No love for drunkards

This afternoon, I passed a billboard along the highway that read,

“Friends don’t let friends walk drunk,”

beside a from-behind picture of woman walking as someone reaches for her.

While I believe this sentiment comes from a good place, it brings up an interesting question: is the campaign against drinking in this country getting a little ridiculous?

To start, let’s consider the goal of the “friends don’t let friends walk drunk” regime by contemplating the best ways for folks to get around when they’ve had too much to drink. (Let’s throw out the “no drinking to begin with” idea. That’s as stupid as teaching abstinence in schools.)

If you’re thinking what you probably think I’m thinking, you’re wrong. I used to think riding a bicycle was the best way for a drunken person to get around, but then I wrote a column the week of New Year’s one time and there was an enormous backlash from the community. I had nasty voice mails, snarky e-mails and was the subject of several condescending letters to the editor. The argument was valid: a drunken cyclist can cause a fatal car accident if he or she, in all of his or her belligerence, suddenly bolts in front of traffic on a busy street.

So rule out drunken cycling … and drunken driving, for obvious reasons, while we’re at it.

To an outsider and those who prefer not to think about things, designating a driver or calling a cab is the best way for a drunk to get home. Wrong again, folks. While these methods work well in theory, they’re not always reliable. Designated drivers occasionally become drunken drivers; taxi services become swamped and cease to exist when the bars close; friends and family members don’t always answer the phone at 2:30 in the morning … and if they do, it’s unlikely they’ll permit the puke-scented skank you picked up at the Rusty Nail inside their car. The result is folks driving home intoxicated because plans fell through.

What other ways are there to get home from a bar? Horseback? Wheelchair? Lawnmower? Wheelbarrow? While one can do some of these legally, none come without risk … as does drunken walking.

But until today, I had no clue anyone had gone so far as to launch a campaign against drunken walking. (It might have something to do with this guy getting his leg ripped off by a train over the weekend.)

THIS IS GETTING SILLY, folks. Really, truly, silly.

At what point do we stop living in fear that a piano being transported by plane is going to fall from the sky and crush us on the way into the grocery store? When are we going to stop imagining these terrible, hypothetical and wildly unlikely circumstances and spending money to “prevent” them?

Because if you take away a person’s right to walk drunken, in many cases, you take away his or her right to drink anywhere except at home. Sure there are situations where there’s a “guaranteed” ride home – Pa, for instance, can safely get hammered at cousin Jimmy’s wedding because Ma can drive him home because she’s pregnant with child No. 6 and doesn’t plan to drink. But college students? Men on their way home from work? Girls at a bachelorette party? Forget about it. If you can’t even walk home, you can’t get home after a night of boozing.

(Oh, and those “wine walks” they love to have around here to feel sophisticated? What happens to them, hmm?)

NOW, I DO NOT drink. With all the time I spend going to church, baking cookies for savage barbarians our church’s missionaries plan to save and highlighting verses in my Bible while I watch “The 700 Club” beneath a crocheted afghan, there really isn’t enough time for that kind of thing.

Okay, okay. I’m just joking. I do drink and actually think church is stupid. However, it’s been a really long time since I’ve been intoxicated – that’s the most shameful part of this discussion for me. So perhaps I’m not the best person to be leading this chat.

But I did go to college on the beach. More than once in a given week, I … never mind. We’ll just say I have extensive experience with extensive drinking and transportation problems that come from it. The solution was almost always walking. And we were almost always surrounded by others who made the same choice.

In life, there will always be the chance of a piano falling out of a plane and crushing you to death. Later, folks could make the argument you’d still be alive if that asshole family hadn’t made the decision to transport their piano by airplane, then launch a Mothers Against Pianos in the Sky group affectionately known as “MAPS.”

There will always be the chance of a drunk stumbling into the roadway, causing a tractor-trailer to swerve into oncoming traffic, causing unnecessary death. Later, folks could make the argument that wouldn’t have happened had the drunk driven home ridden his or her bike home called a cab asked a friend for a ride home drank at home, then launch a Mothers Against Drunk Elephants (the acronym sounds better than MADW).

But is that something for which we really want to ask?

I’d like some feedback on this one, folks. Send an e-mail; post a comment. Do you think the anti-drinking sentiments of this country are getting out of hand? If so, what might be a better way to address this issue, such as more education and less scrutiny for youngsters?

Share your thoughts – I promise to do absolutely nothing with them!

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One Response to No love for drunkards

  1. Sandy Fluent says:

    Many years ago, when I was doing some ambulance work for my community, I was called to an accident that involved an intoxicated bicyclist and a mailbox. He was arrested for DWI – amazed me. But, if he had been walking, the mailbox probably would’ve survived.

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