I’ve been freezing my ass off for the last three months. Sure, the last mini heat wave got me back into swapping my pants for tall boys of St. Ides, but now that Taaka-induced sleeve ripping leaves me feeling as chilly as a lanky-ass Otter Pop. Yet with the image of miniskirt-clad hoodrats marching up and down Del Playa Drive permanently burned into the university’s collective psyche, I have to wonder if doing shooters of cheap whiskey is the key to letting my man-hooters once again run free. In other words, is the liquid blanket that so many on the planet rely on really as toasty as a triple-layer Snuggie?
The textbook answer is that the booze jacket you get after five or six hot toddies is really just a bait-and-switch; alcohol dilates your blood vessels, pushing blood to the skin’s surface (which is the reason some people get a lovely glow when they’re shwasted). While that rush of blood does feel warm, it cools down far faster than if it was where it should be in your vital organs – you know, like that blackened liver floating around down there. That’s the simple reason letting your cock or box hang 10 during some 3 a.m. surfing in Arctic conditions feels fine at first, but ends in Tokyo-esque shaking when you get back on land.
But all of my vast doctorial knowledge aside, anecdotal evidence of getting warm and wasted permeates all societies. Just check out the general populace of frigid-ass Russia. Those fools drink vodka with everything they do, and that includes surviving the serious cold up there. Vodka is so plentiful in Russia that it’s apparently often used as a substitute for antifreeze in cars, so I suppose why not pump it into your veins for the same effect? Hell, Vice once reported a story on Russian zookeepers handing out shots to their captives to help them survive the worst of the winter. Apparently the smaller monkeys go apeshit off of just a toot or two, but the elephants are downing a bucket a day. Remember this that next time you’re trawling for that special someone…
Crazy motherfucking Russkies aside, the same hooch-heating principle is seen all over American streets. Go pay a visit to the transvestite hookers on Haley Street on a particularly icy night (more on this at a later date) and you can see those brosephs slam back fiery drinks like schnapps, grappa and Mad Dogs. Tipping back the bottle does physically make you warm for a bit, but more effectively, the sedative effects of getting permed help make you not care that you are freezing your ass off, or that you’re working the corner for that matter. It’s the reason anybody drinks Night Train and Thunderbird: that hoopty-ass shit is cheap as hell and brings the heat. In any case, I can say that slamming back a bottle of the right Train makes sleeping in a bush or on a roof a hell of a lot easier.
Still, the myth that drinking staves off cold persists, and there may actually be a method to the madness. While getting sloshed will cool you down more quickly under normal circumstances, it also can have positive effects in the opposite situation. For a person who is severely hypothermic, a little liquor can help thin the blood and keep it flowing for a little while longer. Ever seen a picture of a St. Bernard with a cask around its neck? The hairy beasts — first bred by monks in Berne, Switzerland, and especially adept at surviving snowy weather and finding people lost in the cold — did in fact carry around brandy and whatnot in those barrels for freezing Swiss to drink.
Avalanches and drink-delivering dogs aside, pairing short shorts with tall cans to stay warm is more of a psychological thing than an Amish heater for your insides. But doing the Mel Gibson on a Friday night is all about not giving a damn anyway, so is the worry of a little cold really going to prevent me from ripping my pants off in awkward situations? Hell no. Just be thankful we don’t live in Detroit.