Leave The Drinking Age At 21. Seriously…

The Con


If a group of educators have their way, it’s going to be easier to buy that new Schlitz as it hits the racks of your local A&P.  Over 100 college presidents have signed a statement asking lawmakers to lower the drinking age to 18. 


Twenty-one is not working,” says the group’s statement, signed by presidents from prominent colleges such as Dartmouth, Duke and Syracuse. “A culture of dangerous, clandestine ‘binge drinking’ – often conducted off-campus – has developed.”  (www.newsday.com.  8/19/08.)


There have been several deaths reported at parties in recent years due to binge drinking.  Mostly at fraternity parties or keggers thrown in a dorm room.  This has provoked some debate between pundits.  Some think this is a clever social policy and some others feel this would be an abdication responsibility.   


My mother, a visionary educator in her own right, is absolutely against lowering the drinking age.  She feels if the drinking age is 18, kids are buying alcohol at 16.  If the age of consent is 21, then kids are buying at 18.  And at 16, most are still learning how to drive and act responsibly.  


Looking back, I see her point.  We didn’t have the where and who is going to buy problem at NYU back in 1987.  If you could see over the bar or look the clerk in the eye, you could buy whatever booze you wanted.  As for keggers, we all went to those when we were home.  Why have a keg party in your dorm room when you could hang out at the Village Idiot on 1st Avenue? (Of course, the ritual of your first legal drink was tarnished by this laize faire attitude.  When I turned 21, I had to go to 41 separate places to get carded.  I finally paid a waitress who had been serving me since for three years $5 to card me.  “Congrats.  You’re finally legal.  Now, what do you want,” she said, in that cranky New York way.)  Your NYU students 21 years later, tend to drink six packs and cases of horrible swill in their dorm rooms. As a generation of urban students, we may have had more street smarts but we certainly had less cash on hand.


Are the college presidents right?  Is my mother right?  I have to say I am siding with my mother and the conservative element on this issue, but not using their rationale.  No.  I throw out a more practical concept: beer goggling.


MSNBC reports a group of British scientists will claimed in the 8/06/08 Journal of Alcohol and Alcoholism that when people drink, they do beer goggle; that the phenomenon is not urban myth but reality. 




It was bad enough when I woke up next to a tall, large, blonde Deadhead two buildings down from mine, one December day, and acting like a cad, slipped out without even leaving breakfast.  I was 22 at the time and knew what to do (run like hell).  But at 16?  What are you going to do call your mother to come pick you up?


This will lead to some very, very sticky situations.  My advice to Congress?  Save the next generation the embarrassment.  Let them beer goggle whilst away at school, like everybody else.


(For the record, I was only caught drinking underage once.  I was 19 at the time and went to my summer job still sweating the booze out from the party the night before.  The Old Man caught on and decided to have a heart to heart with me.


“There is no such thing as a Jewish Schicker (alcoholic) and my oldest son will not be one.  DO NOT drink until you’re 21.  Got it?”


I thought about arguing with him but thought the better of it.  What good would it be to tell him Lou Reed is a Jew and a lush?  None at all.  Besides, he would have made me go to the track with him nightly…..)

Did you ever have to call your father to come get you when you were underage and drunk?  Let me know and I will post your comments.





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