Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Licence to drink

Campbell Live had a piece just now on the bid to raise the drinking age back to 20. Part One featured Matt Robson and some other dude (my TV set picks up more cosmic waves than TV3 signal) using the usual buzzwords of 'magic bullet' and 'we're doing it for their safety.' One of them happened to let slip where their brains were aimed; namely "Drinking Licences". Evidentally, alcohol is so incredibly dangerous that people should have to get permission from yet another Kafka-clerk.

I was stunned when no-one laughed out loud on camera. That's one hell of a punchline.

It brought to mind queues of teenagers cramming for their oral drinking test. Perhaps drinking could become another NZQA teriary course. I reckon the Wananga would be keen to teach it. Captain Sensible and Winston P could retire from politics and get tenure coaching Masters students.

But back here on Earth, and if the idea was seriously raised, I hope it gets shat out of the Health select committee from a great height. Back in the Eighteenth Century, Rousseau said "Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains." Here we are, two centuries on and still welding chains like a piercing fetishist.

Part Two of the Campbell Live story knocked what little stuffing there was in the old geezer's theory by featuring some underage teenagers. Can you get alcohol, even though you're under 18? Well, duh. Have you ever thrown up from drinking? Well, bleugh!! Will raising the limit make a difference?

Opinion was divided on this point. The two guys said no. The girl said no also, but thought it was a good idea anyway. She lost all credibility shortly thereafter by saying she doesn't/can't drink. If there's nothing worse than two hypocrites, it's a wowzer.

For the record, I grew up when 20 was the drinking age. I had my first beer when I was five, the first glass of wine at 8. By the age of fifteen, I drank when I wanted and could afford it, biking to the liquor store after school to pick up some beers. Vodka was for weekends. Coincidentally, it was the same year I first got horrendously smashed.

By 18, me and my mates were off to the pub or nightclubs, knocking back Ouzo and raspberry lemonade like it was cool. Growing up in Palmy, there's fuck all else to do for fun. You made your own fun, and alcohol was a great catalyst.

We picked no fights, we caused no trouble. To my knowledge no-one got pregnant nor was blamed for one. But we still got hammered, trolleyed, spannered, ripped, jiggered, mullacked, trashed, pissed, rat-arsed, toasted, baked, and steamed.

Just like you did when you were a teenager.

Oh yeah, a few do get into trouble. Let's help them if the lessons get too hard and they want help. But don't spoil it for the rest of us. As Tom Waits once noted, "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."