Saturday, May 01, 2010

In reply: "18 to party, 21 to drink"

In reply to: Brain Rage: Lowering The Drinking Age To 18

Some of us--in fact everyone who's commented here 'cept the author, I think--stands a fairly good chance of having been legally drinkin' at 18.

I know I was--for about four months (08/'82-01/'83), when NY law pushed the age to 19. After an eight month wait ('till 08/'83), I got me another eleven months of legal juice-induced frivolity... ...until 07/'84, when the national age went to 21, and I was left legally dry for another thirteen months, until 08/'85. There was no grandfathering us unfortunates into the bars, either... ...although that's when those "18 to party, 21 to drink" wristbands and hand stamps first came into play, at least here in NY...

Of course, all that only affected legal drinkin'. I spent much of those formative mid-thru-just-post teen years hangin' out at my friend's family-owned pizza joint, where the beer was not only surreptitiously flowing, but generally had for the price of "watchin' the front, while I go take a piss.". or "I'm really wasted... Don't let me forget I have a pie in the oven." and helping out with the closing-time clean-up, if one was there. (And don't even get me started on some-o'them other intoxicants. It was the late 70's-mid-80's. We partook of those reality-influencing embellishments what was popular, then... though it didn't take me long to learn that most of 'em--particularly those white lines that seemed to be the drug of choice in the big 80's, even among some of the folks in my circle--weren't my beer and a bud, which in retrospect, is an awful good thing, especially if I always had the heart arrhythmia I was diagnosed with in '06. If so, doing that shit coulda easily killed me right dead on the first try. Fortunately, I was both thrifty, and kinda grossed out by the prospect of sticking much of anything up my nose.)

As far as the question at hand, I've always subscribed to the "either you're an adult or you ain't" philosophy that says if you can risk dying to serve your country, you ought to be able to hoist a "cheers" to her as well, but as I recall, the changes in drunk driving statistics involving that age group (arrests, injuries, fatalities) in the years after the laws changed were pretty impressive, so I'm just not sure I'd want to go back.

(Let's put it this way... I'd be more inclined to favor raising the age at which one can begin serving in the military, if I was to want to right that discrepancy between raising a glass vs raising a gun for one's country... The statistics on dead and injured 18-20 year olds in that group can be pretty staggering sometimes, as well.)

Revised and extended from a comment posted to Brain Rage on/at May 1, 2010, 6:29 AM (Brain Rage blog time)
----- Added, 5:20 PM -----

And in reply to this (11:23 AM, BRbt),:
I hear you Reppy and my standard reply to that line of thinking is to ask 'Why not then raise the age to 25? Or 28, or 30?' Surely fatalities and accidents would decrease, albeit at a slightly decreasing level as driving and drinking experience increases.

I guess because I see it as a question of civil rights I'm pretty black or white on this one too: if you're an adult then you're an adult. With increased responsibility should come increased privileges. That's how I see it anyway.
this (1:45 PM (BRbt).:

"if you're an adult then you're an adult."

As I said, I'm with you there... I guess I'm just not so sure whether enough of us is an adult by age 18 or not. I'd never advocate moving the age of maturity up past 21... (at least not unless 21 year olds started actin' like they was 18, en mass.)

I agree that there ought to be one age or criteria for all of those "adult" rights and responsibilities--and perhaps having to show your HS diploma instead of your state ID would be a good one, in some ways--but I'm just not so sure that if we're using age, 18 is the age to use. (And I'm not sure it isn't, either, though I do find those motor vehicle statistics, not to mention my recollections about 18-21 year olds, including myself, as being pretty compelling.)

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