Germans are a serious lot. They like their women blonde and their warfare scorching. They want perfection in everything, and will invent the math to have it when necessary.
I am very serious about my drinking. I have, over time, worked it down to an art form. I cannot call it a science because the outcome is never certain. However, with a lot of practice and a bit of old Kentucky Windage, I can make it look like one.
Drinking is about method.
Once upon a time, I don’t remember when, I read that during Oktoberfest some Germans kept track of their steins by putting a mark on the back of their hand with a marker. The idea was elegant in its simplicity, and a Sharpie cost less than a Breath-a-lyzer.
When I turned 21, I put this method to its first serious test. Using a jigger, a marker, and a magnum of Bombay Sapphire, I kept an exact toll of my consumption in shot-per-proof equivalent.
I woke the next morning with 21 marks on the back of my hand. It looked like a bar code, except where the lines got a bit wobbly after the first dozen. My voice was gone for several hours, and hoarse for a day after that.
I had a searing hangover, the kind only gin can inflict.
This was the start of something for me. Bragging about one’s drinking exploits is one thing, but keeping record of them – for good and ill – is entirely different.
For every good night, and every impressive tally, came an uncounted number of bad nights. My good nights all wore one common trait: the marks on the back of my hand.
Keeping track of my drinks, however excessive, allows me to pace it right. No amount of tolerance can make up for proper pacing. The Big man outweighs me by a significant margin, and we’ve been going shot for shot for more than a decade.
When I’m on, the booze will run out long before I do . . .