When to Stop Drinking in Paris (and in Life)?

Last weekend I went to Paris.

I love that I can say that. What a glorious lifestyle I live, that I can just pop over to Paris for the weekend. It sounds so chic. As if 5pm came around last Friday afternoon and I casually decided to jump on a train for two hours and spend the weekend eating croissants.

I did jump on the train last Friday afternoon and it did only take a couple of hours to arrive in Paris and I did spend much of the weekend eating delicious, buttery croissants. However, there was nothing casual about the decision. A friend of mine booked my Eurostar ticket about 3 months ago after finding them heavily discounted online. Seven of us decided to make a weekend out of it and it took another month of bickering and negotiating (drawn out by communal laziness) to book the accommodation in Le Marais (thanks ultimately to me).

However, the decision to book the tickets was made on a whim, so it kind of was a gloriously casual affair.

Keeping with the theme of organised frivolity, one of our friends was good enough to book a table at Mama Shelter, off the beaten tourist track, in the Arrondissement de Ménilmontant (the 2oth arrondissement). Mama Shelter is Parisian hipster heaven, decked out with mismatched dining chairs, pool floaties for lamp shades, televisions playing New Wave cinema in the toilet cubicles, and a chalked up black board for a ceiling. In true Parisian style, we ate late (I tried escargot for the first and last time), we drank plentifully and we left at the respectably chic time of 12.42 am.

Tell me, Mama, is it time I stopped drinking? Image

Following a short internal drama with the taxis, we went “across town” (I have no idea where we went) to a “bar” for some flavoured vodka shots. Forty minutes and three rounds later, it was closing time and we were taking recommendations from the bartender for our next location. Another taxi “across town” (to where I believe was in or near Paris Opera in the 9th arrondissement) for our final drinking scene.

More flavoured vodka shots ensued. However, a feeble attempt at dancing in a crowded sweat box, followed by a quick stop in the underground smoking room with no ventilation (oh Europe), proved to be quite sobering and by 4.30am we were out into the streets and ready to call it a night. Anyone who has been to Paris will know that taxis are an endangered species, so after 20 minutes of searching for the rare beast, we decided to walk back to the hotel, which turned out to be a lot closer than we thought.

It was a fantastic night and even though we had a lot to drink, we preceded this with a rather gigantic meal and so none of us were too made shades darker than tipsy for the entire night. And then…

Sunday Morning: Extreme Hang Over

It started at 9.30am, when I awoke with a headache. I figured I was dehydrated, so I drank a few glasses of water, had a long, cool shower and went back to bed.

At 11.30am, I awoke and the gang agreed to meet for lunch, so we convened in the lobby at noon. At first, I was fine, but with each step taken down the cobbled street, I felt my body failing exponentially. My forehead began to sweat. My body tingled. My head felt light. Fever set in.

By the time we stopped at a cafe for lunch, my body had completely malfunctioned. I decided I couldn’t stomach lunch or crowds (the gang was heading for the Champs Elysees after lunch), so I decided to take my abode in a nearby park.

I wish I had this level of accommodation. Image

It was here, surrounded by mamans and papas and screaming little enfants, that I settled for two hours and slept off my hang over. The poor petits enfants were crying little French tears, confused why a sickly, green tramp had taken rest in their bourgeois community playground. I couldn’t give a shit. Their tears were white noise to me, as I was delirious and in need of some serious R & R.

This isn’t the first time I have slept off a hangover in a public space. I have also slept:

  • in Leeds the afternoon preceding my friend’s nineteenth birthday. (Yes, I have nineteen year old friends. Deal with it);
  • in a bunker at Tate Modern whilst waiting to see the Damien Hurst exhibit;
  • in a small CBD park the morning after a boozy client function; and
  • under an absentee co-worker’s desk (with my boss’s blessing) to prepare for a court appearance later in the afternoon.

It was a simpler time.

This trend concerns me.

Back in my university days I was known as the guy who couldn’t get drunk. I would mix vodka with Baileys with beer with tequila. It didn’t affect me. I seemed to have a cast iron stomach. Sure, I would get tipsy, but I would never get out of control. I didn’t even vomit. And I never had a hangover.

And then I turned twenty-six.

Things have gone down hill ever since. Now, at the age of twenty-nine, I can’t seem to drink two glasses of cheap wine without having a miniature migraine in the morning. So what is the solution?

In all honesty, I would happily give up drinking; while it can be pleasurable, this is disproportionate to the suffering caused to my head and my waist line. Unfortunately, drinking is a social curse.

Let’s get wasted!

The perennial statement of our binge generation. Objectively, I perceive this to be a pretty lame mission statement. However, I would be lying if I said that I will never get excited to hear (or say) that phrase ever again. In many ways, I am still an undergraduate at heart. I love art house films. I love talking about politics. I love to think my opinion is worth more than reality. I love passionate discourse. All of these pair well with the social lubricant that is booze.

I won’t deny that I enjoy sharing a bottle of wine with a meal, or knocking back a couple of beers or vodka lime & sodas on a sunny Sunday afternoon. However, I would also be perfectly content exercising my pretensions over a hazelnut-chocolate milkshake.

The boozy parties and impromptu drinking sessions will ingratiate my existence for some time yet. So what is the solution? Do I stand strong, stop drinking after a couple and face the prospect of being a social pariah? Or do I go with the flow and accept that I will be sleeping in parks and nursing headaches for the foreseeable future?

I know my fate, but what does everyone else think? Is there a time to stop drinking?


10 thoughts on “When to Stop Drinking in Paris (and in Life)?

  1. Been there, done that. Seems to be a modern mandatory ‘rite of passage’ but in retrospect (looking back from this end)(I’m an oldish sort of guy) I wouldn’t do most of it again.
    I guess we all grow up sometime, took me longer than most—funnily, now that I don’t touch a drop I just don’t miss it. Stupid liver …

  2. Pingback: I Broke ALL the Rules and Now I’m Freshly Pressed! « Ex-Patria

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