Where I’m from
Alcohol is a big part of youth culture in the Etats, but it is so profoundly repressed and fucked up that it almost makes me wish I grew up here. In Ohio we used to spend like 4 hours finageling booze via fake ID or Chris’ brother and all of 4 minutes consuming it in someone’s basement or garage. Then you try to walk a straight line into the football game, past the PTA and the cops lining the fence. The drinking age is so stupid and restrictive that I had no idea what responsible drinking was until I left. I can actually have a beer with dinner and digest my food? Who knew. American kids grow up with no social or cultural context for alcohol. We just end up binge drinking and lying and wrapped around telephone poles. And binge drinking sucks. Natural Light is a foul and hideous brew and no one should have six of them in a row. However, it’s not like you can go to a restaurant and get buzzed with friends. That is, until you’ve left the suburbs and served three tours in Iraq. Then you’re old enough to order a fucking Amstel Light. In contrast, I went to a high school party this weekend and the kid passing the bowl was there with his mom. And that’s how it should be.
I went to see the parents, but I think I was actually closer to the ‘kids’ age. They’re all wearing white trainers and jeans like me, except I took my shoes off at the door. I’m wearing Amma’s socks and I feel a little uncool. The socks are covered in grey checks and little white geckos. Talk to Ashton Kutcher and his maternal date for a while. The International School kids are so much cooler than I ever was. The brown kids I knew in school had thick glasses and smelled funny. The bar is a little higher here.
As an observer, however, this is so much better than the parties I went to in high school. For one thing there’s food, and the house is clean. In the burbs the only prerequisite is that the house is empty. You might be able to steal some Pizza Pockets from the freezer before the drunken host yells at you, but that’s about it. Here there’s an open bar with, like, bartenders. In high school what I drank was, in order,
1. Kamkatcha Vodka – also sold as paint thinner
2. Natural Light – tastes like water after two cans
3. Absolut Vodka – cause the ads are good
4. Pabst Blue Ribbon – what people with food stamps buy
5. Bud Light – if you’re feeling classy
The only mixed drink you can make in an empty house is a Screwdriver. It is an acidic puke tickler and to this day I cannot stomach orange juice. In SL, howevs, you can get a scotch and soda or something civilized. Beyond the booze, though, what I most appreciate is that young people don’t get treated like idiots here. Half of the people I know online end up being teenagers and the average age of the iTimes writers is -7. They (I?) often do better work than most of the older people I know, and they’re about as worldly-wise as you can get.
What I found most repulsive about being young in the states was that it was fully OK to discriminate and treat me like a second class citizen. I still have to fill out my fucking draft card to get college loans and I still have to bus these tables all night, but I can’t go out with the staff after work. I couldn’t even sit in the bar across the street cause it was illegal. It’s just insulting and petty.
The Sri Lankan government, by virtue of incompetence, treats its young people pretty much the same as everybody else. I’m not even clear what the real drinking age is. And the culture is also different. Your uncles start offering you booze as soon as you can see above the liquor cabinet. Not cause they’re delinquent, but cause they understand that you’re not retarded. I think this is so much better than a culture that acts like kids are going to be sober virgins till they’re 21. In America it’s the drunk leading the drunk without an adult role model in site. The closest thing I got to advice was ‘chug, chug, chug’.