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Old Lady Says New Yorkers Don't Get Drunk

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Susan Cheever

Maybe you're just going to the wrong parties. Or perhaps your friends have gotten more skilled at being alcoholics. Sure, New York has been annoying overrun by hedge funders and people who look like news anchors, but plenty of people are drinking in NY. In fact, that seems like all we do here. From an article by Susan Cheever at the NY Times' booze blog, Proof:

As dessert ended, the woman in the red dress got up and stumbled toward the bathroom. Her husband, whose head had been sinking toward the buche de Noel, put a clumsily lecherous arm around the reluctant hostess. As coffee splashed into porcelain demitasse cups, the woman in the red dress returned, sank sloppily into her chair and reached for the Courvoisier. Someone gently moved the bottle away. "Are you shaying I'm drunk?" she demanded. Even in the candlelight I noticed that the lipstick she had reapplied was slightly to the left of her lips. Her husband, suddenly bellicose, sprang from his chair to defend his wife's honor. But on the way across the room he slipped and went down like a tray of dishes. "Frank! Are you hurt?" she screamed. Somehow she had gotten hold of the brandy. "S'nothing," he replied, "just lay down for a little nap. Can I bum a smoke?"

That dinner party was almost 10 years ago; it was the last time I saw anyone visibly drunk at a New York party. The New York apartments and lofts which were once the scenes of old-fashioned drunken carnage -- slurred speech, broken crockery, broken legs and arms, broken marriages and broken dreams -- are now the scene of parties where both friendships and glassware survive intact. Everyone comes on time, behaves well, drinks a little wine, eats a few tiny canapes, and leaves on time. They all still drink, but no one gets drunk anymore. Neither do they smoke. What on earth has happened?

[...]

Maybe environment is the elephant in the room. In an environment where it is not attractive to get drunk, no one gets drunk. In the old days, drunkenness was as much part of New York City society as evening clothes. This is the city where Zelda Fitzgerald jumped wildly in the fountain in front of the Plaza, the city of "Breakfast at Tiffany's," written by another fabulous alcoholic, Truman Capote. It's the city of late nights with sloshed celebrities at the Stork Club. It's the city that gave its name to Manhattans and Bronx Cocktails, the city of John O'Hara and Frank O'Hara, of drunken brilliance and brilliant drunks.

As Gawker points out, we're all getting older and aren't hanging out at keggers, Susan. But, have you really not seen "anyone visibly drunk at a New York party" in ten years? Where were you election night? We agree things are dull in New York now, but people are definitely still boozing it up here.

UPDATE: And as Travis mentions in comments: "The woman is a recovering alcoholic (wrote a book about it called Note in a Bottle). My guess is that since she's not drinking anymore, all the sudden it's gauche and unfashionable."

Comments

She writes for the Times. Of course she's surrounded by uptight, boring prudes. Have you ever known someone who writes for the Times? I met a few, insufferably dull.

The woman is a recovering alcoholic (wrote a book about it called Note in a Bottle). My guess is that since she's not drinking anymore, all the sudden it's gauche and unfashionable.

They need some new writers over at that booze blog. Maybe I'll start documenting my regretful Saturday nights over here and show them how it's done.

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