I’m pretty sure most of my longest lasting friendships I can put down to one drinking session that has cemented us for life. As a Brit, I didn’t touch alcohol really until I held up the time-honoured tradition of working in a bar to make ends meet while at uni.
From the day I started working where I did, I haven’t looked back. You see, drinking – at least in my experience – becomes a crash course in friendship in the scariest and most wonderful way. It allows you to do away with the awkward getting to know you phase in exchange for the nitty gritty rather quickly. Your thoughts on life and love, and where your patience really lies.
“Drinking becomes a crash course in friendship in the scariest and most wonderful way.”
You can go to a nightclub toilet and bond with someone over your love of their outfit in the time it takes your best friend to pee, or you can leap to the defence of your friend who is getting unwanted attention to keep them safe. And if they don’t? Well, then you learn the real them quickly and you know not to waste your time. “In vino veritas” – In wine, lies truth.
During my nightclub years, I lost count of the amount of fake boyfriends and girlfriends I’ve had to adopt to get a creep to back off. I still have one of them on speed dial in case of an emergency, even though he has a very solid girlfriend now (who, as it happens, I also enjoyed a five-minute romance with on another night out).
““In vino veritas” – In wine, lies truth.”
Some of these friendships are like lightning in a bottle – the “good time not long time pals” you’ll never see again after a couple of years. Then you get the ones you are bonded to for life, because the moments you share when you are at your most vulnerable don’t ever really go away, no matter where life takes you.
A few weeks ago, I returned to my old haunts for a catch up with my friends. Five years down the line, and it was like no time had passed in ways, but in others we were completely different. And it didn’t matter. Sure, we traded in our jagerbombs and cheap vodka red bulls for a semi-expensive bottle of wine between several of us, we had all moved on from our bar life for actual, adult jobs – and one pair now have a child together. But I remember that same girl carrying her daughter coming through my front door with a tree not so long ago, while the father I once found recreating Titanic by himself in my front room less than three years ago.
“Some of these friendships are like lightning in a bottle.”
These people will always be my drinking buddies, and I’ll always be grateful to the times we shared together even if it was that time I cried in the street over a boy turning me down or the numerous times we held each other’s hair back when we had one too many.
I actually find it hard to make friends. I’m not the most socially adept person and this helped me through it back in the day. But while I’m grateful to the friends drinking brought me, I’m now really glad I’m out of it.
Now, when I head out for after work drinks with my work colleagues, it’s nice to unwind and be elsewhere. To have our lips loosened by some booze and the hidden depths of what we feel about our work life coming out.
“Five years down the line, and it was like no time had passed in ways, but in others we were completely different. And it didn’t matter.”
But when stuff really goes bad, I still return to those friends I used to drink with, and they’re still there for me without question. Because after a while, the alcohol slips away and is no longer relevant to your friendship – they’ve seen you at your worst, so every victory and sadness that life brings is nothing that they haven’t already seen before – and they’re the ones that have really stuck.
“They’re still there for me without question.”
So cheers to the nights I have forgotten, and for my 6am late night philosophers who figured they knew the secret to life. Cheers to the eight in a bed bundles watching Frozen Planet on a hangover, and the hero that had to order in takeaway food to get us through it. And cheers to my friends, who despite now being spread across the planet doing their thing, is still there to support me doing mine.
Tilly Jeanette is a freelance showbiz journalist, working as a reporter for The Sun Online and a features writer for TenEighty Magazine. For more information, visit her website.