It’s the Christmas season, which has meant a large number of end of year parties and events. This tends to mean heavy drinking, which is not a regular occurrence for me per se, though it’s certainly not outside my wheelhouse.
As however, I’ve been reflecting on that experience, it occurred to me that there was a way to perfectly encapsulate the experience of “the progress of drinking”. This may not be precisely in the same order for everyone, but it certainly is for me.
The Beginning of the Evening (Fifth Doctor)
Comparatively quiet. Neatly turned out. Charming. Unassuming. Gentlemanly. A little indecisive about where the evening will go and what to do with it. Under the charm though, filled with an excited, nervous energy. Sipping neatly at a preparatory drink, phasing into the evening.
A Few Drinks In (Third Doctor)
The neat humility of the start of the evening has started to drop away, replaced by diplomatic conversation and well-placed bon mots. Starts leading conversations, asking people questions, considering and given considered responses. More inclined to confidently give an opinion, even to a complete stranger. Aiming for wry amusement.
A Few Drinks More (Eighth Doctor)
Most likely in response to the growing effects of alcohol, this stage is marked by loquaciousness and perspicacity, with a fussy gentlemanly precision. Conversation turns to lofty, elevated subjects but a certain degree of boundless enthusiasm for wherever the conversation heads after that is detectable. This can mark the end of a quieter evening, closing out a sequence.
The Tipping Point (Ninth Doctor)
Here, the tipsy stage is formally left behind, and we move into the drunk zone. It’s quite a jump over that gulf, but when you hit the other side of it the notable effect is a kind of boundless enthusiasm. Prone to grinning, saying things are fantastic (or words to that effect). Filled with a kind of buzzed energy, keen to move on to the next stage. Sometimes marked with moments of melancholy, but the tipping point stage compels you to push past those with further energy, as the stage doesn’t last long.
Affably Drunk (Fourth Doctor)
You can’t stop smiling at this stage. Eyes are wide, grin infectious. Hair is unaccountably getting messy. Voice is louder. Keen on all possible subjects. A little unbalanced, in every sense of the word. Interrupts people from time to time, but gets away with it with a smile. Everyone is interesting and you’re keen to have them as a friend. This stage tends to be a hit with people who are on your wavelength, and on the full cycle considered herein, tends to last the longest of all, if not forever.
Comically Drunk (Second Doctor)
If before everything was terribly interesting, now it’s just hilarious. Everything is funny, and you want to be funny with it. Prone to whistling, humming, or otherwise making music. Jokes and comic business abound, along with a kind of affable baffled surprise. Sometimes when someone’s not laughing along, or bringing the mood down with aggression, you step in disapprovingly to fix the situation, but usually by trying to lighten the mood further with jokes.
Blackly Comically Drunk (Seventh Doctor)
The jokes you’ve been telling are still funny (as is everything) but your mood has started to pick up an edge. Your conversation has an agenda now. You’re engaging not just in gags but in badinage, and self-mocking humour. Mockery, indeed, has become the order of the day as the jokes lose their gentle quality and become a way of dealing with the problems of the world. The humour is a cover for concerns about dark and scary truths.
Grandiose Drunk (Sixth Doctor)
The world has problems that need solving? You can solve them! You have an eminently workable theory, and people need to be quiet for a minute and listen to you, because damn it, you are impressive. The stage of the evening where you sing, because people deserve to hear you singing, or you expostulate how to solve complex economic problems with breadsticks. Still on the side of the angels, but this is where the debates get really heated.
Drinker Victorious (Tenth Doctor)
The grandiosity of the previous stage has (somewhat) drained away, and now you’re left with the same sense of your being in the right, but an overwhelming sense of the difficulty and cost. All those wonderful things you just demonstrated were the right thing to do? Maybe the price is too high. Maybe no-one would listen to you anyway. But with the core group of friends you’ve now surrounded yourself with, you’ve got to hope. They’re brilliant after all, and you love them. There’s always an opportunity over the horizon to try again. Right?
The Man Who Forgets (Eleventh Doctor)
You’re slowing down now. It’s the wee small hours of the morning, and you’re feeling old, but dancing against the darkness. Most of the people you started the journey with have left you. You look back over the achievements of all the stages that have come before, all the wonderful moments that have worked for you. Little, gentle silly things come back to you and make you smile, but details are becoming indistinct, vague at the edges. You’re still capable of snapping to the situation you find yourself in, but you’re ready to try and find your way home.
The Morning After (First Doctor)
Old. Cranky. Tired. Suspicious. Sore. Possibly on the run for unspecified crimes.
There you have it. I think it maps pretty well. And it absolutely provides a handy shorthand: “Went out last night and got totally Seventh Doctor!”. Convenient enough, in fact, that it almost looks like design.
Merry Christmas, everybody.