flavor, but it also numbs your tastebuds.

Mel said...

Sean: Once SCOPE and all that is over and I have no more work to do, I'll give it a shot (no pun intended). I've needed all my brain cells to write papers so far. So we'll see - maybe it /is/ nice to be able to turn your brain off for a while. I've never been able to do that.