Another Inning, Another Beer
Perhaps the best summer associate coping strategy I have figured out thus far is one that's actually borrowed from my days as a college freshman. It is this: "never be the drunkest person at the party." Last week, the firm took us to watch a Cubs game in the bleachers at Wrigley. I've been to a lot of Cubs games in my life, but never in the bleachers, and let me tell you, after always being kind of confused by those "bleacher bum" sketches on SNL, I finally get it. In the bleachers, you don't really even watch the game because watching what's going on around you is so much more interesting. And in my case, what was going on around me was a contest between a 250-pound male associate and a 120 pound female summer associate that they called "one beer per inning." When the Cubs are playing good defense but shitty offense (a common occurance, including on the day in question,) an inning can go by pretty quick. You have to be working hard to drink a beer an inning, especially in the sweltering heat. These two were unfazed, and managed to keep up the pace until they realized that they stop serving beer in the seventh inning at ballparks. Oh, the agony. They spent the next two innings cajoling the rest of us to leave the game and go to a bar to keep the party going. We waited until the end of the game and went to the bar, where the 250-pound associate ordered three rounds of tequilla shots for the table and my 120 pound friend ordered 2 rounds of whiskey for herself on top of that. Then on to a Mexican restaurant, with margaritas and more tequilla shots. During all of this, I felt about a million years old. Despite my best efforts to "hang," I couldn't help but pace myself. I had a couple beers at the game but switched to water when the thermometer crept above 90 and I thought I might die of dehydration. I had one shot at the bar and then threw the other two over my shoulder because seriously? I haven't done three tequilla shots in that short a time frame since I was a freshman. I had a margarita with dinner, and left the evening feeling happily buzzed, but like a total party pooper. Should I have taken those two extra shots? Should I have stepped up to the one beer per inning challenge? In a word: no. The 120-pound summer associate, after I left, fell asleep AT THE DINNER TABLE. Think she's heard about anything else since? Nope! (At least not from her fellow summers- its come up at least once a day since.) She will now forever be "Jenny who passed out drunk in front of the partners." What a great way to ingratiate yourself to your future employers! There are some niggling issues about these legendary stories of summer associate drunkenness that gnaw at me a little. There are a few men at the firm who are famous for having gotten wasted at firm parties, but it's all recounted with kind of a gentle teasing tone mixed with a little bit of awe that they can still hang like they did in college. You don't hear those stories about women. Women seem to catch it much harder if they make the mistake of getting wasted at a firm event. Hell, I live in Chicago and people still tell me that story about the poor girl in New York who got so drunk she jumped off the piers. And it's not gently teasing and mixed with awe, either- this girl gets mocked. So I don't know if there are larger gender issues at work here- it seems like maybe. What I do know, though, is that no one seems to remember a single thing about that day except for Jenny Pass Out, and there were a lot of people who were, (to borrow a phrase from my ever-diplomatic father,) "overserved." So maybe instead of "never be the drunkest person at the party," I should refine my motto for firm events to be "try to be the second drunkest person at the party" because hey- free booze, with no lingering bad reputation!