The Top Ten Things Every Newly Minted 21 Year Old Must Know About Drinking

In less than an hour, my niece---my sister’s oldest child and affectionately known as “The Girl”---will turn 21.

To say I’m filled with dread is an understatement.

It’s not that I don’t trust her judgment; it’s everyone else I’m giving the side eye.

Then I’m sure watching “Taken” a few days ago didn’t help my disposition.

I know she’s good and kind.  I know she’s smart.  As I stated, it’s not her, it’s all of the raving lunatics out there I’m worried about.

Somewhere my mother is laughing her ass off.

So it is with this in mind, I give the girl a gift that no one in their 40’s ever gave me when I turned 21---How to drink.

  1. NEVER, EVER GET INTO A CAR WITH SOMEONE WHO’S BEEN DRINKING, TAKING ANY ILLEGAL DRUGS OR HAS IMPAIRED JUDGEMENT.
  2.  Know who you’re drinking with.
  3. Watch your own drink.  Always.
  4. Know your limits.  Stop drinking when your body says stop.  Trust me.
  5. Tip.  20% minimum.  All of the time.  Trust me.
  6. If you’re in a cab, text someone---anyone---the cab number
  7. You come as a group; you leave as a group.
  8. If you have an asshole friend that always starting drama with other people, cut ‘em loose.  Their actions could get you shot.
  9. However much money you spend drinking, deposit an equal amount into your savings from your next paycheck.
  10. If you have a bad feeling about a situation---whether it be in a club, the look of a crowd or someone you just met, it’s probably pointing you in the right direction.  Pay attention and proceed with caution.

Those are the basics.

Yes, I know that you know most of them already but I’m twice your age and I’ve just figured out some of these a few years ago.  I’m just trying to give you the benefit of my experience.

Have fun.  Call me if you need to be picked up and remind me that we need to have a talk about which bars are off limits in the city.

Those are mine and I’m not sharing them with any more 21 year olds than I have to.

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  • Nice list. I will forward this to my 21-year-old daughter.

  • You missed the most important one (unless I'm going blind) which is NEVER get behind the wheel of a car if you've been drinking. I know you're supposed to be able to have .08 of alcohol, but you don't know what that is and how your body copes with alcohol. Furthermore, the minute you have one drink your judgement isn't so good; next thing you know you'll be thinking you're fine to drive when you're really not. PLUS, in many jurisdictions, even if you're under the limit, you can still be booked if you appear impaired behind the wheel. Just not worth it.

  • Great list! As a recently turned 21-year-old I heartily agree with these suggestions. I especially like the "remind me that we need to have a talk about which bars are off limits in the city" line- I have quickly learned that not all Chicago bars are created equal!

  • A very important rule, don't mix your drinks. No beer followed by whiskey, followed by shots.... Also avoid sweet sugary drinks. That first hangover is such a killer.

  • I would also tell her not to encourage someone to drink if that person doesn't drink. It's ok if someone doesn't drink. In fact, that's great because you'll always have a friend in the group who can be the designated driver.

  • 1. Drinking too much will make you poor and fat. I know you won't listen but if you decide to drink a three drink max is the way to go.

    2. A DUI costs about $10K or you could die or kill someone else due to you being stupid

    3. Finish your drink before you go to the bathroom. Do not leave it on the bar.

    4 Always hold on to your drink

    5. If he's cute tonight he'll be cute tomorrow, don't bring him home!

    6. Get to know your bartender and always tip

    7 Nothing good can come from going to a 4:00am bar after the 2:00am bar closes. Go home!

    8. Don't ever pay cover (unless it's a band you really want to see) and don't wait in line to go drink (spend your money)

  • nice post!

  • I hope parents are under kind of idealistic daze. Not that I have an opinion on it, but most kids these start to drink in college if not sooner. The chances that your child hasn't consumed alcohol by the end of the freshman year, are very very small. Turning 21 doesn't change things, except for the fact that cover is cheaper and that you can buy your own drink. And of course if you are in a bigger City, you can only enter the bar as a 21+.

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