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Before You Get Smashed 

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1 Drinking is fun. Being drunk not so much. See the line between the two? Blurry, isn't it? Put down the wine glass and get some water instead.

2. What's your tomorrow look like? Life is short — do you really want to give up a whole day to being a dehydrated, dark-circled, headachy wreck unable to spend more than 10 minutes vertical without wanting to: a) retch; b) pass out; c) flagellate yourself; d) all the above?

3. Who are you going to need to apologize to? Your long-suffering friends? That's not the end of the world. Your boss? Let's look at how often drunkenness equates with competence. Oh, right — never. Social bonding over a drink or two can be a lovely part of work life. Slurring, "As a matter of fact ..." and launching into a diatribe about how you really feel about that project will not enhance your standing. You know what's a fine option after the first couple drinks? A club soda with lemon. So refreshing! If you're the boss, you should already know better. If you're out at, say, an Arcata establishment, and you find yourself saying to your cute employee, "Oh, don't worry, it won't affect your job if you don't want to go out to dinner," that's not just bad form, but a potential lawsuit. You're cut off.

4. Are you up for those awkward morning-after calls? You know how sometimes you black out when you drink too much? And then you're trying to remember what happened? Did you use a condom? Did you get a name? Did you puke in someone's car? Again? So you find yourself dialing up a friend who was there and starting off with, "Hey, that was fun last night," then pausing to add, "...right?" On the upside, you might have an opportunity to practice gratitude — an action that is good for you, good for the world — because your friends will likely reassure you that it was fine, that you totally weren't an asshole at all, hey, we've all been there. Of course, maybe they're just being nice.

5. You might actually be an asshole. Some people are happy drunks. Some are belligerent ones. Some are having a fine time and really loving you, man, until something reminds them of that one time and that one thing and suddenly they — or let's be honest, you — wreck the mood by dredging up old offenses and refusing to shut up because at this point you are a brakeless train speeding hard for disaster with no hope of derailment. And even if you have a point, and you do, dammit, you're in no condition to discuss, this is not the time or place, and you're going to regret it even more when, in your crooked frame of mind, you reread the angry/sad/pathetic texts that you knew, deep down, were a bad idea even when you pressed send. If you weren't so drunk, you could've caught yourself. Now, not only have you, by default, lost the debate, but you also have to figure out how to atone. Because you're not actually an asshole. It's just that being so drunk makes you seem like one! But that's a distinction that ceases to matter at some point. Sorry.

BONUS: Save money! Drinking is expensive. In addition to protecting your health, reputation, self-esteem and righteous way of life, you'll save lots of dollars by learning the oft-unappreciated art of moderation. Yeah, it sounds boring — "moderation" — but save the extremes for the good stuff. Like sports. Or love.

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Jennifer Savage

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