By Tim Haggerty

If you listen carefully, you’ll hear his voice over the blaring sirens, screams and stereos that flavor the Georgetown air on weekend nights.

That’s him with sandpaper in his throat, shouting, “Drink it up,” and burping for emphasis as sonorous laughter pours from his tubby belly.

In my last life, I mean in high school, I knew him, this sloppy mess of a man, this corpulent pirate who drooled tobacco down every shirt he owned.

He was the sort of guy who bled beer and puked vodka, who could corrupt kids by standing too close. He was a deeply religious fellow for whom Thirsty Thursday replaced Sunday Mass.

At predictable intervals he would spew out the choicest vulgarities, bleepity-bleepity-bleep-bleep-bleepity, he’d say, usually within earshot of his young son.

And now he haunts this place.

He’s the dark side of the strange duality that pervades so many lives here at Georgetown, the devil on your shoulder pointing the way to the keg.

He’s the hack who writes taglines to bad Dolph Lundgren movies: “By day he’s an earnest and overachieving do-gooder. By night he’s consumed with a thirst that only Champs can quench.”

He’s the crux of the drinking problem here. In some ways, it’s the same as any “E! True Hollywood Story.” Georgetown can be as cruel to us as New York was to Darryl Strawberry, as Hollywood was to Robert Downey Jr., as the world was to A.J. McLean.

We live in a community flooded with talent, brains and egos. It’s a cutthroat place, where people hoard library books and tear pages from encyclopedias to get a competitive edge.

To some limited extent, it’s believable that these pressures actually drive people to drink, to get away from the stresses of the day, to do something other than work.

But alcohol has become more than an escape here, it’s a twisted sort of social lubricant, and many people see it as the best, if not the only way to unwind with buddies and non-buddies alike.

It’s sort of pitiful what passes for prime social functions in college. The only constants are rampant law breaking, group binge drinking and vats and vats of vomit. The sort of things you’d regret in the morning if the memory weren’t so hazy.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The solution, of course, is simple. Don’t drink; do something else. Your friends will join you. Their friends will join them. If they have the guts.

Drinking is the easy choice. It takes little effort to organize a booze-fueled party, and that’s what people do to “have fun” because that’s what they’ve always done to “have fun.”

That is to say, if people had decided years ago that it would be fun to get together to drink designer waters, so it might be today. ight the beer be arbitrary, its allure heightened by its mildly elicit nature?

But not mildly illegal, to be sure. And whether in campus press or broad student opinion, those who support or – gasp! – enforce underage drinking statutes are cast as sticks-in-the-mud at best.

It’s not the right to peaceably assemble we’re talking about here.

You’ll hear the flagrantly fallacious logic that purports to justify underage drinking.

“I can be drafted – I can (chest thump, real indignation) die for my country. I can vote. So why can’t I drink a little moonshine?” Whether it’s running for U.S. president or New Jersey state senate, laws in this country allocate certain rights and privileges based on age. You don’t inherit the farm at 17 or 18, or 21 for that matter.

“I’m not hurting anyone. I’m not driving. What’s one drink matter? You can drink at (fill in your age) in (fill in your country).” American laws are devised to suit American needs and to fit into a culture that is markedly different from any other.

If you’re that concerned with the validity of underage drinking measures (I doubt it), you ought to challenge them, not ignore them. Binge drinking episodes and their often-tragic aftermaths at American colleges have been so publicized that no lawmaker could argue that the nation’s teens would act responsibly if allowed access to alcohol.

A more justifiable pro-drinking argument is the social one: Not that everyone else is doing it, but that if you don’t drink, you are left out. That happens, and it’s a sign of how broken Georgetown’s culture can be.

Broken by that fat slob, by the little piece of him in all of us.

He calls no one by name as he leads them stumbling home down Prospect St. Names don’t mean anything when everyone’s trying to be the same, from their tube tops to their plastic keg cups.

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