drinkingalone“A good man doesn’t drink, and I’ve been drinkin’ alone—so what does that make me?” ~Kevin Devine, “Ballgame”

Kevin Devine is one of my favorite songwriters, but I don’t agree with him that a good man doesn’t drink. And I have an answer to his identity question: he’s normal, more or less. Drinking alone doesn’t automatically make you a deviant, even though it commonly gets a bad rep.*

I have been drinking alone for almost six years. (Occasionally, you guys. I’m not some kind of degenerate alcoholic. I could quit anytime I wanted to alright?) It began out of desperation when I moved alone to a coastal town one summer in college to work for a newspaper and live by myself in a tiny single-person dorm room. I wasn’t yet twenty-one, and I refused to get a fake ID because that would ruin some of the mysticism that was to come when I was finally legal, so instead of going out and mingling with folks in bars, I would drink cheap scotch called The Grand Macnish (so cheap it came in a plastic half-gallon jug) that my older brother had supplied me with before I made the three-month move.

It was either this or go dry for the summer while still being alone. The choice was pretty simple. And I have wanted to write this very essay about drinking alone since around the time I admitted nonchalantly to others that I liked to get a little silly up in my dorm room while marathoning episodes of The X-Files.

Social interaction is great, and alcohol is great. The two combine swimmingly, unless you are actually swimming, operating heavy machinery, or arguing about politics with your dad. But I don’t see anything wrong with knocking a few back all by your lonesome from time to time, either.

Here are 8 reasons why:

  1. Going out drinking on the regular can get extremely expensive. Especially when you’re out with a girl you’re trying to date or are dating, or a bunch of dudes who keep buying rounds of drinks, and you feel like you have to follow suit. Before you know it, your efforts at some vague iteration of chivalry or your game of “Keeping Up with The Investment Bankers” leaves you with a staggering tab. Then you have to do your own ironing or cancel the disc service portion of your Netflix subscription. Drinking alone allows you to buy a bottle and ball on a budget.
  2. You also get to drink what you want. If you want Bud Light Lime and shots of peach schnapps then hey: you do you, man. Nobody is going to have to know, as long as you can refrain from getting drunk enough to take selfies while you’re crushing a Limeness with your pinky out. You can also eat what you want. And consume the type of media you want. If you want to bawl out to some Bright Eyes, go right ahead. Or get way back into The O.C. Or you could re-pierce that 90s earring hole and feed your cat a sandwich.
  3. Your drinking tempo is totally up to you. You won’t be peer-pressured into taking nine shots of Fireball in a twenty-minute span. But, if you want to, that’s fine too. Just make sure you sleep on your side.
  4. You know how sometimes when you’re alone you get to thinking about things, and basically have a good solid life assessment? That is kind of like talking to yourself but not really? Try it on booze. You’ll probably stop being a pussy for once and really give it to yourself straight. Because drunk words are sober thoughts or whatever. (Just take heed: do not act on any rash decisions you think you make while wasted and alone in a room. You don’t want to quit your job or dump your girlfriend before running it by your sober self first.)
  5. If the beer munchies overtake you before unconsciousness, you can queue up GrubHub or Seamless and get so completely weird with it, and there will be no judgment from anybody. Except the people who make it and deliver it, who will just assume that all of the extremely unhealthy and nonsensical combinations of food you have ordered is for a party of, like, eight. You can tell how many people they think are eating this crap by the amount of utensils and napkins they provide you with.
  6. There’s nobody else to look after. Which is delightful. We all have that friend who gets trashed and pulls an Irish Goodbye and you have to wander around metropolis searching for him at 3 a.m.
  7. You go into the night knowing exactly what you’re going to get (if you stick to your plan of staying in and drinking alone): you go to bed whenever you want, with no commute home, no chance of even being tempted to drive drunk, and you get to sprawl out in your bed and sleep alone. The potential for a surprise ending is just not something you need all of the time.
  8. You can be more productive than if you go out. I mean, I may or may not be drinking a glass of Johnnie Walker Red Label as I type this. Because I’m kind of a method writer. Just because you’re drinking doesn’t mean you can’t take care of stuff. Please ensure, however, that “taking care of stuff” doesn’t include operating heavy machinery or auto-erotic asphyxiation sans a spotter.

*I will say that you shouldn’t drink alone all the time. If you’re trying to take a fifth of Dewars to the face on a nightly basis, you might want to deal with some things.

And here is a drinking alone playlist of some songs I like to put on shuffle when I’m drink-working:

  1. The Replacements – If Only You Were Lonely
  2. The Replacements – Here Comes a Regular
  3. Elliott Smith – Between the Bars
  4. Leonard Cohen – Hallelujah
  5. Jeff Buckley – Lover, You Should Have Come Over
  6. The National – All the Wine
  7. Tom Waits – The Piano Has Been Drinking
  8. The Pogues – If I Should Fall from the Grace of God
  9. Wilco – I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
  10. The Mountain Goats – No Children
  11. The Early November – Sunday Drive
  12. Modest Mouse – The World At Large
  13. Modest Mouse – Trailer Trash
  14. Bright Eyes – Something Vague
  15. Brand New – Me vs. Maradona vs. Elvis
  16. Stars – Your Ex-Lover is Dead
  17. The Libertines – Can’t Stand Me Now
  18. Bright Eyes – Landlocked Blues
  19. Bright Eyes – Let’s Not S**t Ourselves
  20. Taking Back Sunday – Your Own Disaster
  21. Dawes – If I Wanted Someone
  22. The New Pornographers – Challengers
  23. Neko Case – I wish I Was the Moon
  24. Texas is the Reason – A Jack with One Eye
  25. Passion Pit – Tonight, Tonight
  26. Damien Rice – Cannonball
  27. Van Morrison – Into the Mystic
  28. The Airborne Toxic Event – Sometime Around Midnight
  29. Deer Tick – Ashamed
  30. Iron & Wine – Trapeze Swinger