Words by: Stephanie Booth Art by: Lillian Busby
Would you walk into a restroom sober and compliment someone on their outfit? Recommend they leave their partner and insist that you have brunch the next day? I personally err on the side of: over-my-stone-cold-Steve- Austin-body on that one.
There’s something (and it’s not a mystery) about the lubricating qualities of alcohol and drugs that facilitate our social interactions to flow at a greater pace, a more comfortable ease. When weed or wine intertwine our nights, it’s strangers that sometimes become better friends than the ones we arrived with. Albeit briefly.
There’s a nervousness to socialising sober, even for the boldest of us. That’s not to say the only way is to get yourself shit-faced before every event, lest you be faced with the daunting task of having to *gulp* talk to someone, but it is no secret many of us do find it easier to be ourselves — or perhaps someone we’d rather be — when we’ve had a wine or three or a cheeky puff or two.
So when did we forget how to be ourselves and does everyone feel the same way?
Studies from the University of Pittsburgh suggest that using alcohol to help us lose our inhibitions in social situations can be attributed to a few key points:
1— It helps us stay in the moment: we’re less concerned about what’s happening tomorrow and what happened today as we are about what’s happening now.
2— It reduces our anxiety about unpredictable threats (this, as we all know, can be a very bad thing).
3— It boosts our capacity to become closer to people (I feel like I’ve known you forever…).
The invisible cape that alcohol and drugs wrap around us makes us stand-up comedians, psychologists, professional dancers, the life of the party, and the fierce defenders of every upset girl we meet in the bathroom stalls.
Which brings me to the point: nowhere (and I mean nowhere) is this better demonstrated than in toilets.
At work or school during the day, we avoid eye contact at all costs and pee with incredible speed once we hear anyone else enter the bathroom. We politely nod while we wash our hands, a fake smile plastered on our faces, as Audrey from accounts tells us — yet again — about her cat’s surgery recovery.
But at night, we’re new people. We hold doors for each other, warn each other of broken or messy stalls, compliment lipsticks and outfits and hold back hair. We’re besties, bathroom besties. We make promises. We schedule brunches and set up sobbing stall-room stunners with cousins to quell tears. We’re nurses and counsellors, mums and bodyguards.
The friends I’ve made while white wine wasted can’t be counted. I’m the hostess with the mostest, I suddenly own the bar and am shouting at people left, right and centre. I’m providing advice, I’m consoling, I’m cajoling, I’m charming, I’m disarming. And in the morning… I’m generally alarming (looking).
I can’t for love or money remember 99 percent of these people, but I know that in the moment they were the FUNNIEST or PRETTIEST people I’d ever met and we were TOTALLY going to catch up for brunch and go to that other bar next week. So what’s the real harm (kidney, liver, brain, collagen and wallet aside) for that opportunity to shed some stress and release some endorphins by meeting someone nice, making someone laugh, drying up some tears, and giving some advice. Even if only for a night.