Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sobrietary as performance

No, it's not one of those posts. I don't have a problem. Or at least not that problem.

However, I have had to more or less stop drinking for a couple months because of some medication i'm taking to get rid of something disgusting in my body and it's frankly given me a new perspective on the drinking population.

I'm not much of a heavy drinker--except at company parties and other events where it's necessary for survival. And I'm too lazy and boring and uninterested in watching professional sports to be much of a bar fly. But I do like good wine with a good meal, and it's been over a decade since I willfully gave up drinking a glass or two with dinner for any length of time, and frankly this stretch--now over a month--has led to some observations.

There is a certain pleasure and ego-maniacal sense of power that comes with maintaining clarity and focus as you watch everyone else around you slowly degrade: slurring their speech, mixing up words, losing their train of thought, stumbling around, etc. But far more interesting then these slips of speech or step is the way alcohol reveals people's intentions in a fairly transparent way, so that by the third or fourth drink they are more or less confessing things about who they are and what they want in ways you rarely see when you are both sober or both drunk.

In fact, staying sober in a drinking crowd gives you a pretty clear advantage if an advantage is what you are looking for, particularly with people like clients and bosses and other people you want something from.

I know this is old news when it comes to the art of seduction but I'm not sure i've seen sobriety explored as a performance enhancer. Of course, there is plenty of advice about how it's a bad idea to get drunk at company parties so you don't have sex with the boss's secretary or wife or husband, but I'm not sure I've read anything interesting on how to manipulate drunk people to get what you want. It's surprising considering how much career advice is out there.

But of course, I'm just making a virtue out of a deficiency. It's reasonably interesting to make people say stupid things, and watch your client tell you that they hate their or your boss, but I'd still trade it all for a nice glass of Brunello.


Beecham said...

Isn't this the reason why those who drink are so often uncomfortable, even suspicious, of those who don't? Don't know how comfortable I'd be now if I were talking to you, glass of wine in hand!

In your case, it seems sobriety can lead to confessionals too . . . and perhaps the forced sobriety is a clue to why you haven't been posting as frequently. . . not sure what that says about your theory.

Heather said...

What's the disgusting thing?? Tape worm?

sk said...

Maybe non-drinking could be framed as another ideological act, like vegetarianism or driving a prius, at least in the sense that it puts alchohol consumers on thee defensive; there is an implicit moral judgment or confession in deciding not to drink, even when all you want to do is drink. I could use a bloody mary right now in fact.

Fewer posts because of enhanced inhibitions? No, just busy at annoying meetings. Need to figure out how to post while listening to a brand presentation on health insurance sales channels. But not drinking has probably made me more boring, with fewer ideas, so maybe you're right.

Hi Heather. I wish I had tape worm! Maybe i should have a contest: guess the gross thing living off my flesh!

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