When men get drunk they generally fall into one of three categories:
1. The belligerent drunk
2. The happy drunk
3. The sleepy drunk
The belligerent drunk is the most dangerous of these categories. Up until the point of his drunkenness he is a fully functioning human being, capable of rational thought and articulated speech. But once he reaches that one-drink-too-many point his whole personality changes and he becomes paranoid and argumentative. Everything that is said in his presence, no matter how innocuous or innocent, takes on an entirely different meaning as the alcohol in his system begins to alter the delicate chemical balance of his brain. I’ve seen usually quiet, calm, pleasant men turn into raving, punchy lunatics over the space of a few seconds – and all it had taken for them to turn from Dr Jekyll into Mr Hyde was one gulp of that one-drink-too-many. What’s worrying about the belligerent drunk is that he is totally unaware that this is happening to him and he has absolutely no recollection of it the following morning. And he won’t believe you when you tell him about it because as far as he’s concerned he is a quiet, calm pleasant person capable of rational thought and articulated speech.
The happy drunk is the polar opposite of the belligerent drunk, but he is also the most annoying. He is happy from the moment the alcohol touches his lips and becomes happier still when he reaches that one-drink-too-many point. There’s nothing worse than walking sober into a room full of happy drunks because they find everything funny. They laugh at jokes that even a five year old wouldn’t find funny and they do stupid things like jumping fully-clothed into swimming pools, something that they ultimately regret the following morning once they discover that the waterproof watch they own isn’t waterproof at all and that mobile phones tend to stop working when they’ve been immersed in large bodies of chlorinated liquid. My kids used to have a ball that had a smiling toothy face on it and in the small hours towards the end of a New Year’s party at my house my friends and I discovered that if we put it into my dog’s mouth in a certain way it looked like he had a pair of false teeth. We thought that this was hilarious and we almost wet ourselves with laughter, but when I related the story to a group of dog lovers they threatened to report me to the RSPCA – so perhaps it wasn’t that funny after all.
The sleepy drunk is perhaps the most entertaining of the three categories because once he has reached that one-drink-too-many point he is overcome with an overwhelming desire to fall asleep no matter where he is. I fluctuate between the happy drunk and the sleepy drunk. On my birthday one year my wife arranged a barbecue to celebrate me being one year closer to death and, after drinking one too many flavoured vodkas, the couch in the living room drew me towards its comfortable cushions and I fell asleep. My wife found me after I’d been missing for about half an hour from my own party and saw fit to mark the occasion by filming a video of me lying unconscious on the couch, completely oblivious of my two small boys, both naked, jumping up and down on me. When I regained consciousness I became a happy drunk and attempted to barbecue some fish for my brother-in-law, Andy and his wife, Spike. The coals were almost out by then and now my relatives have an abiding and terrifying memory of me chasing them down the garden path with a plateful of raw fish.
You can also shave a sleepy drunk’s eyebrows off and draw things all over his arms and face with a permanent marker.
I have a friend – for argument’s sake I’ll call him Pete – who, over the space of one fateful night, went through all three of the aforementioned categories, as well as a fourth category which he was almost always afflicted with and which I like to call the I-Love-Everybody category.
We were at a Casino Night, one of the many themed nights we have at the bar we frequent. Pete liked going out for a drink now and again but it usually got the better of him after two or three pints. It was a sure sign when Pete started to put his arm around you and tell you that he loved you that he was in a state of intoxication. Pete loved everyone when he was drunk – it didn’t matter who you were or how long he had known you or even what gender you were, once he’d had that one drink too many he was head-over-heels in love with you.
I’d been sat at the Black Jack table for about twenty minutes when he ambled towards me with a smile stretched across his face. I’d been having something of a winning streak when he appeared at my side and I had a large pile of chips in front of me. He put his arm around my shoulder and slurred, “I love you, Steve.”
“I love you too, Pete.”
(Note: All of Pete’s lines in the following conversation should be read in a slurred, almost incomprehensible tone).
“Yeah, but I really love you. I really really love you. I love you like a brother. No, I love more than I love my brother.”
“Have you got a brother, Pete?”
“No, but if I did have one, I’d love you more than him.”
He sat down next to me and put a small pile of chips in front of him. The dealer passed him his cards and Pete looked at them with the ‘one eye open’ expression that all drunks seem to prefer when they are attempting to focus on something whilst simultaneously trying unsuccessfully to appear sober. “I’ll have another,” he slurred to the dealer.
Amazingly, in his drunken happy state, he won and he announced loudly to whoever could hear him (which was everyone in the room and probably a few people in the next street) that he had done so. He was deliriously happy.
But then a sudden change came over him. He looked over at the large pile of chips that I had accumulated over the previous twenty minutes. Then he looked at me and then back at my chips and then back at me again.
“They’re my chips,” he said.
“Those,” he said, pointing at my chips. “You stole my chips!”
“No I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did. You stole my chips when I wasn’t looking. They’re my chips and I want them back!”
“I’ve been sat here for twenty minutes and I’ve won all these chips – they’re not yours. They’re mine.”
“No they’re not. You stole them from me. You stole them from right under my nose. You stole them from me when I went out for a piss.”
“You haven’t been for a piss.”
“Yes I have. I’ve been for several pisses tonight and you must have stolen them then.”
“How could I have stolen your chips when I wasn’t even near you?”
“I don’t know – but you did. Only you know how you stole my chips. Chip Stealer!”
He turned around in his seat and announced to the entire room that I was a chip stealer. “Steve Mitchell stole my chips!” he shouted. “He’s a thieving fucking bastard!”
“For Christ’s sake, Pete,” I said, attempting to reason with him. “I didn’t steal your chips. Why would I steal your chips when I have enough of my own?”
“Because you didn’t have any chips. You stole mine.”
And so it went on for another ten minutes, until I eventually gave in and passed my entire pile over to him. “Here,” I said, “have them. I don’t want them anymore.”
Before I left the table chipless, he put his arm around my shoulder and said, “I love you, Steve.”
Not long after that the sleepy drunk in Pete took over and he wandered home with a pocketful of my chips. He locked all the doors and went upstairs to collapse on the bed. He had that acute awareness that most drunks have about forgetting something important but he was unable to recall it owing to the alcoholic stupor that was causing the room to spin and he fell into an unwakeable slumber until the following morning when he woke up in a panic after suddenly remembering what he had been trying so desperately to remember before unconsciousness overcame him and carried him off into a dreamless, dribbling sleep.
In his overwhelming desire to visit the land of nod he had completely forgotten that he had attended the Casino Night with his wife.
He found her shoes on the front doorstep. After ringing the doorbell for over an hour she had given up trying to raise him from the dead. Luckily the car was unlocked and she spent the night attempting to sleep on the back seat of their vehicle. And when she was finally able to enter the house she had indentations all over her body from the rhinestone encrusted dress she had been wearing for the past fifteen hours.
When I bumped into Pete later that day he was all bleary-eyed and feeling sorry for himself. He told me that he couldn’t remember much from the night before but he must have had a good time because he had found loads of money in the pockets of his trousers.
“That’s because you stole my chips,” I said.
“No I didn’t,” he replied.
I realised that it was futile to carry on and I left him nursing his massive hangover.
The Casino Night was over four years ago and Pete moved back to the UK soon after that. We’re still in touch because I know that, when he’s had a few, Pete still loves me, as he does everyone in the entire world.
And so, Pete, until we meet again I've only got one thing to say to you:
“You stole my chips!”