Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Third World Inebriate

In the pursuit of exhilaration, some folks like to gamble. Others may like to take to the woods and taunt animals with high caliber weapons. Then there are the people who just can not entertain themselves unless their recreational endeavors carry the possibility of severe personal injury or death. These are the types of individuals who get their thrills by engaging in mountain climbing, sky-diving or marriage. In my personal opinion however, if you are a person seeking the highest level of adrenaline ecstasy, few things can match the charge you get by embarking upon a brutal booze bender in a Third World nation.

Now anyone can buy a ticket to the Dominican Republic and spend a week sipping Margaritas on the beach at a Sandals resort, but it takes a special breed of drunkard that will feel comfortable getting positively pie-eyed in the red light districts of Santo Domingo then brave an illegal border crossing while avoiding UN military peacekeepers, marauding bands of brigands and zombie-generating voodoo witch doctors just to consummate a promised tryst with a Haitian chamber maid in Port-au-Prince. This particular type of bacchanalian is called the Third World Inebriate.

So what makes the Third World Inebriate different than the common lush? Well, there are several things. First off, the common lush usually prefers to drink in a familiar environment and is a creature of routine. You can usually find him sucking down shells of a cheap domestic at his local dive bar, doing shots of low-quality vodka in his living room or guzzling a four dollar bottle of ripple next to a garbage dumpster behind a neighborhood Applebee’s restaurant. The Third World Inebriate is quickly bored by repetition and if his chosen establishment is not the scene of a drug deal gone bloodily awry or offers a front row view of the ruling junta being thrown out of office by an ambitious military upstart, he will usually try to find a more happening venue to go get tanked in.

Another difference between the common lush and the Third World Inebriate is the company he keeps. The lush is most likely to find himself drinking with a former high school football hero turned factory janitor, a retired welder trying to suppress the memory of his fifth failed marriage, an unemployed biker contemplating a career change into the potentially lucrative field of methamphetamine distribution and a married hairdresser seeking to delay the realization that she is about to become a grandmother by seducing the bartender. The Third World Inebriate will likely be sharing his table with a couple of heartbreakingly beautiful bargirls, a former French Foreign Legionnaire, a couple of local longshoreman who occasionally moonlight as high-seas pirates, some British military contractors spoiling for a fight with the table full of Australian sailors across the bar and the madam of the establishment who looks and awful lot like an Asian version of Marilyn Monroe, if the comparison had been done several months post-mortem (bar girls typically do not age very well).

To further distinguish the Third World Inebriate from the common lush, one should look beyond the company they keep and explore the company that they kept. Under the best of circumstances, the common lush might wake up face-to-face with the matronly hairdresser who struck out with the bartender at closing time and decided to go home with someone too drunk to be turned off by breath that reeked of Newport cigarettes, stale Buffalo wings and fermented vomit. Under the worst of circumstances, the lush may have found himself waking up in the bed of the unemployed biker and, discovering that he has been handcuffed to the headboard, unable to escape before anyone finds out.

The Third World Inebriate on the other hand, is more likely to crack his eyes open at sunrise and smell the fresh Pacific breeze rolling in off of Pattaya Beach through the silken jet black hair of a Siamese nymphette that did things to him that he could not possibly have imagined, despite possessing a highly overactive imagination. He will have a memory he will cherish for the rest of his life, even if he has forgotten the nymphette’s name by lunch, which he probably did considering that it is highly unlikely that he could pronounce it correctly even when he did know it.

The rewards of being a Third World Inebriate are immeasurable and though becoming a black belt in the art requires an irrepressible sense of adventure, a Kryptonite liver and years upon years of training, the experience gained in the process will equip one with a repertoire of anecdotes that can entertain his grandchildren for years to come.

Of course, there are few that possess the character traits (or flaws, depending upon your perspective) to make it as a Third World Inebriate. Even among those that do, many try to advance too far in the field too fast and see their promising rise obliterated by inexperience. They find themselves driven insane by absinthe, killed by brigands, involuntarily caught up in the sexual slavery trade, enduring a lengthy incarceration in the Philippine penal system for not carrying an adequate amount of bribe money or maimed by a case of genital crabs the size of freakin’ tarantulas.

With a bit of patience, a lot of hard work and an experienced mentor however, one can not only survive in the field but thrive. The following are a few tips that will help one get started in the field if they so desire it:

1. Begin Your Training Early and Train Hard -Black belt Third World Inebriates start drinking very young in life. Rumor has it that by the age of 18 months Aussie Alcoholic Jacob Brees, known as “The Rake of Rangoon” among the expatriate community, had already figured out a way to disassemble his baby bottle and fit it over his father’s mug of Guinness Stout. Admittedly, Brees was sort of a prodigy (though many actually considered him an idiot savant because of his usual state of being too bombed to form a complete sentence or keep from drooling all over himself) and this level of natural talent alludes most of us mere mortals, but if you are going to succeed, you need to set the bar much higher than you think you can actually reach.

By the age of ten you should be plotting creative ways of getting your hands on intoxicating drink. It will most definitely take years for you to succeed but the improvisation skills you will gain in the process will prove invaluable later. If you haven’t succeeded by the time you are fourteen, you’d better stick to sipping Hot Totties with your Aunt Margaret. You just do not have what it takes.

By sixteen, you should have conquered tequila, able to do continuous shots long after your peers have passed out in puddles of their own puke. By eighteen, you should be able to pass a field sobriety drill despite the fact that the breathalyzer test registered a reading higher than the closing volume of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Then, and only then, will you be ready to take your show on the road.

2. When Considering Destinations, Start Off Easy - No matter how much talent a potential Third World Inebriate has, it would be suicide for him to think he could survive a week-long binge drinking session in Bangkok if he has never even left the city limits of Des Moines, Iowa. He should start off with a weekend road trip to a Six Flags park in another state. After that, he should consider visiting a foreign country that is relatively safe but where English is not spoken as a first language. Quebec serves this purpose well and has an added bonus of hosting a population that is just slightly less anti-American than the Taliban, but unless you fall in with the Montreal chapter of the Hell’s Angels it is far less violent which gives you room to err. This helps the average American temper any unrealized arrogance, which can be the kiss of death in a developing country. If you can not make it to Quebec, the exact same experience can be had in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Massachusetts.

If you want to start off in a location where people communicate in words you will not understand but will not dislike you because of your national origin, try the mountain regions of North Carolina or anywhere within 200 miles of the Mexican frontier. Just keep in mind that you are in the Bible Belt down there and take care that you do not end up trapped in a dry county without the proper provisions.

After you are comfortable drinking on the road, it is time to venture into the Third World. Tijuana, Mexico is the perfect place for the debutante drunk. The natives speak an unintelligible language, the average citizen lives in abject poverty, due to the burgeoning trade in illicit narcotics folks there are naturally distrustful and hostile to outsiders, there is a myriad of vices readily available for wanton indulgence and the law enforcement officials are shamelessly corrupt. If you live on the sunrise side of the United States however and the west coast is out of your range, Louisiana can serve as a near perfect substitute.

3. Choose a Geographic Area to Ply Your Expertise - Third World Inebriates usually focus upon a certain area of the globe. Some prefer to bounce around Latin America. The main advantage of specializing in this area is that by learning one or two different languages, one can effortlessly communicate with virtually an entire continent. Africa is mainly the domain of the European sub-culture of the Third World Inebriate and offers non-stop action in the form of incessant political violence, economic collapse and epidemic disease. Trust me, nothing brings out the party animal in people like civil strife and insurrection. Others prefer the Orient which has a decent mix of calamity though the deadly sexually transmitted diseases are a little better controlled.

Once you have picked an area, try to visit a relatively modern country there to get a feel for the place. South Africa is the closest one can find to this on the Dark Continent. Costa Rica, Argentina or Chile will do in Latin America and in Asia, Japan is the obvious destination. This will allow you to get your feet wet in a place where the consequences of letting your guard down are not so dire. Truth be told though, letting your guard down in South Africa can still rather easily result in you being robbed, beaten, murdered or sentenced to a slow death by an acquired auto-immune disorder. Why Europeans gravitate to this place mystifies me almost as much as the fascination the French have with Jerry Lewis.

4. Learn the Essential Phrases in the Language of the Land You Are Visiting - Though it is true that English is spoken across the globe, your ability to communicate with people in their native tongue will separate the Third World Inebriate from the common tourist that is ripe for fleecing. In some areas it may also prove crucial to ensuring that you remain properly lubricated. Before you set foot in a foreign land you should be able to say the following in the local lexicon:

1. Can I have two beers please?
2. Do you want to dance?
3. No, I am Canadian. Really.
4. I am not the only one who threw up in the aquarium. Why should I be the only one that pays for it?
5. You have really beautiful eyes.
6. Are you sure you are not a transvestite?
7. ‘Cause I’m pretty sure that’s an Adam’s apple you’re sporting unless you’re choking on the cork to the champagne bottle.
8. How much is it going to cost to get me out of this?
9. Will you marry me?
10. Would you please make sure that the German Shepherd is cooked well done? The last time I ate here I came down with a vicious case of canine distemper.

A Third World Inebriate should also be able to communicate his basest, most disgusting sexual desires to the woman seated next him at the bar. If she has any shred of decency about her, she will try to break his nose and claw his eyes out before storming out of the bar in huff. This is perfectly fine, because the last thing he wants to do when overseas is waste valuable time and money buying drinks for a woman possessing a code of sexual morality straight out of Victorian England. The Third World Inebriate will usually seek out a woman who will hang on every rank suggestion he makes and then, after hearing it all in its dankest glory, will smile coyly at him and say, “That might cost you a little bit extra.”

5. Take a Geography Lesson - Americans generally have a poor grasp of the world around them and, if you are planning upon taking on the lifestyle of a Third World Inebriate, you had better have an idea of where you are going. You do not necessarily have to know that Riyadh is the capitol of Saudi Arabia. You had damn well better know however that it is located in the middle of a desert, presides over the largest dry county on the planet and is inhabited by short-tempered religious fanatics that are capable of murdering you just for casting a side-long glance at one of their women. If that sounds like your idea of a good time, you might be better off just buying a Winnebago and taking a long trip to Utah.

These five tips may prove somewhat less than exhaustive, but they are more than enough to get your average lush larvae started. After a few months of crawling through jungles, over open sewage ditches and into the back doors of nightclubs you have been repeatedly banned from in search of a good time, you will be able to judge the quality of a country’s nightlife solely by the types of side arms the police carry as well. But why should you? What exactly is the draw of this sort of lifestyle? What drives a person to spend years of his life bar brawling his way across the developing world?

Well, it’s hard to say. What I can tell you is that no matter how elaborate your living room’s sound system is, it just can not do justice to the audio assault that is the Rappongi district of Tokyo at three in the morning. And even though Sally Struthers is without equal at tugging at your heartstrings on behalf of the world’s hungry children, you have to walk through a shanty town built atop a Philippine garbage dump to get the full effect. You can watch the file footage of a student protest turned brutally violent in Korea but you will probably forget it before the next commercial break. If you have a tear gas grenade bounce off of your bare ass while you are mooning the riot police however, every aspect of that event will be seared into your memory, as well as your posterior since those things can get pretty damned hot, until the day you die. With equal lucidity, I can recall the acrid odor of the smog in Hong Kong though I lost my sense of smell in 1993. I know what the bare knuckles of a British Royal Marine feel like when they are smashed across your left cheek during a pick-up rugby game in Singapore. I know what a duck egg tastes like after it has been hard-boiled just as it was ready to hatch and then left to ferment. I can also instantly recall the flavor of live shrimp, Yakisoba, yakitori chicken and Kirin beer separately going down as well as all combined together when they were on their way back up.

Many of those sensations were rather unpleasant and are not things that I am yearning to rush out and experience again, but all are remembered quite fondly now. Nothing sweetens a sour memory like the satisfaction of knowing that you had the courage to strike out on your own and brave the hazards that you had to in order to experience the things you did, even if the source of your courage was 150 proof. And if this can turn a bad recollection good, what it does to a great memory absolutely defies description.

Also, when you reach your late thirties, have been married a few years, had a few kids and acquired a sizeable mortgage, thinking of all the recklessness you survived in your youth takes a lot of the edge off of realization that you’re actually kind of a pathetic wimp now that you’ve sobered up.

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