One of the things that I miss most about being in college (other than sleeping until the crack of dusk and swapping body fluids with complete strangers) is drinking games. I love drinking games; love everything about them. They’re fun, they get you drunk, and they slap a smiley-face on what is essentially an extremely stupid endeavor. “What’s that? You want to binge on a toxic substance that will damage our livers, impair our judgement, and greatly increase the odds of developing a long term, debilitating chemical dependency? Count me in! Hey! We can make a game out of it!” I find this very amusing. I’m not sure why, but something about extreme idiocy appeals to me. I love the idea that our species is capable of exploring the stars, unraveling the inner workings of the atom, and decoding the genetic code that defines us all, yet we still have to go out of our way to tell the best and brightest of each generation that drinking whiskey until you vomit blood is a bad idea.
Because, make no mistake about it, drinking games are a very bad idea. You can’t take something stupid and make it not stupid by adding dice to it. Walking through a mine field is stupid. Playing twister in a mine field may be entertaining (especially if Justin Bieber is one of the contestants), but it’s still stupid. I have seen more stupid behavior during the course of a drinking game than I could write down even if I lived to be 400. “Hahaha! Hey, check it out! Lance is passed out! Hahahaha!” Yes, he’s in a coma now. Hilarious.
But holy shit, drinking games sure are fun. And if I was 20 years younger and you handed me a Twister mat, I’d ask you where the nearest mine field was without hesitation. The drinking game I probably played the most in college was called Mexican. It was a bluffing game played with a cup and two dice. The general idea was that you had to beat the score of the person who handed the dice to you, and you could bluff. I was a Hall of Fame caliber Mexican player because I mastered a move that I like to call “Faux Inebriation”.
Me: Ummm, 61. Wait! Wait! Wait! What did I have to beat?
Other Person: 64.
Me: Oh, shit! Hahaha. Ok, uhhh, 65. God, I’m blasted.
Other person: Haha, I’m going to call bullshit on that. (Picks up cup, sees a 65.) What the…?!?
Me: Drink, motherfucker.
I was notorious for the extreme liver-beatings I’d administer to new players. One time, in my friend Lance‘s room, a rousing game of Mexican was in progress when I walked in. “Oh, perfect!” said Lance as he pulled a chair up to the makeshift table. “Here, Greg, you sit right next to Carly. We’re playing Mexican.” He said this with a look on his face that clearly said, “Let her have it.” And so I did, using every trick in my book to get her to drink.
Finally, after an awful lot of drinks, Carly wobbled in her chair and said, “Hey, do you mind if I go to the bathroom?”
“Don’t let me stop you,” was Lance’s reply.
We then noticed that Carly wasn’t getting up. It took a split second before we realized that the dreamy, faraway look on her face wasn’t entirely from all the beer she’d just consumed: She was letting it fly right there in the middle of the room. (Lance threw the soiled chair and carpet out the window. Carly was allowed to leave via the door.)
Another standby was the game Quarters, which as everyone knows, involves bouncing a quarter into a cup full of beer and then watching as someone drinks the beer to see if they’ve got a trip to the E/R in their immediate future. “Why am I here? Uhhh, I swallowed four bucks in change last night.” There were also variants of Quarters, which changed the number of cups, the penalties for putting a quarter in the wrong cup,. etc. We played Classic Quarters, Carousel Quarters, Ski-Jumping Quarters, Suicide Quarters, and Double or Nothing Quarters, which allowed you to gamble drinks until you found yourself saying something totally asinine like, “Hahaha, you lose! Now you have to drink 128 beers!”
One time we were playing Carousel Quarters in a bar, and one of my friends drank too much, too fast and threw up, getting himself 86’d immediately. He went home, changed his shirt, parted his hair on the opposite side and came back to the bar.
Bouncer: Hey! I bounced your ass a half an hour ago!
Me: Oh, shit, I forgot to tell you. Your brother got 86’d for throwing up before you got here.
Friend: Hahaha, that sounds like something he’d do.
Me: Yeah, that was his twin brother. Here, show him your ID.
And because the bouncer wasn’t known for his high-level analytic skills, he accepted the ID as some sort of proof that a fictional twin brother did, in fact, exist; an illusion that lasted until my friend threw up again 20 minutes later, another victim of Carousel Quarters.
Another friend of mine used to boast of his skill in quarters until the day that he got so drunk playing it that he didn’t notice that his opponents had a) Switched his beer with hard liquor; and b) Were dropping the quarter directly into the glass before ordering him to drink. An hour later, we found my friend out cold, pants around his ankles, in a bathroom that looked like it had been the site of a disastrous experiment involving tequila and chimpanzees.
(I was not immune to this kind of drunken buffoonery: After a game of Quarters involving Everclear, I had the worst hangover I’ve ever experienced in my life; a brain-scorching two day affair during which I silently and repeatedly wished for the universe to come to a swift and merciful end.)
We also liked to play a game called Zoom, which relied on clear diction and the ability to follow a set of intricate and arcane rules. As you can imagine, the drunker you became, the more drunk you were forced to become, and thus ensued a great downward spiral of alcoholism and hilarity.
We even had a drinking game to get rid of people that we didn’t like to play drinking games with. It was called TEGWAR, which stood for The Endless Game Without Any Rules. When an unwanted player sat down at the table, you switched the game to TEGWAR. The new player was told that the game was a little complicated, but really fun, and everyone assured him that they’d explain the rules as the game progressed. We’d then proceed to make the rules up and engineer them so that the hapless asshole soon found himself doing the ol’ technicolor yawn in the bathroom.
Me: Ok, I have two 7’s, and 7’s are the highest card, so I’m going to give you two drinks.
Asshole: Ok. (drinks twice)
Me: Ok, next round…
Asshole: Hey! I have two 7’s! You drink, Greg!
Me: (lays down hand) Yes, but I have more black cards than red, and we all know what that means!
Table: Double Reversal!!!
Asshole: What? What the hell is that?
Me: Your two drinks are reversed and doubled. Drink 4 times.
We didn’t play this particular game often, but when we did it became a challenge to see how ridiculous you could make the rules without the other guy catching on. “Ok, my rook takes your ace of spades. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200, do 12 pushups and drink six times.”
Our zest for drinking games knew no bounds, and we found ourselves engaging in behavior which blurred the line between partying and hard-core alcoholism, and then threw up on it for good measure. For instance, we once invented a game called Smurf, which had the following rules:
- Watch an episode of the Smurfs
- Every time someone uses the word “smurf” or any variant thereof (“smurfy”, “smurfing”, “smurfalicious”, etc.) you drink.
We played this once, and I’d tell you how it went, except I honestly don’t remember.
But the best drinking game I’ve ever had the pleasure to play was Dizzy Izzy. Dizzy Izzy is the most fun you’re allowed to have with your pants on, and if you played a coed game of Dizzy Izzy in the nude, you would experience a Fun Black Hole, in which so much fun was had that no fun could ever escape. You’d essentially be having All The Fun, and rightfully so because Dizzy Izzy is fucking awesome.
Here’s how you play:
You’ll Need: 10 players, a wide open space (such as the fairway on a golf course), two baseball bats, a lot of beer, directions to the nearest emergency room, and a wanton disregard for the laws of Euclidian geometry.
You can play with less than 10 players, but not much less. Play by yourself, and you will attract law enforcement and substance abuse counselors. You can play in areas not as wide open as a golf course, but you do so at your own peril.
Preparation: As the game relies on disorientation and impaired motor skills, you can’t play this game stone cold sober and get as much enjoyment out of it as you should. Likewise, you can’t be too intoxicated or you’ll wind up with 10 people sleeping it off on a golf course. You know the moment during a party when you all of a sudden realize that everyone has begun to speak VERY LOUDLY? That’s when you should start playing Dizzy Izzy.
You also need to set the two baseball bats 30 yards away from the starting line, and divide the players into two teams.
Game Play: The game is played in relay-race fashion. The first player on each team must slam an entire beer, run 30 yards to their baseball bat, place one end on the ground, the other end on their forehead, run 10 circles around the bat, then run back to the next person in line who repeats the process. Game play continues until everyone on one team has run three times, or someone suffers a compound fracture of the femur.
You should probably wear clothing that you don’t care about, as you will spend lots of time on the ground, or even in neighboring states because, as you will discover, the shortest path between two points is no longer a straight line. Straight lines go right out the fucking window when you’re playing Dizzy Izzy.
One time, playing with roommates in the back yard of a house I lived in, I heard a roommate say this after his turn:
Wow, that house came out of fucking nowhere!
Which sums up Dizzy Izzy nicely. I once watched two players reeling wildly across opposite sides of a fairway in the middle of the night and remarked to a friend, “Watch this. They’re going to run into each other face first.” And sure enough, as if drawn together by some irresistible force, BLAMMO! Random encounters with solid objects go up 7 billion percent while playing Dizzy Izzy, which is why you need to play it drunk: Your muscles go limp, making injuries less likely.
I do remember a friend getting hurt playing Dizzy Izzy. “My fucking ribs are killing me from playing that goddamn game,” he told me.
“From when you ran into the bushes?”
“No, from laughing so hard. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard in my life.”
That says everything you need to know about Dizzy Izzy.
Older and allegedly wiser, drinking games no longer play a role in my life. This is a shame. But even if I had a liver of a man half my age, it would be hard to recapture the magic. Standing up in the middle of a post-work happy hour and loudly asking, “Hey, who wants to play Asshole?” isn’t the kind of thing that fast-tracks your career anywhere except the unemployment line.
But some time in the future, I will approach the point where I no longer give a fuck. I’ll probably be an old man, sipping a beer on my porch, yelling at kids to get off of the goddamn lawn, and I’ll decide that since I don’t have much time left, I may as well do a few things one last time.
And that’s when you’ll see me, headed down to the golf course with a bunch of friends and a golf bag full of baseball bats. And sure, I’ll probably break my hip. But it’ll be better than blowing my foot off playing Twister.