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This Explains My Social Life

11 Nov

The Long Island. Chock full of vitamins G, V, T, and R (Gin, Vodka, Tequila, and Rum).

Mmm, drinking. Such a wonderful pastime for those of all age groups and ethnic backgrounds. Everyone and their mother gets down on the sauce, for varied reasons (my apologies ahead of time for those teetotalers who could become offended at my lack of sensitivity for those who are actually struggling with alcoholism and not just taking one too many shots of Jager at a party).  When I saw a recent piece on drinking in The Week, I had a eureka-like moment.  The article poses the question, “Why do smart kids grow up to be heavier drinkers?” All at once, I had a new justification for my gin-soaked social life.

I don’t want to sound like a total asshole, but being smart is hard. I know that sounds completely asshole-like, but for some people, being smart from a young age is a completely burdensome experience.  When you’re a little kid who understands much more about the world than any adult would deign to tell you, your imagination becomes a refuge for the endless thoughts and feelings running through your little, under-developed mind. Plus, you’re probably getting teased a lot by dumb children, which sucks a lot.

The Week poses three theories to explain why it is that recent studies show that “more intelligent children in both studies grew up to drink alcohol more frequently and in greater quantities than less intelligent children”:

1. Evolution: ‘Smart people are generally early adopters and, in the context of human history, “the substance [alcohol] and the method of consumption are both evolutionarily novel.”

Awesome! I can now justify my ability to hold my liquor with science.

2. Alcohol makes up for boring early years: Joanne Hinkel of The Frisky had this to say: “All that studying in childhood repressed kids so much that they’re still trying to compensate well into adulthood for all that fun they missed.”

I could not agree more with this theory. I went to a college that is not considered “fun” by normal standards, and I spent the majority of my nights slaving over papers about Victorian poetry in the library. At least I can now celebrate the fact that I chose to get an English degree with endless Long Island Iced Teas.

3. Drinking is the only way to deal with morons: Greg, of Food & Wine Blog, says that a few drinks allow a smart person to “relax a bit, stop being so anal with semantics and let comments slide a bit.”

This is also true. I find that people with whom I would never be inclined to interact with are much more endearing when I’m drunk. Then I sober up a little and wonder why the fuck I thought it was a good idea to have an hour-long conversation with Mike, the local UPS delivery man with wandering hands. It can also be said that more intelligent people drink simply to turn off their minds for a little while. When you’re a smart person, you tend to over-analyze EVERY. LITTLE. DETAIL. Drinking helps to turn off your mind for a while, relieving you of the burden it is to have to think about all of your problems and then some.

I do think there is one more explanation for why smarter kids grow up to become heavier drinkers: emotional sensitivity.  I read somewhere that smarter people are more in tune with the suffering of others, making them particularly emotionally fragile. One commenter on The Week offered, “a study of genius-level children a few years ago found them acutely and painfully attuned to the suffering in the world, feeling a personal responsibility to help. It may be that they need to dull some of their sensitivities to survive.” Hmm. I suppose there is more to my love of bar-hopping, after all.

Bottoms up!