DC Drinks

Reviews, rantlets and ribald on all things alcoholic.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

No Class Turkey: How to Handle Your Drunken Relatives

As a bartender, I've become accustomed to avoiding talking to drunken idiots. While relatives stewed in egg nog and Miller Lite pose an entirely different challenge, there is something to learn from those of us who do it for a living.

First thing is to look for pressure points where drinking can get out of hand. For example, my wonderful grandmother has a hand of steel when it comes to punches and nogs. Everyone knows this and scoops from the bottom, where enough alcohol to poison a baby elephant awaits the first, lucky customer.

Be first in line and dump that batch. It may be alcohol abuse, but you'll thank me when you're free from your drunk uncle's free flowing tirade on how fat such-and-such's kids are, the natural outcome of the first sip.

Next, avoid the "lounge." So named because it's where the smokers/heavy drinkers congregate aside from the older folks and more religiously inclined. At my family get-togethers, it is damn near a tailgate party. There in the driveway one of my uncles would pull up his car with a cooler of cold beer. Walking through this cluster of krunk is where the worst family gossip and fond memories of glory days past exist. If you smoke, make this the occasion to quit.

If prevention and total evasion haven't thus far worked, try spot maneuvers. My grandfather--God bless his heart--will pull me aside for a lecture on the castlization of Europe after pounding a couple non-alcoholic brews. I truly enjoyed this lecture the first time. After that, it became an hour of my life that I wanted back.

What I do is take the new guy, AKA my cousin's new boyfriend or husband, and signal him to come over. I act as though I want to involve him. That gives the dupe a sense of comfort and then--powwwiiiee--I say I'm going to get a glass of water. Sticking the newbie to hear grandpop's lecture.

If it's a drunken aunt, then you have to be a little more careful not to offend (lest you get a call from your mom the next day). My tactic here is pick up whatever snotty-nosed youngster is nearby. The child will give you some reasonable excuse to exit within five minutes or less, then hand him off when you turn the corner.

Lastly, going to the buffet always affords a reasonable excuse to escape. If you're peacefully watching the game and you're assaulted by your cousin's discourse on just how bad the Skins are this year and why Brunell is not to blame (right), just excuse yourself to get a plate of bird. Done.

Hopefully, you can spend the extra time I've saved you creating cherished memories. How come I think I've just earned you more drinking time for yourself?


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