Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman: Done with drinking games

Drinking games are a big part of New Zealand's boozy culture.
Photo / Thinkstock
Drinking games are a big part of New Zealand's boozy culture. Photo / Thinkstock

I could hardly believe the recent news reports: "A retailer has pulled drinking games off its shelves after a public backlash." Say what? Drinking games were for sale in discount chain stores?

Back in my day we organised our own fun. We certainly didn't purchase Drunken Tower for $16.99 from The Warehouse. According to the NZ Herald the game "includes shot glasses and instructions for players to drink, such as 'everyone drink' and 'drink two with the player to your left'."

OMG. That's no way to play drinking games. True drinking games have to come from within, resonate with your inner being and be experienced with feeling. There are no props or packaging involved. When did the corporatisation of drinking games occur? Not on my watch.

I remember two main games from my stay at Weir House - a Victoria University student hostel in Wellington. One was Fuzzy Duck. You'd sit in a circle and each person would say either "fuzzy duck", "ducky fuzz" or perhaps the direction-changing "does he?"
Hopefully someone would mess up their consonants, say the wrong thing and they'd have to drink.

The only other drinking competition I recall from 1983 - apart from the orientation events inevitably involving goldfish, food colouring and cold meat pies - was more of a test of endurance than a game. I think you had to have something like 36 shots within a certain timeframe without regurgitation. I still recall two of my friends trying to achieve this dubious milestone. There were charts on the wall documenting the consumption of each participant. Even though an adjudicator had been appointed the ticks on the chart became more and more careless as the day wore on.

My fondest memories of drinking games though came later. Most Friday evenings in 1990 about eight of us would meet at the Victorian pub on Lambton Quay. We didn't bother with small talk; we'd simply take the prime corner table and let the games begin.
The main activities were:

* Ripple Tipple: This consisted of a repetitive chant in which you confessed how many times you'd had to drink because you'd messed up the chant. It went loosely like: "Thank you Ripple Tipple Number one. I be Ripple Tipple number two and I've had nay tipples. How many tipples have thee [had]?"

* Spoofing: This game involved three coins per person, clenched fists and some guesswork. Losers had to drink.

* Bottles and Caps: This was a counting game in which you said "Bottles" for any number that was a multiple of five and "Caps" instead of numbers that were multiples of seven. Or vice versa. Or something. It was quite tricky.

My realisation that I'd played far too many drinking games came when I was in a meeting at work and I pointed at someone with my elbow - as you do on a big night out since pointing with your finger is a drinking game faux pas for which you must compulsorily "consume".

So I turned over a new leaf. Apart from one misguided night at Wellington's Brasserie Flipp restaurant, it's been 20 years since I helped propagate New Zealand's unhealthy booze culture in this manner.

In fact the nearest I've got to a drinking game recently was during last month's election. My husband, a keen follower of politics but definitely not a drinker of any substance, settled down with a bottle of chardonnay to quietly watch the television coverage. It wasn't long before I suggested the rule that he had to consume every time a commentator said something that resembled: "But it's really too early to call." I think he drank more that night than he ever did on one of our misspent Fridays at the Victorian.


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Dwelling on injustices, bad behaviour and modern day dilemmas.

Shelley Bridgeman is a truck-driving, supermarket-going, horse-riding mother-of-one who is still married to her first husband. As a Herald online blogger, she specialises in First World Problems and delves fearlessly into the minutiae of daily life. Twice a week, she shares her perspective on a pressing current issue and invites readers to add their ten cents’ worth to the debate.

Read more by Shelley Bridgeman

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