MBAs and Keg Chugs
I had reason to again enjoy two nonalcoholic beers tonight. The first was at the Norwich Inn – a Clausthaler. No matter how many times I say the name or order it, I still have to look it up to write it correctly. It was fabulous.
Then I went to a friend’s house where they were drinking wine, and I whipped back to the house and grabbed another Clausthaler out of the garage fridge. I enjoyed that one too immensely. Day 5 complete. Only 26 to go for my resolution of no drinking in January.
Tonight I was reminded of a situation from over 20 years ago related to nonalcoholic beer that is perplexing to me and to other who I tell this story to.
It was late winter of 1997 and I was the appointed social chair of the Tuck Winter Carnival. After a day of downhill races with MBA students from all over the country, and even the UK, the big after-party took place at the Coolidge Hotel in White River Junction, Vermont. And the main event would be the keg chugs between all the schools… MIT, UNC, Duke, LSE, among others. I don’t think Harvard showed up. We acted like we didn’t care and laughed at it, but I’m sure it took a little wind out of our sail… we weren’t worth the two-hour trip stood in some of our minds.
I don’t remember the exact reason, but a few days before the event the manager of the Coolidge called to tell us of horrifying news… there would be no alcohol permitted at The Coolidge. Maybe they lost their permit, maybe they changed their mind… or maybe it was just no kegs, or chugging of alcohol, I can’t remember. I just knew we were completely screwed.
After scrambling for options, we came up empty-handed. That is, until we came up with the most evil, below-the-belt plot ever devised by MBA students. I should probably not have graduated for what would happen next.
The evening began, dinner was served, and drinks were shared. OK, so since I wrote that, it obviously wasn’t a full liquor ban – but I’m not going to change what I already wrote before. This is real-time recollection of hazy facts.
The time came for the famous keg chugs and we were ready. The teams gathered and off we went. Beer flying everywhere, lots of hooting, hollering, cheering and booing, and slowly but surely, the effects of that much booze kicked in. The party was getting epic, and the best part was that Tuck was winning the chugging contest.
Three of us, plus the Coolidge manager, had a secret though. It was a super big, awesome, impossible to imagine secret. My former swimming team-mate from Dartmouth was on one of the other teams… UNC I think. He and his girlfriend were going after the crown like the best of them. Since I had known him for so many years, and they were all starting to act a little over the top, I decided to share my secret.
“Rick,” I said. “This has to stay between you and me. The kegs we are drinking? They are nonalcoholic. Every one of them. Everyone acting drunk right now? They aren’t actually drunk. It’s impossible.”
Rick was incredulous, and quickly looped his girlfriend into the conversation. “What?!” she exclaimed. “But I feel drunk. There is alcohol in here. Right?!”
“Nothing. It’s all nonalcoholic, ” I said a bit sheepishly, beginning to sense a problem.
“That’s total bullshit! You guys cheated – you didn’t win if there wasn’t any alcohol in the beers you chugged!! This is total crap. I drank all of that and I didn’t even get drunk?:
I had to digest it all a bit later. In the moment, I had to basically get the f&ck out of there. The word was spreading. People were “sobering up” quickly… almost as though a massive serving of harsh black coffee had just poured in from the ceilings.
Because people thought they were drinking alcoholic beverages, they began acting the part of one who had consumed one, two, five and even ten beverages. They weren’t actually drunk, but they thought they were because they must be, so they acted into it.
TO BE CONTINUED