Why Lunchtime Drinking Makes Me Wish I’d Had a Sandwich
Contrary to what my Twitter account may reveal to my loyal and often bemused followers, I’m not much of a drinker. Now, I can hear you all falling around with laughter. Stop immediately and carry on reading. That earlier statement is absolutely true, cross my heart and hope that someone stops me buying another round, because I’m in the pub and I can tell you with all honesty, the people I am with are what I would call serious lunchtime drinkers. That basically means that they’re not having any lunch, they’re just drinking.
Now, anyway, as I was saying, I’m not much of a drinker, despite the fact that most evenings, my Twitter following see me with a glass in my hand. Invariably, it’s the same glass, with the same wine in it at the end of the night than there was at the start. I get into a bit of trouble with the old vino collapso when I Go Out Drinking. A night out with the ex boyf was a prime example. Now, lovely as he was, he could pack his ale away. Being a stocky six footer, he also had somewhere to pack it, unlike little four foot eleven and a half inch me. There he’d be chucking pints of Wobbly Bob or some other dubiously named craft beer down his gullet and I’d be match drinking, glugging down the old Pinot Grigio as if it’s going out of fashion. The sad result of this, obviously, would be that he would remain upright at all times and the minute I stood up I would promptly fall down again and he would end up having me attached to his left arm, like an additional appendage as my legs took leave of my body and often decided to travel in two different directions at once. And that was all before three in the afternoon.
We were in Chester once, and the suggestion of a cocktail before noon on the face of things did sound quite appealing and decadent. I mean it was a weekday, and there we were in some pub with kettles hanging from the ceiling, sitting there with a Gimlet and a Screaming Orgasm (guess which one I was drinking. There isn’t a prize unfortunately, I was drinking cocktails and forgot to get one). The bad news was that of course, being a weekday and before noon, and because we’d opted for breakfast (now a distant memory as we’d had that at half eight in the morning) instead of lunch, we were now well on our way to drinking all through that slot midway through the day usually reserved for rushing to the supermarket to grab a pre packed sandwich of dubious origin and fillings or if you’re really trendy, you can go to one of these ‘artisan’ Deli’s where you get the delight of selecting your own dubious fillings and watching some A level student with flimsy plastic gloves slap your choice between two very expensive slices of bread.
By three o’clock, I’d discovered that drinking cocktails before noon and walking around Roman walls was Not A Good Idea and so we retired to our hotel, where he was expecting me to get frisky but to be honest, all I got was sleepy after the whisky. It’s a fallacy, that one. Take it from me. Or him, as he was awake at the time. So yes, lunchtime drinking; it helped my insomnia, but did nothing for my sex life.
Why does lunchtime drinking affect me so much? I know it does that same to other people as well – I’ve worked in large corporate firms where ‘doing lunch’ is really a secret code for taking clients out to have a skinful and returning with a hopeful expression on a very red face and whipping a sales contract out in the hope that the client will be drunk and stupid enough to sign it.
Feeling drunk, or as I like to put it – getting a bit squiffy at lunchtime is nothing to do with the amount of alcohol you imbibe, it’s more to do with other sociological factors which affect your ability to cope with drinking in the middle of the day. For a start, you’re more likely to add a mixer to your drink – and nowadays there’s the trend for ‘diet’ this and ‘diet’ that. But adding a ‘diet’ tonic water to that Gin you’ve got there will actually make you more drunk, more quickly than if you’d added regular tonic. For reasons that the journal ‘Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research’ never explained, diet mixers make your blood alcohol level spike faster. So all the time I was drinking white wine spritzers while he was on the Wobbly Bob, I was actually making myself more drunk. I should have just drunk the wine straight or had a Wobbly Bob.
The other thing about drinking at lunchtime is that it is usually a stress reliever. Think about that lunchtime drink in work, and the Feel Good feeling you get when you’ve just come out of a long and arduous client meeting; or you’ve had your annual appraisal, or the morning has just generally been a Bit Shit and you’ve narrowly avoided clubbing some of your co-workers to death with that bit of the broken photocopier shaped like a baseball bat. The very act of entering licensed premises makes you immediately feel better, and again, clinical research has shown that if you feel good when you are having a drink, you’ll feel more drunk, more quickly. That surge of happiness that you feel walking out of that difficult meeting is the feel good chemicals flooding your body full of Serotonin, Oxytocin, Endorphins and Dopamine. Add those to alcohol and whay- hay, you’ll be feeling squiffy in no time.
If, unlike me and the ex boyf, you do manage to remember it’s lunchtime, and the primary reason that your firm allows you this time away from your labours so that you can actually EAT, this is actually GOING TO MAKE YOU MORE DRUNK especially if you opt to eat low fat or no fat option dishes. Foods with a higher fat content actually take more time to leave the stomach and therefore they can slow down the rate at which your body absorbs alcohol from your digestive tract. Go on, have a chip. You know you want to, and it will stop you turning back up to your desk in a manner which suggests that you have just drank the entire contents of the cellar of the pub across the road from your office.
I’m afraid the ex boyf and I were also on a hiding to nothing because we’re not in the first flush of youth. Sadly, being officially Old People means that your lunchtime drinking will make you make a fool of yourself in front of younger colleagues or friends who are putting away far more than you, yet they can stand up and you can barely stand the thought of getting off your bar stool in one piece. This is because of the decrease in the metabolic rate of alcohol in your digestive tract, and a decrease in body water. Maybe have another chip.
Oh and don’t drink out of a curved glass either – again, studies have shown that drinking out of an angled ‘beer flute’ glass will make you drink more faster, and hence by the time you have to stagger out of the pub and back to your desk, you’ll be more squiffy than your colleague who’s been drinking out of a straight sided glass.
Anyway, it’s half past one in the afternoon. It’s time for lunch, and as I’ve just demonstrated – particularly around the Roman walls in Chester one afternoon back in March this year – I really wish I’d had a sandwich.
© Amy J Steinberg 2017