Maybe I should be humbled and silenced by the knowledge that in the time I've been in Knoxville, my alma mater, the University of Virginia, has taken a nose dive among wild inebriation institutions, while the University of Tennessee has barged its way up to 18 in the most recent U.S. News and World Report "party school" standings.
Nah, I still gotta say it: Be that as it may, you people stink at drinking games.
In fact, I'm pretty sure no one in this area even knows what one is. Like, the "game" part. At UVA, at dorm and fraternity parties, we played quarters, trying to tiddlywink the heavy coins into shot glasses of beer that our opponent then had to drink. We played beer pong. And Thumper, where missing a fast-paced hand-signal also meant a drinking penalty. And "evening in" versions—each adopting the name of a character on Cheers, for example, and having to drink each time they appeared.
You'll notice something here if you follow what I'm saying carefully. In our drinking "games," we did not all drink at the same time. It was a game. Some excelled, some fell behind, some got pouty and quit. Or literally could not play any more. But it was fun, meant to inspire rivalries and show off such braggable skills as "quickest Thumper hand motions." And people would imbibe varying amounts of a beverage. When you started doing poorly, thus drinking too much, you stopped playing and presumably someone who'd done better in the proceedings had drunk less, and could see you home. (Disclaimer and caveat: We were a walking society at UVA, no one was driving after these games. And the legal drinking age was 18.)
Here though, wow. No one gets it. Having my typical big ears on one night at a local bar's poker game, I was fascinated to overhear that one of my grad-school-age friends had been in a drinking game. Yep, with South Park. They took a shot every time someone peed in public or said a certain nasty phrase. Everyone? Yep.
Where's the sport in that? I assumed it was just an aberration, but, no. I've been asking around for a couple of years now, and every so-called drinking game I turned up was cooperative, kind of a Montessori-style drinking game. We all drink every time... the Braves get a hit, the WSOP player on television bluffs, the clock strikes the half hour. Even the Metro Pulse entertainment editor, Matthew Everett, who's from around here and I assure you knows his way around a pint mug, didn't know any good games. He wanted, he said, to try this one at a baseball game if he gets the chance. You drink a beer—or was it a shot?—every inning. Everyone? Yep. I did not jump up and down, but for crying out loud, THAT IS NOT A GAME!! It's a schedule, a boxing round bell, a drinking coach...
I'll never be sure why the ET party crowd is one with the idea of combative drinking, but not with making it into a game. Maybe we're so new to the party school concept, with the residual Southern bias against alcohol, that we want someone to command us: Drink, now. Drink again! Could be I'm just immature, but game-games seem so much more fun.
I don't really think there's much hope for a mass transformation of Knoxville's drinking crowd; they'll never replace en masse chugging with the widespread strategizing and treachery involved in competitive drinking games. But just in case anyone would like to move a little further in that direction, I'd like to present three drinking games that are, you know, games. With winners, losers, and also-rans. A little thought involved. And much sarcastic fun.
Forbidden Phrase: Counter clichés with slurred speech
Who would imagine a baby shower standard would translate so well to drinking fun? At the baby shower, you try to get other people to say "baby" and then you capture some sort of prize if you're the last one standing. With "Forbidden Phrase," you do the same, only you choose a phrase that's become hackneyed in your circle, and make whoever says it drink up per infraction.
The game, because there has to be a game involved or I'll get unhappy, is trying to lead people down a conversational path where they'll forget and say what they ought not. The choice of phrase is up to you, but here are some starter ideas:
If your group is:
Conservative/libertarian, er, "freedom lovers": drink every time you say "conspiracy" or "agenda" or "Obamacare"
Foodies: drink on the mention of "pairing," "biscuit," or "Benton's bacon"
Hippies: drink if you say "sustainable," "free range" or "tea party"
Vols: make someone say "Go Vols" and they drink
Most anyone from East Tennessee: It's almost too easy, "Bless your (his, her, their) heart"
Never, Ever Have I Ever...
This game, with its shades of Truth or Dare, is an old favorite from the high school marching band bus, but now it's tied to drinking. What you do is make a "Never, Ever, have I ever" statement when it's your turn. Anyone who disagrees must drink, so you can break the ice, reduce your inhibitions, and make your friends excruciatingly uncomfortable when you see them the next day, all at once. Neat-o strategy here is that you drink too if the statement's not true for you either... If you don't already have stock statements about sexual escapades to work with, here are some suggestions to start with. The first ones are particularly appropriate if you're new to Knoxville and trying to get everyone else tipsy, or want most everyone to drink every turn, as is the custom in these parts (see previous page for a rant on this very topic):
Never, ever, have I ever...
... added more salt to fast food
... eaten Adderall from someone else's prescription
... recycled a water bottle
... driven to my own mailbox
... attended church services and a poker game on the same day
... gotten a red light camera ticket
... changed my Facebook status from "in a relationship" to "single" and then to "it's complicated" within a 24-hour period
... added more sugar to sweet tea served at a restaurant
... worn clothes with progressively lower cleavage in the final days of a male professor's class when my grade was borderline
... lost a perfectly good Hope scholarship in favor of sleeping in
... had to take a personal day to grieve when the Vols lost a critical game
... realized the day after a drinking game the term "booty call" applies to me
Knox-boo, or Snafoo
Don't say it...
The rules for this are disturbingly similar to those for the heavily trademarked Taboo, which is purely coincidental, Mr. Big Shot Attorney Type. In MY game, you have 15 seconds to get your team to guess the word at the top of the card without using any of the words printed below it, or any form of those words (so no "dumbass" if the forbidden clue is "smartass," for example). If your team doesn't get it in time, you all drink. If you say one of the words while you're trying to get them to guess, you drink. Pretty simple.
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