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Cornered by your sobriety


The major problem seems to be that sobriety can make one polite, so you just stand there and listen

File picture: Eric Risberg/AP

To call me “a bit of an introvert” is an understatement. I have never done well in company.

Rather, I am at all times looking for an escape route to a quieter corner to get away from the hubbub.

I am that fellow who will get to a party and wind up playing with the pets, or I will spend time with those other small things – that are so loud and talk so fast, and move so extremely quickly – what do you call them again?

Oh yes, children!

My experiences at social gatherings have the makings of a horror novel. Not because anyone is horrible – not at all; but simply because I am so uncomfortable that from the time I get to a gathering I am formulating my escape plan.

My worst fear has been realised so many times that I have run out of fingers on which to count them.

You know that fear of being at a party and someone calls you over to “ask you something”. Then, as you start to speak, the person, or persons, who called you over excuse themselves and you find yourself speaking into the vacant stare of Drunk Daniel or Inebriated Ivan who then proceeds to lay out his views on the particle theory of farts.

And as Daniel or Ivan rambles on about methane to bean ratios for what feels like an eternity, all I am thinking is: “I should not have come here to this party!”

The major problem seems to be that sobriety can make one polite, so you just stand there and listen.

Look, I will not condemn anyone who enjoys the tingle that alcohol brings to their brain’s neurons. But I have always wondered, when someone starts acting like a saint, a clown or a tyrant after having a few too many ounces of alcohol has the alcohol been restraining the person’s real character or has it actually magically created a whole new alcohol-infused super being?

Not knowing the answer to this question makes me wary – very wary – of someone who has lifted the elbow a few times. I don’t know if I can trust them; and trust is a big thing in society.

When everyone is sober no one wants to extol the merits of methane!

People sometimes say the ugliest things when they are inebriated, and a few days later apologise profusely saying, “It was the tequila talking.”

So I have found that pacts made with, and promises made by, Daniel and Ivan – while they are elucidating the merits of the alkane series of hydrocarbons and its effects on the integrity of the seams on one’s underpants – are meaningless.

It was the tequila that was sincere not the real Daniel or Ivan.

This drunken behaviour can become such a problem for an introvert that one becomes rather sensitive to this phenomenon, even comparing it to goings-on in society like elections for example.

In the next few months, “Ivans” and “Daniels”, drunk with the prospect of power, will be lighting up the social scene. Is it any wonder that the cliques they move around in are called “parties”?

They will be speaking to the potential voter with sincerity; making pacts, promises and friendships, but their eyes will be glazed over as they speak about what can be considered to be the equivalent of farts – it smells bad, but it’s pretty harmless.

In fact it’s better than what can happen if they actually get to sit down and really “do their business”.

It’s becoming a trend that promises made before an election are usually reinterpreted and “clarified” after a party has secured power; like in George Orwell’s 1945 allegorical novella Animal Farm, where a simple list of laws or commandments changed after power had been secured.

My all-time favourite is when the commandment “All animals are equal” was adapted to read: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”.

So it seems that we should be pretty careful of what “parties” we attend, lest we get cornered by someone with a vacant stare.