Dear Auntie Dolores,
I’ve been dating a gringo for three months. I’m Guatemalan so when we first met I was a bit worried about our cultural differences but until now everything has gone more or less smoothly, apart from his obsession with punctuality and my lack of the same. Last week he invited me to a party with his friends and they wanted to play “drinking games.” Well apparently I wasn’t prepared! How can they call what they did “games”?! It was a night of endless drinking with high levels of competition and adrenaline! He really wanted me to participate and play with his friends but I couldn’t hang on for long and naturally my night ended early after half an hour of something called “beer pong.” I hope you can help me deal with it better next time and also to understand the personality of my boyfriend when he plays.
Amateur Beer Pong Player
Dear Amateur Beer Pong Player,
First, don’t feel bad. I understand how traumatizing the first time dealing another culture’s drinking culture can be; the first time my gringo boyfriend encountered Quetzalteca he was vomiting and crying by 10:30PM. (True story.) As you now understand, the gringos’ so-called “drinking games” (beer pong, beer ball, slap-cup, flip cup, etc.) are not “games,” they are sports and personal challenges. Only idiot gringos would use a word that describes childhood fun to describe evenings of competition and pushing physical limits.
To understand where all this drinking madness comes from, you need some social context.
Drinking alcohol is not allowed for gringos until they are 21! As you can imagine, their teenage selves find ways to escape this prohibition, and their imagination flows. What else they can do? If they’re trapped in their parents’ basement or the woods or their college dorm, there is an obvious need for entertainment… in their case, this entertainment apparently means turning drinking into a sport. While the rest of the world’s drink-sneaking youth are learning the arts of conversation or dance, gringo teenagers learn beer sports since they’re not allowed near clubs or bars. As you may already know, competition is an important part of their culture so it’s not hard to see how this all came together.
When they turn 18 they often go to college only to endure three more years of this prohibition. It’s therefore also understandable that it’s there, in the famous fraternities that substitute for bars and clubs, where they really get professional about these drinking-sports and “beerlympics.” I mean, they can’t dance, so what else are they going to do?
So, here’s some concrete advice for you:
- Line your stomach before the party. Eat just enough to create a good base. And drink a glass of milk.
- Train in advance. Every sport needs training and these games are no exception. Every meal should include a beer for at least a week before the party. Drink them faster and faster. Get ping pong balls and train with them. Carry them with you and bounce them off walls, into things, over people.
- If you really want to impress your gringo boyfriend at the next “beerlympics,” get a trophy as a surprise for the winner. He (and probably his friends) will fall in love.
- If someone offers you a “strike-out,” don’t do it.