A year into the COVID-19 pandemic the sirens in my community are going off every hour or so. I find myself listening to the local police scanners broadcast over the internet.
Today is Saint Patricks Day.
I have not heard anything yet, but I am in a college town. I hear they await an ambulance somewhere on “College Avenue” which must be near the university.
The university is a large mid-west party school where the university closed. But the frats never closed after COVID. The university continues to re-open and bring in more students despite the ongoing pandemic. They do not want to lose money and know how discontented students are with online classes.
An irish bar sits across the street from my office. Rowdy girls can be heard walking down the street. They are clearly not wearing masks, despite local regulations from both the city and the university.
Calling the Cops, why do they do this so quickly?
The petty reasons people call the cops are evident. “Someone [I know] pushed me” and “I want to punish my child for misbehaving” are two recent call ins the police are responding to here in my town. It really makes you think, maybe we should defund the police. This is a useless waste of resources. 1. grow up and 2. stop abusing your kid and maybe they won’t do exactly what you’ve taught them to do when they’re angry.
These are minor issues that could be resolved if it were not so easy to resort to the violence of state authority, i.e. calling the police. Why solve problems yourself when you can call in the state?!
The behaviors of the American public rarely follow the logic of the so-called political perspectives Americans often vocalize. They claim to not want the state involved in their lives, yet are quick to dial 911 for a complete non-emergency or something completely trivial.
Meanwhile police are untrained in dealing with abusive parents, abusive partners, abusive roommates, mental instability, and a whole host of other behaviors that ought not be regulated by penalties and fines. These are social issues, made worse by police who are trained to use violence.
I am a huge advocate for mental health emergency workers. What a great idea for all those unemployed psychology majors! Get to work my community organizers!
Try not to correct me here. Police are definitively not trained to help communities. Rather they are being trained and/or passively being transformed into a domestic military force. Don’t believe me? Check out the 1022 and 1033 programs. If police are not military, why are they using military weapons and surveillance systems? This is decidedly NOT their purpose or job.
It is infuriating that the American public is so uneducated that they do not have even the most basic understanding of their communities. They do not know who their representatives are, they do not know the size of their police forces or budgets, they don’t know who is on the school board, how many mail carriers are in their area, how to use the local library, they have little understanding of how money is being collected and spent, etc.
Denial is the norm of the day. Deny, deflect, ignore, and transform the issue into a personal attack to justify your anger. These qualities do not make an informed citizen of the world.
On top of all this, American’s emotional development is wanting. People have very poorly developed emotional literacy. They cannot read people’s emotions. The best emotion they can handle is anger.
Are you noticing a pattern yet?
Emotional development and social skills seem self-evident. They seem like things we naturally learn in the process of existing. These are foundational to mental health.
Mental healthcare in the United States is awful so alcohol becomes an answer. Not good.
In my professional life, I recently came to understand how bad mental healthcare is. Front and center, headlining my employer’s EAP website during the pandemic was the suicide hotline.
Suicide is the culmination of mental health problems. Anxiety attacks are the culmination of mental health problems. Being unable to get out of bed is the culmination of mental health problems.
Mental healthcare is so bad in my region of the country that this is what constitutes whether you need any help at all. If you are not on the brink of suicide, apparently you do not have a mental health issue/crisis. That is unacceptable.
Americans have come to live such isolated lives. Not because of COVID. There are so many more ways that life is isolated. Be it isolated in suburbs, isolated in our homes, isolated in jobs, isolated in our creative pursuits. This isolation has broken us. We are unable to express ourselves emotionally without being plied by alcohol.
This is why social celebrations like a Saint Patricks Day are so important. They are public festivities, complete with alcohol infused revelry. The bagpipers make their way down Main Street, going from bar to bar entertaining the people. It is a time of social solidarity.
These moments are rare today. In the past festivities were common.
At Hangover Throat we are trying to bring festivities back. To make them part of day to day life. We want people to celebrate and be joyous. We want people to be open and honest.
Saint Patricks Day has turned into a reason to be obnoxious. The police scanner discusses assault and people yelling vulgarities while throwing trash at cars from a residential balcony on a busy roadway.
Girls (or are they women?) wear minimal clothing and doll themselves up complete with makeup and face paint. Their costumes are cute, except that you can feel their desire for sociality through the masquerade. Using a costume to hide our true selves in order to give ourselves an excuse to be open and free reveals the confusion of sociality today.
People at once desire freedom of expression but superficial mechanisms of everyday life hide our true selves behind suits and ties or dare I say it… concealer and foundation. The essence of the problem is that our interactions occur superficially in conversation topic (how’s the weather) and by way of clothes (oh! I love your hair/shoes/watch). At its worst, this leads to dangerous behaviors.
I remember being in an upstate New York university town for an event called “parade day” where someone reported a group of college students launching someone into the air and that person came crashing down head first. They were knocked unconscious and outside a popular bar.
In the 15 minutes my friend was there observing, no ambulance came. My friend that reported to me said the person they had thrown into the air that came crashing down on his head had a giant softball sized bruise (possible a blood blister) on their head. They were out.
The bar owner told the person’s friends to move the body so the bar did not get in trouble. Since it was a popular holiday in town, the police were everywhere. Who knows if that person made it out alive. Their neck could have been broken. They certainly had a concussion.
Another incident that same day involved someone falling off a second floor balcony. The local university goes to great lengths to keep any deaths hush hush. I do not think achieving death should be a measure of how fun a night of drinking was. As far as I am willing to go is wet your pants or pass out in a field. That is far enough. You cross the line with sexual assault and death.
The sirens that keep happening outside my office window are a testament to something. Maybe it is a lack of individual accountability and people as individuals choose to drink too much. But when so many people are doing it, maybe we should consider it as something more than individual actions.
I suspect there are other explanations rooted in mental health and human development. Things like anxiety and depression, isolation and awkwardness, lack of social skills and overly managed or schedule time, a lack of independence and freedom.
But you should definitely go drinking today! Ok, stay in and drink. No need to spread that pandemic around.
Drink the day, or night, away. COVID has been a bear. It sucks. It is not fun any more. This does not mean we should just stop all precautions. I just want food that does not taste bland and flavorless. I want to see people and their smiling faces. I want to feel the breeze on my skin. I want to travel!
Saint Patrick’s Day is great as an outdoor event. A bit cold in the northern parts of the country, but well worth being cold. Double up on your layers. Avoid the dumbasses and get your drink on people!
My cocktail of the day is a mixed beverage that involve Lemon San Pelegrino and Bacardi Rum. Mix a shot or two of the rum in with half a can of “san pelly” and bam, you’ve got yourself delicious alcoholic beverage.
Look at that can. It is made for social distancing!
A second Saint Patricks Day beverage I am enjoying is sparkling pink grapefruit soda with rum, pretty in pink.
So finish the day strong or save it for the weekend. Either way, enjoy yourself.
And do not forget to save up money to travel the world once these lockdowns end. There are so many great places to learn about with great food and good friends to make.
Cheers from us at Hangover Throat