We Need to Talk – Sober

Imogen Clarke discusses the relationship between alcohol and honesty.

“We need to talk.” These four little words have rarely, if ever, been known to end well. So why is it that after sinking a bottle of wine (or two), we think that having these serious conversations will be totally peachy? I mean, it’s not like alcohol has ever made people irrational, over-emotional or totally incoherent.


The situations this arises in are endless. That thing your flatmate did that niggled you three weeks ago and you aren’t quite over: Why not chin that Pablo and call them out on it? Or that ex who wronged you and got away lightly. Why not order a couple of tequila shots and set the score straight? Or maybe it’s just someone whose mere presence irritates you. Double vodka and you’re away.

Why do we do this? It might be a courage thing. All those little things we’re too polite to say or too afraid to say in case we hurt or offend someone just slip out as our tongues get a little loose. Sometimes that extra courage is a good thing; it encourages us to stand up for ourselves, to speak up for what’s right and slam down what’s wrong. I’ve seen plenty of bullies and bigoted morons get deservedly shut down in the middle of a bar by someone who, if sober, wouldn’t even have opened their mouth.

But sometimes it just turns us into total dicks.

That conscience that sits in our head and tells us it’s a bad idea to say what we’re thinking has a purpose. Whether an opinion is borderline offensive, outright insulting or, quite frankly, none of your business, alcohol doesn’t make it suddenly okay. If anything, it makes it worse.

Most of all, what’s the actual point in that conversation? Nine times out of ten you’ll just create aggro without either of you really remembering the conversation, or remembering key phrases totally out of context. The situation will never truly be resolved. You’ll probably then drink more, so you remember even less. It’s a deep, dark spiral that finally finishes with you sat crying in the middle of the street (guilty) or spewing your Dervish into the nearest bin (also guilty).

Lowering inhibitions is the blessing and the curse of alcohol, which as a result tends to be the stimulus for both the best and worst nights out. So learn from my mistakes, since I fail to learn from them myself. Next time that niggle appears in the back of your mind, stifle it until you’re sober and then keep your opinions to yourself. Please.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Stand