The Lesser of two evils

It’s time for me to set the record straight. With any luck, the age-old debate will finally be put to rest. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Drinkers are more annoying than smokers.

Sky Frostenson/

To understand why I feel the way I do is to understand that while growing up, I have known many drinkers. Whether they have been close friends, or even family members who would get a little tipsy now and then, drinkers have been a staple of my life. In fact, I recall a picture of myself as a toddler proudly holding a Bud in my tiny hands.

I have also shared the company of plenty a smokers, most notably my father, who could not shake the habit until my family finally made him quit after nearly 20 years. Being Korean, it’s a wonder I did not pick up smoking the minute I hit puberty. Alas, I can’t say the same for some of my peers, many of whom light up as often as they eat a meal.

Needless to say, I’ve had my share of alcohol and cigarettes. Easy access is truly an understatement when it comes to finding the stuff on campus. While no clear-cut distinction exists between drinkers and smokers — and indeed many people do both — a smoker is still more tolerable than a drinker.

No doubt, students are shaking their heads right now, either in disbelief or disgust. They are probably wondering how I could conclude that drinkers are the worse of the two groups. Before I continue my little diatribe, however, I must admit that even smokers can be a tad annoying in their own right.

Understand that it’s all a matter of preference. With smokers, all someone really has to deal with is the stench. Then again, if you are like me and the smell of smoke doesn’t send you sprinting in the other direction, smoking really isn’t all that annoying. Aside from all the havoc second-hand smoke wreaks on a person’s body, the annoyance level of a smoker continues to be significantly lower than that of a drinker. Honestly, some people actually like the smell, and understandably so. For many, it’s a very soothing smell, not unlike the rich aroma of a wood-burning fire.

Smokers tend to be a mellow bunch. Much like their pot-smoking cousins, they choose to chat openly about their problems and ponder deep, philosophical questions. In other words, a smoker usually still has his mind intact. Even though they may still be “”escaping”” their problems with each puff, they are still there, mentally at least. Not surprisingly, they tend to be a more thoughtful, contemplative crowd, less inclined to act like morons and annoy somebody in the process.

I can recall many times I’ve found myself in a crowd of smokers. I remember the calmness of the mood in the circle. The vibe was good. Sure, their frequent spitting and coughing got to me after a while, but that was a minor distraction. The point is that everyone was pretty real, which is more than I can say for most people who get wasted. We shared laughs and had a good time.

I am not advocating smoking, you see. Few would argue that it isn’t a bad habit. I am simply saying that compared to most obnoxious drinkers I have known in my day, smokers are a much more tolerable crowd.

I feel it necessary to clarify my argument a bit, so as not to confuse our loyal readers. When I say I find drinkers annoying, I am referring to a specific type of drinker. I’m not referring to the drinker who has a couple of drinks to unwind every now and then. That type tends to be mellow and cool, almost on par with the most bearable smokers. Instead, I’m talking about the kind who cannot hold their liquor and periodically end up vomiting chunks over a railing at the end of a party.

What exactly makes these sorts of drinkers so very annoying? For starters, they have a tendency to get very loud. Losing all inhibitions is to be expected, but many take it to the extreme. Often, sexual energy takes charge of a drinker’s entire being, and before you know it, there’s a greasy drunk hunched over your lap trying to straddle you and lick your forehead.

Drinking can be very fun, and I realize this. Losing control isn’t, however. Unfortunately, too many drinkers often do the latter. Bliss for them is chugging shot after shot of Bacardi 151 until they lose count.

Maybe losing his mind occasionally is fun for the person doing it, but it is rarely so for everyone else witnessing it. We laugh at drunken people because — let’s face it — they’re hilarious. Few things are as entertaining as incoherent and goofy drunks.

Comedy, though, only goes so far. After a while, their wild ways are no longer as funny and soon become downright irritating. Particularly striking is when they are so smashed that they’re whining about how bad they feel. Before you know it, they’re hugging a toilet, wishing to God something would come up.

That reminds me of a party I was at not too long ago. Alcohol was flowing and the mood was festive. I could barely walk five feet without encountering another happy drunk venting about his problems or just acting silly. Being buzzed myself, I didn’t mind the inebriated ones around me. No sooner had I started to enjoy the ambiance of the party, however, than did their over-the-top behavior start to really bug me.

The drinkers started to get rowdy and idiotic. They became insincere up to the point where I wasn’t sure if they were really that stupid or if it was just the alcohol talking. Comments were thrown around, such as, “”I am so wasted right now, let’s see how many more shots `til I pass out!”” It was this sort of self-proclaiming, self-aggrandizing behavior that I found particularly vexatious. It’s about as annoying as a group of guys bragging about who’s got a bigger package or who’s slept with the most girls.

Many drinkers become pretentious and feel the need to declare how cool they are by the number of shots they can down in one sitting. Let’s face it, some people are annoying enough sober. But if you give them a few drinks, forget it. They become unbearable. Smokers smell and drinkers can be fake. Pick your complaint. As for myself, I have no trouble breathing a little smoke.

The Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “”Drunkenness is simply voluntary insanity.”” Show me one truly sane person, and I’ll show you a completely honest world. From time to time, a little insanity is a marvelous thing. Drinking can provide the necessary fuel for a perfectly mindless experience, one fraught with fun and merriment. Crossing the line by acting fake and brainless is when it becomes old.

Some smokers may be fake, but at least it isn’t the cigarette that’s causing it. I’ve said it twice and I’ll say it again: Drinkers are more annoying than smokers.

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