“Now, if you drink a lot, and I do, it’s hard to date the exact nascence of a bender. When is it that ordinary heavy drinking leaves off and a true bust, a tear, a bat, a jag begins? There’s drinking in the morning – that’s one sign, of course. Unless it’s beer; there’s nothing more delicious with sausages and eggs than beer And a medicinal shot or two doesn’t count. And if it’s getting on to eleven o’clock – and in those days I was never awake before – it’s nearly lunchtime, and you can hardly say you’re launched in a hoolihan with a drink or three before the midday meal. Then there’s the shakes and a bleary thirst, but those signify alcoholism, which is but the sickly repetitious thirst of a real rampaging toot. No, I think, at least with me, I’m on a bender when I start carrying a drink, a real drink with ice cubes in a cocktail glass, with me wherever I go: to the grocery store, for instance, or to the bank, or into the shower, which is a better place than you might think, if you pour your Scotch strong and use plenty of ice. A little warm water never hurt a good blend like Chivas or Dewar’s, but a single malt should only be had on the toilet or at the sink.”

– P.J. O’Rourke, “So Drunk”

[Thanks to the Manhattan Lawyer for the book, lo these many years ago.]


  1. Matthew,

    Visions of life on Oak St. come rising, like ice cubes surfacing in a schooner-sized tumbler of Wild Turkey…

    Bathroom? Yes.
    Bedroom? Yes.
    Kitchen? Yes.
    Living Room? Yes.
    Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.


  2. notrelatedtoted says

    So that’s where you’ve been!

    \\Thesis topic for the Godsbody School of Inebriation and Fine Arts: Does alcohol play a character role in All the King’s Men? Discuss.

  3. Quin Finnegan says

    In grad school I picked up the habit of drinking cold beer in a hot shower to start the day. It was never really a problem until I started keeping a styrofoam cooler on the counter. Then a small fridge.

  4. Cubeland Mystic says

    This seems to be an Irish only thread. In the spirit of cultural sensitivity I will refrain from commenting, since I am not Irish nor am I as intimate with the subject matter.

  5. O’Rourke is so much fun to read. What’s the thesis of the book? Is it a how I got sober tale?

    You should try Holiday’s in Hell. It’s a little dated now, but still funny as can be.

  6. Anonymous says

    I suspect it’s either The Bachelor’s Home Companion or Modern Manners.

  7. Anonymous says

    I always enjoyed this blog… but as recovering alcoholic, (and recovering Catholic) I don’t really know quite what to say…..

  8. Matthew Lickona says


    There are, of course, certain contexts where some jokes, even jokes which many may consider funny in themselves, are wildly insensitive and inappropriate. And one of the troubles with blogs is that they don’t get to choose their audiences. My sincere apologies if my quotation gave offense.

    I certainly don’t take alcoholism lightly. But taking something seriously doesn’t make it necessarily off limits for jokes – I imagine Dave Chappelle takes racism very seriously. Gallows humor has been with us for many years. Telling the joke about the man approaching the gallows and asking, “Are you sure this thing’s safe?” does not mean one takes capital punishment lightly – nor death itself. There are more jokes about death than booze on Godsbody – and I take death very seriously indeed.

    To close: I don’t think it intrinsically wrong to joke about going on a bender. But I apologize if in doing so I gave the impression that I thought alcoholism was a laughable thing.

    Oh, and if, as your post seems to imply, you regard Catholicism, like alcoholism, as a damaging condition to be recovered from, then I am sorry to hear it.

    Thanks for reading!

  9. Anonymous says

    Thanks for your reply. I wasn’t offended, not at all- I just, well, didn’t know what to say. For me, that is unusual!

    I was raised Roman Catholic, but left that faith after high school. Too many fights with the nuns about birth control, and the ordination of women! Fast forward ten years… I became an Episcopalian. I believe that I am what God called me to be- a rather outspoken Episcopalian! Interestingly, I have a greater respect for, and appreciation of, the Catholic faith, than I ever did growing up. I have thought of returning, but every time I consider it, something happens that brings me back to the Anglican fold. Also, my sons love our Episcopal parish. I have come to accept that I will always have somewhat divided feelings about this. Anyway, thanks for your reply. Also, I read your book, and really enjoyed it.

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