Thursday, March 22, 2012

Beer Pong Life Lessons

There are some holidays that need to be celebrated in specific places in order for you to experience them to their fullest degree. Mardi Gras in New Orleans. New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Carnaval in Rio.
Beer from a pub near Fenway Park. Glad it was so dimly lit that I couldn't see how radioactive this looks.

I think it’s safe to add to that list St. Patrick’s Day in Boston, where people of Irish descent make up the largest ethnic group. Until this past weekend, I hadn’t really witnessed St. Patty’s in this city because it’s always fallen during mid-terms while I was in grad school, and I am nothing if not a serious academic (Dad, I can hear you laughing all the way from Texas.)

The only notable SPD I'd had was duringmy senior year of college when I went to Dublin with a couple of friends. The day started with us watching the family-friendly parade and ended with us tagging along with a group of Spaniards we’d met on the street to a random club. (This is also known as the #1 way to get Taken, except that we wouldn’t have had Liam Neeson come to dropkick some European gangsters). We drank Guinness and Bailey’s, got down to beat-heavy house music, and met a host of international characters,including an Algerian whose first words to us were, “Hello, I used to be gay…

At the SPD parade in Dublin
While this all sounds fairly exciting on paper, Dublin itself wasn’t as crazy as we thought it would be. It wasn’t until after we got back that we realized that St. Patrick’s Day, much like Cinco De Mayo, is in actuality just an excuse for Americans to get fall-on-your-face daytime drunk.

This year, my friends and I toyed with the idea of going on a pub crawl on Saturday. However, after seeing firsthand a drunken rendition of Sweet Caroline and spending two hours at a pub screaming to make ourselves audible to someone 6 inches away, we decided to retreat to a quiet apartment and celebrate SPD with another time-honored American tradition: beer pong.

I didn’t play much in college, as most of my friendswere more into flip cup. I guess this makes sense since it’s a more efficient/dangerous game than beer pong in that is allows more participants, requires less skills, and has a quicker turnover rate.

But I’m starting to see the merits in beer pong. In fact, it’s not too far of a stretch to say that it’s helped me learn some important life lessons.

“…Life lessons? Really?” you ask incredulously. I get why you’re skeptical. Beer pong somehow simultaneously legitimizes and trivializes binge drinking as a game and, when played irresponsibly, can lead to some pretty rough nights. But stick with me as I count down 6 nuggets of wisdom I gleaned from something that seemingly has no redeeming qualities.

6. Know what is at stake. As in many competitions, there may be a wager to make things a little more interesting. Sometimes what’s on the line is simply bragging rights; other times it may be a meal or a drink. One time I got bamboozled into baking cupcakes in exchange for my very willing opponents to drink my beer. (What’s that saying about a sucker being born every second?) During a particularly brutal game, my partner and I hit exactly 0 cups before losing, though, in my defense, it was the third or fourth game of an off night and I was drinking for the both of us. The consequence of getting blanked was my partner being forced to do anaked lap around the apartment in the dead of a Boston winter. (Don't worry, he's a dude and I think he may have been given small cardboard box, which I am sure was more than adequate for blocking out wind chills in the negatives.) Bottom line: Only risk what you can accept losing.

5. Choose your partner wisely. As illustrated in the lesson above, your well-being is inextricably dependent on who is standing nextto you. Pick someone who can’t contribute, brings a toxic energy, or is otherwise unsupportive, and your morale will be low while your drowning liver is shooting SOS flares and grasping onto a life vest for dear life. But if you choose someone who cheers you on when you make a clutch shot, tells you that they’re still on your side when you hit a slump, and is equally matched in skill and commitment, then you can’t be too upset no matter what the outcome.

4. Be aware of who your opponents are. Obviously you want to make sure that you’re not in over yourhead when you accept or extend a challenge. Know your adversaries’ abilities and game tactics. One of my friends stretches out his arms and shoulders before a game as if we were entering a weightlifting competition, while another friend has learned to get in the head of an opponent by bouncing the ball on the flooronce before giving it back. I’m not above a little Reggie Miller jawing myself, even though that cockiness is pretty much never justified.

3. Practice, practice, practice. This is the often-quoted advice given to people who are looking to improve just about any skill, and beer pong is no different. At this point, I realize that I am dangerously close to endorsing binge drinking as a sport. My lawyers have insisted that I assure you that I am not. Which leads me to…

2. Know your limits. Like we’ve said before, being that girl/guyis not a good look on anyone. Being aware of how you far you can go isimportant to keeping yourself safe, and more importantly, free of any embarrassing photos and videos that will surely be uploaded to Facebook and Twitter.

1. You have to aim for a specific cup. In the beginning, you really only need to shoot for red. There are times when a wild shot somehow makes its way in or you get a friendly bounce that knocks out two cups. But as the number of Solo cups whittles away, you can no longer settle for throwing at a general vicinity. If you want to win, you need to line yourself up with your target, take a deep breath, and remember tofollow through.

Of course, there is an appropriate time and place for BP shenanigans. It generally involves an apartment full of responsibility-free kids in their 20s because, let's face it, you don't wanna be the weird old guy hanging out with a bunch of kids in a frat house. But if you happen to be in this wonderful time and place and someone gives you judgin' eyes when you suggest a game of BP, just tell them that you're working on building character.


Me and Josh Mah. We guarantee victory against anyone out there. Bring it.

True or false: Mok's (pre-marriage) house once hosted a night of Wine Pong using the leftover wine from the previous week's Super Bowl party.

I think it was actually a housewarming party. But yes, true story.

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