The science of getting drunk

I’ve always hated alcohol. Or rather, I’ve always hated the idea of alcohol. I grew up watching sensible people get daft with some booze in their system. I’m haunted by the image of two adults in a car arguing over the car keys. We’d left a party late at night, and both of them were drunk. One was driving on the curb, and the other was trying to snatch the keys. It was the middle of the night, and we were on some back road in Eastleigh. I was 9 years old.

I also remember a relative staggering into my room while I studied. I was listening to music and pretending not to see him, but I wondered what would happen if I screamed, and whether anyone would hear me, since we were completely alone in the house.

Growing up, the adults had a policy about booze. They figured if you drank enough as a kid, you’d be sober as an adult. We had family at AFCO, so the house was better stocked than any bar. The theory worked pretty well, because both my brothers are in their 20s, and they’re strictly tea and Red Bull. Me, on the other hand, I had … issues. See, on the surface, I was haunted by drunken adult arguments. But a few levels down, I liked the taste of some of those spirity-looking things. I know I don’t like the taste of beer, but some of those random dark liquids were hot liquid sugar. But since I was too busy sneering when I was cajoled into sipping, I couldn’t turn around and say,

‘Ooooh that one was really good? What’s it called?’

The problem was compounded when I discovered altar wine. I made a plan to hide inside a closet as an adult, and sip on endless wine-rum-whisky-gold-drinks till I could find the one that was so good. The closest I’ve gotten to that elusive taste is Cognac, Baileys, and Chamdor Mango Chilled. I did have this dry white wine at a party once, and it was really good. But I stopped on the third glass because although I didn’t feel drunk, my voice got way too loud, and the in-laws were giving me awkward looks.

On the surface, I still abhor alcohol, so my friends constantly accuse of kuwapima akili. They feel that when they’re high and I’m sober, then I’m feeling superior. There have been several attempts to spike my Malta and bully me into booze. So far, they’ve been unsuccessful.

Nicotine is pretty much the same thing. I don’t know how it happened, because I grew up around smokers, and nobody ever told me it was bad. I remember being threatened with a spanking because I’d voiced a thought to flash some cigars down the toilet. The point was to prevent lung cancer. I also remember the look of shock on one adult’s face when a toddler tried to light up first an OB, then a rolled up cardboard box. He was spanked within a inch of his … well … it was a pretty nasty lashing.

Still, I’ve never wanted a cigarette. It just never interested me. I did light up once, at age 22. It was mostly to impress my date – and I did – I didn’t cough. I remember feeling really relaxed while I had it in my hand, wondering why I’d never smoked before, and thanking God I’d never picked up the habit. I could see how the euphoria got addictive.

Back to today, or rather, last year. I got home after a stint abroad [read Tanzania] with ideas of trying Baileys. My pals had always told me that I’d like it, since it tastes like chocolate. So when my baby was away, during a really bad bout of PMS, I bought a bottle and nursed it.

It wasn’t what I expected. The first sip was heaven, pure liquid chocolate. The second sip felt like needles on my tongue. I wasn’t impressed. I went online checking for cocktails and drinking tips. They said, ‘Put it in coffee,’ but I don’t really do coffee. It turns me into a squirrel on crack. The next choice was drinking chocolate, but that didn’t work either. Then it said, ‘Try it neat on ice.’ As Lasanda would say, ‘And it’s a Bingo!’ Since then, I’ve had several sessions of Irish Cream on the rocks. Pure heaven. Of course, it’s dairy based, so I have painful cramps for days afterwards … milk allergies. Also, gas.

And just so you know, Weetabix + Baileys = Bad idea.

A few days ago, irreconcilable differences left me in the friend zone. I figured the best way to get over it was to get drunk and pass out. This had never happened before, even though I go through a bottle of Baileys at a time. I always wonder what I’m like when I’m drunk. As far as I know, I talk a lot and get giggly, but there’s no significant difference in behaviour. Still, I’ve been told I’m cute when I’m drunk. *shrug*

I decided to try Malibu, since, you know, that other stuff gives me bad cramps and gas. The first sip was heaven. It went straight to my head and I had to hold the chair to keep from falling over.  I felt instantly drunk and shot off a few drunk messages that I shouldn’t have. One got me yelled at, one got me laughed at, one solicited an offer of free alcohol.

I remember thinking Malibu  had a vague, sweet taste, but that’s probably something I got off Wikipedia. It didn’t have the oomph that Baileys had, but then again, it wouldn’t bug my allergies, and everybody loves coconut. It’s not something I’d buy again though. It may have made me drunk faster, but it had no character.

After a while, it settled in my system, especially when I added pineapple juice and coke. Together. [Pinacolada doesn’t work too well when you use Malibu and Picana. The coke was to hide the nasty, annoying taste. It was nothing like cocopine.]

I didn’t feel better after one glass, though my vision was blurry, and I did shoot off a few more unwise emails. In my defense, they all seemed like good ideas at the time, and I said on Twitter, I’ll never judge a drunk dialler again.

I figured I should finish off the bottle, since it’s a bad idea to have booze in the house. Nothing good can come from it. I drank the the third glass at a gulp so I could finish faster, but during my last glass of mostly neat Malibu with a teaspoonful of coke and 29 ice cubes, I felt positively sick. I couldn’t see straight, the ground seemed really close, and the food in my tummy was dancing around. I figured I’d pour what was left in my glass and switch to Eno. That was one expensive piece of drainage just then.

The Eno didn’t help, and I rushed to the toilet and threw up so violently that I felt instantly sober. Jeez! I remembered some advice I was given and followed up with a litre of water. [Well, 750ml. Three glasses was all I could manage.] Then I had to clean the sink and scrub the toilet. Also, I roughly brushed my teeth, because they felt gross!

I kept chanting never again, never again, never again – that and cursing a lot, now that I could see straight and stand without swaying. But I was smiling on the inside, because I know everyone says that while they’re throwing up. I crawled into bed and blacked out, and I didn’t once turn until morning, which is really strange for me.

The next day, I woke up with no hangover, [thank God] feeling surprisingly calm. I shot off sensible [if somewhat apologetic] emails and even got a little work done. I walked to the shop and smiled at happy couples, which was strange for me. I decided I’d keep of guys for a while, because scrubbing puke-filled toilets is no fun, and also, being friend-zoned twice in two months is a sign that something needs to be fixed, quickly.

I don’t know what it was that made me feel so easy. I don’t want to believe the simple cure of heartache is being drunk and puking our guts out. Also, Malibu is really expensive! But for some reason, I feel a lot better now, and 2011 looks better than it did on the 1st.

I just hope nobody messes this by asking me out *furrowed brow*

Of course, the moral question I took from all this is … how will I teach Princess that drinking is bad? Do I even need to? After all, she had an alcoholic father, so she sneers at any sign of drunks. Also, nobody told me cigarettes [and drugs] were bad. I learnt the lessons all by myself with no help from bad experience or scary posters. Maybe my baby will imbibe her lesson the same way. A mum can dream, can’t she?

Still, just to be safe, we’ve already had the ‘keep-your-legs-shut-drugs-are-bad-cigarettes-make-your-breath-smell’ talk. Sadly, she’s curious about cigarettes and she has no concept of lung cancer. At least her grandad doesn’t smoke a pipe anymore. I’ll start with the Hail Marys now.


Hangover chronicles



Your worst drinking binge was inspired by a boy. Makes sense that your first hangover would be too. You’ve never been much good at holding down your alcohol. That’s why you swallow so much water when you drink. But this time, it didn’t help.

You check the time. 4.00 a.m. Your mouth feels dry. You want to go downstairs and get some water but your feet won’t move and the room won’t stop. You text your best friend. Pink elephants are drumming in your head.

Your fish lights are off. You don’t remember putting them off. You remember thinking about putting them off, because if you leave the lights on all night, then your fish forget to sleep. You remember feeding the fish, and planning to come down later and put them off. But you don’t remember actually putting them off.

You go back to bed. You know you need painkillers. You have a stash of fifteen. In your desk. At the office. Crap. You check the time again. 4.15. You lie down veeeeery slowly, because sudden moves are costly. Your hangover has a persona and if it figures out that you’re trying to fight it, it’s going to whoop your ass. You send a text to your boss, and his response is touching, if not a little strange.

Boss text 1

Boss text 2

You check the time. 6.05. You throw on a red hoodie. You go back down the stairs. Slowly. So slowly. Because if you wait five seconds between each step, your hangover won’t notice that you’re moving. You quietly open the noisy metal gate. It’s cold outside. You amble to the closest open kiosk 200 metres away.

The lady at the kiosk watches you. She has a scarf over her nose and mouth. Is she cold or just reacting to your breath? Are your words making any sense? Could the ground stop moving please? She gives you Mara Moja and Eno worth a sock.


You consider making eggs. You hear they’re great for getting boozy toxins down the drain. But no. Scrambling eggs requires too much movement and your motor skills are shot. You text your best friend. She recommends bananas and Nakumatt juice. You figure you should start by imbibing the Eno. It doesn’t end well.

You sit on the kitchen floor, hugging a bucket. You tell yourself you’re not a stereotype, because you’re in the kitchen, not the bathroom. You don’t want to move because the cold tile is oddly comforting. You finish retching and clean up after yourself. Because you don’t want your baby to see a bucket full of puke.


You go back to bed but you can’t find your phone. You panic, search everywhere, but veeeeery sloooooowly. No sudden moves. You give up. You lie down and pretend to sleep but your body isn’t buying it. You look for your phone again. It’s in your back pocket. How did it get there?

You open your phone. You see the all numbers you drunk dialled. Oh God. You can vaguely remember having conversations … but what did you say? Why can’t you remember what you said? Fuck!

You check social media. Twitter. Facebook. You updated your status, apparently. Good grammar, no typos. You can’t have been that drunk. But why can’t you remember typing it? And more importantly, how the hell did you type it? You don’t have Facebook on your phone. You never have Facebook on your phone.


You check your laptop. It’s safely in the hidden compartment above the shelf. Did you take it down, log in, update your social media, and then stash it back on the shelf? Did you install Facebook on your phone, post a status update, and then uninstall? Why can’t you remember?

You pause. You decide to check your inbox. 43 messages. FORTY. THREE. MESSAGES! And some of them have pictures. What the hell … when did you do all this? And what were you trying to say? Clearly, autocorrect and alcohol don’t gel.

You call your best friend. She says she saw the messages and panicked, that’s why she called you. She didn’t know what you were trying to say. You ask her what you said, because you don’t remember chatting … or photographing baskets and sheets. Oh God, what else don’t you remember?

No hangover

You look at the messages again. You laugh. You have to laugh. Because, really, what were you trying to say? And who forgets typing 43 inbox messages on Facebook? You see a text. It’s from him. He says he’s sorry he put you through this, and hopes you can find it in your heart to forgive him. Uh-oh. You vaguely remember calling him. You’ve been fighting. No. You’ve been fighting. He’s been isolating. He needed space to think. And now he’s apologising. What. the. hell. did. you. tell. him. last. night?!?

You look above the apology. Oh God. Oh. Dear. Sweet. God. There are 57 messages on your phone. And you don’t remember typing a single one of them. You cave in. You call him. He seems excited to hear your voice. It’s the first time he’s heard it in weeks. Because he stopped calling you, and he told you not to call him. No, that’s not true. He heard your voice last night. And you can’t remember what you said…


You talk, or try to. You ask what you’re forgiving him for. For putting you through this, he says. You ask him what you said last night. He laughs, but it’s a sad laugh. He says he’s glad you can’t remember. You ask if he has changed his mind. He asks why you won’t change yours. You both realise there’s nothing left to say.

When you met this boy, you knew he wanted kids and you didn’t. You talked about it over and over, and he said he was okay with not having kids. But now you’ve been fighting a cold war for weeks, because he changed his mind and the wedding is off.

You check the time. 4.15 a.m. You’ve been staring at the ceiling for 24 hours, pretending to be asleep. Your phone alarm rings. It’s time to take a shower and go to work. Because the baby needs to eat … and the bills need to be paid … and no matter how badly your heart is crushed … life. must. go. on.

♫ Electrical storm ♫ U2 ♫

Et tu Baileys?

Baileys Bottles

I don’t drink. But whenever I do, it’s Baileys, Baileys, Baileys. I like that it tastes like liquid chocolate, and comes in a beautifully curvy bottle. There’s something very comforting about that rich, colourful packaging. Well, there used to be.

I’ve had an interesting afternoon. I started out browsing 15 ads that changed the way we view homosexuality, and giggled at all the double entendre. Then I looked at 16 ads that changed the way we view sex, and was especially touched.

I paused on Twitter, to see what was going on, and saw a link about Baileys changing its bottle. The article was more about how amazing the campaign was, but all I could was think was OMG, they made the bottle thinner? Why?!? Well, “The trendier bottle now has a heightened and a slimmer body to give it a more feminine, stylish and elegant profile giving every stylish woman a reason to find a place for it in her lifestyle.” Sigh. Did I mention the billboard features a ballerina?

Photo from
Photo from

I have an almost-teenage daughter. And I’ve struggled with weight issues all my life. Currently, I’m attempting to lose 15kg on the advice of three different doctors. The last thing I want to see is my favourite soothingly voluptuous beverage going on a diet. It’s not bad enough that thin is in on runways and in the media, now it’s in my glass as well?

I don’t usually care about pointless social activism, but this one has struck way too close to home. This move may work for the majority of ‘stylish women’, but from this slightly over-weight diva, my only words are shame on your Baileys. Shame on you big-time.

If everyone caredNickelback