Follow these and you'll be fine

Steve Hammer

Steve Hammer's Blog

If you're going to go out and party on New Year's Eve, there are several rules you must follow. It has the opportunity to be the best night of your life and the equal possibility of being an unmitigated disaster, depending on how you play it.

After years of giving verbal briefings to my friends and associates about the proper etiquette for New Year's Eve, I am, as a public service, listing a few of them here.

Rule No. 1: Do not drink and drive. This isn't a MADD lecture about protecting innocent lives and all that. It's a matter of practicality. I've drank more booze in my life than George W. Bush and I've never gotten popped for a DUI. Why?

One, because I'm too smart. Getting arrested for a DUI means less money for me to buy booze. It also means no driver's license, no insurance and at least one night in jail with people I'd rather not hang out with.

Two, I never get supertrashed without enough money for a cab ride home. Over the Fourth of July, when my buddy Spoon was on leave from Iraq, he and I nearly killed off a half-gallon of Kentucky Tavern, a cube of Natural Ice and some shots of something else, too. It was a $23 cab ride home to Broad Ripple from the Southside, but it was worth every penny. Ironically, the cab I was in sailed right through a DUI roadblock. If I'd used my car, I'd still be locked up for it.

Three, there is no such crime as "private intoxication." As long as you don't make so much noise that someone calls the cops on you, you can sit in your house and get as drunk and belligerent as you want. You can curse out the president, make sexist comments and even piss on the floor if it comes to it, and it's all legal.

If you do go out on New Year's Eve, remember this basic rule: Never, ever, ever mouth off to a cop. Listen, police officers have a difficult job in the best of times. They risk their lives daily to protect and serve the citizens of this community. The last thing they need to hear is some drunk person talking shit to them.

People who talk shit to cops deserve to go to jail, in my opinion, just on the stupidity factor alone. In just about any other scenario, the worst thing that can happen to you after running off at the mouth is that you're gonna get punched. Police officers can make your life miserable for years to come.

I've known people who should have gone to jail who got off with a warning because they were polite. And I've known relatively innocent people who've spent the night in the lockup because they couldn't keep their mouths shut when approached by an officer.

Here's a real-life example from my college days in Bloomington. It was Little 5 weekend, which, in case you've never been to IU, is an excuse to get shitfaced drunk for three or four days.

A buddy had just made an illegal booze run for some under-21 friends on the condition they buy him a bottle of Jagermeister. He gets back from the liquor store, distributes the booze and is partying happily.

At one point, he looks down the street and sees a man pouring out his bottle of Jager onto the street. The dude goes running toward the man, screaming and cursing.

"What the hell are you doing?" my buddy says. "I oughta kick your ass, you SOB." The tirade continued for another 45 seconds, with the other guy getting called every name in the book.

The dude just stands there. "So this is your bottle of Jager, huh?" he finally asks.

"Hell yeah," my buddy says, "and I'm about to kick your ass over it."

That's when the guy pulled out his Excise Police badge and hauls my buddy's ass to the Monroe County Jail. The moral of the story is, my friend could have walked away a drunk and free man, but he just had to mouth off to a cop.

On another front, don't let the holiday get the best of you when it comes to the opposite sex. Don't make any promises you're not willing to keep. In the excitement of the balloon drops and the midnight kiss and any subsequent activity, be careful of what you say.

In 2002, I was stuck with an unwanted companion for three months after saying stuff on New Year's Eve I didn't really mean. Just like the signs in the head shops say, "Think before you speak."

That's three months of my life of putting up with a female whose voice sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard. That's three months of putting up with her shitty easy-listening music and three months of not being able to watch basketball.

I'll never get those months back, and it all could have been avoided by me keeping my mouth shut on New Year's Eve.

The last rule to remember for New Year's Eve is be careful driving home. Even if you're stone cold sober, chances are that the guy on the other side of the road isn't. Nothing sucks more than getting into a wreck that's not your fault. Drive defensively, which means, be ready to swerve out of the way of any drunks.

Follow these rules and you'll be sure to ring in 2006 with verve and style. Here's to a happy and healthy new year.

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