Tick, tick, tick. It’s Friday, 5:58pm. Two minutes until blissful, pleasure-seeking, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off-level freedom. Her feet are swollen from a weeks worth of pounding pavement, smiling through her teeth at demanding clients, and dodging her mother’s phone calls. Tick, tick, tick. Mmm. She’s craving burritos. Goopy, oily, unadulterated, porn star-style burritos. Slutty burritos. Yes, she wants one in, on, near, and around the proximity of her mouth. Badly. Tick, tick, tick. 5:59pm. Just 60 more seconds of slave labor, and then she’ll feel like Valjean when he got his parole or Rose when she got on that lifeboat…at least for the next two days. She whips out her phone, just to make sure the clock isn’t slow. “Be ready with a syringe full of Malibu *syringe emoji* *martini emoji* *tongue out smiley emoji*”, she texts to her partner in crime for the night. Tick, tick, tick. 6:00pm. She’s out of there so fast there’s a her-shaped hole through the wall like she’s Wiley freakin’ Coyote. What time is it? Binge drinking time.
If the next couple hours were sped up movie-montage style, you’d see two twenty-something females downing shot after shot, chased by margarita, followed by another shot, followed by another margarita, set to “Lose Control” by Missy Elliot. The camera would flash to our heroine screaming, “I love this sooooong!” while doing the white girl wiggle (it’s just an unhatched version of the “mom dance”), and then time-lapse to her crawling up onto the bar, one shoe dangling, while a pissed off bartender yells that she’s defying health codes left and right and that she needs to get down-now-unless she wants to be forcibly removed from the establishment. She complies, but not before puking into her friend’s beer and onto a man’s briefcase. She tops off the night she won’t remember by having a full blown emotional temper tantrum in the cab when the guy she’s been occasionally fucking won’t respond to any of her 6 texts and her friend-equally wasted-consoles her as she shovels mozzarella sticks into her mouth, three at a time, which she stole basket and all from a nearby table before she left. I want a refund, this was NOT the episode of Sex and the City I thought I signed up for.
I’d be lying if I said I’ve never been that girl. I have. Coyote Ugly set unrealistic expectations for the percentage of NYC bars that allow dancing on top of them, okay? I just want to spray a room full of heterosexual men with a cranberry juice gun while gyrating to Joan Jett before I die…is that so much for a girl to ask? I’ve had my fair share of alcohol-induced meltdowns, stripdowns, and throw ups. Collegiate culture almost insists upon not being able to remember at least one night out of the week. We all know this is a problem.
Contrary to how flippantly I’m describing it, binge drinking is a serious issue among teens and young adults, and it’s been steadily on the rise in the American female population. According to a 2011 survey collected by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), 13 percent of women and 20 percent of high school girls go on binge drinking sprees each month. 14 million women in the United States binge drink, and those who do average on 3 times a month. “White girl wasted” is a real thing y’all: Caucasians are 13 percent more likely to be tits-deep in a Jameson-induced shame-spiral than girls of any other race. And considering “binge drinking” is classified as four or more drinks for most women, and five or more drinks for most men, we’re seriously starving our wallets in the process.
So why are we putting ourselves through hangover hell at least three times a month? Our period only comes once in that time span, and we spend the weeks leading up to it dreading The Red Dragon in rueful anticipation. Are our lives really so dull and monotonous, our day jobs so insurmountably lobotomizing, our love lives so destitute and disappointing, that we have to drink until our outsides are on our insides and we’re sobbing into an empty Domino’s Cinnastix box? We are educated, empowered, employed ladies who are drowning our sorrows on the weekends in a surplus of sugary cocktails. It’s sad in the way that I came home one day in high school and found that my newly-spayed puppy had somehow gotten her cone stuck under the leg of a chair and couldn’t get up. She looked at me with these eyes like, “I know this was really stupid, please don’t judge me”.
Well I’m not going to judge you, ladies. I understand. Like I said, I’ve been there. Probably enough times to illicit a raised eyebrow. Male or female, we all want to blow off steam on the weekend. And when you’re navigating your late teens and early twenties, it’s easy to have a little measuring difficulty with just how much steam is too much. And by steam I mean rainbow colored vodka jello shots (hint: 6 is too much. Trust me.).
Aside from just completely tuning out our weekly routine, I’m going to propose that woman may binge drink for another reason as well. And no, I’m not going to say the patriarchy. Although, yeah, that may have a little something to do with it.
Even though as we are viewed as the chattier sex, I think men would be surprised to learn that we don’t just sit around all day talking about each other’s feelings in between our hair braiding sessions and our naked pillow fights. Ain’t nobody got time for that! We’re busy people and often our only connection with The Sisterhood happens once a week-or more rarely than that-when we finally get to grab a drink with a friend or two. We start addressing issues that may or may not include such subjects as our latest romantic conquests or rejections, our current financial status, our body image issues, what kind of mothers we want to be, what kind of mothers our mothers weren’t, and it spirals on and on as the empty glasses collect. Sometimes I really think the only time these issues see the light of day is when we’re sufficiently sauced. Sometimes I really do believe that we use a binge drinking lady-friend-sesh to cope with societal pressure to be completely poised and on top of our shit the other 6 days a week.
What I’m really talking about is modern women’s method of communication. We spend so much time and effort sizing other women up, comparing ourselves to other women’s careers and bodies and families (or if not actively comparing ourselves, having comparisons thrust upon us) that interaction can become stilted to mirror that sense of competition. How often do you have stiff, courtesy conversations with other ladies, while secretly thinking, “she doesn’t get me at all and God I’m bored and please let my IBS kick in so I’ll have an excuse to run away”? But add a couple of mai tais and suddenly you’re both getting matching BFF tattoos.
Binge drinking, serious and dangerous as it can be, isn’t going away anytime soon. Wherever there are crop tops, frat boys, and inflatable pool toys used indoors, binge drinking will not be far away. And yet, as depressing as it may be that we sometimes use alcohol as a way to connect, is it wrong for me to be glad that we connect at all? Obviously alcohol is a depressant, and I wouldn’t advise anyone to do anything serious or irreversible under the influence. But assuming our transportation method of choice is taxi and we all be wary of sharp objects, I don’t take issue with drunk girl bonding. I do take issue with drunk girl fighting-both physical and verbal-which is an entirely different level of intoxication that can absolutely be reached by binge drinking. Drunken violence is just never a good idea, lest you accidentally physically mame someone for life. But assuming you can keep your fists to yourself, don’t feel too ashamed to let loose a little bit on the weekends. Maybe not so loose you lose your purse and you wake up the next morning covered in what you’re praying is mud (oh GOD let it be mud), but loose enough to be able to talk freely about your life with people without the receptor in your brain that judges yourself. Who knows? Drunken networking is still networking. The girl the sober you thought was too-cool-for-school may end up getting drunk you hooked up with a dream job. And you never would have known without that fourth gin and tonic.
Written by Chelsea Leibow
Follow her blog Chelsea Twentysomething!