Welcome back to AVQ&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. Consider this a prompt to compare notes on your interface with pop culture, to reveal your embarrassing tastes and experiences, and to ponder how our diverse lives all led us to convene here together. Got a question you’d like us and the readers to answer? Email us at email@example.com.
This week’s question: What fictional pop culture character would you like to be your drinking buddy?
I lifted my taste for an Old Fashioned from Don Draper, but he’s too much of a brooding boozer to be much of an entertaining drinking buddy. Instead, I’d rather take a three-martini lunch—or a four-whiskey meeting—with Don’s colleague Roger Sterling. He’s the consummate accounts man, and as such makes a career out of showing people a good time. (And there wouldn’t be many lulls in the conversation, since he has so many quips and anecdotes that he filled a book with ’em.) Sure, there are some uncomfortably antiquated notions of “fun” rattling around in Sterling’s brain, and his cutting loose masks as much pain and confusion as any character on Mad Men, but at least the guy’s philosophy on drinking is sound. He’s such a born advertiser, he even turns admonishment about proper cocktail decorum into a tagline: “Enjoy it.”
While I’m tempted to say Ron Swanson just so I can link to this gif again, I think I’m going to go with one of the actual stars of the movie Drinking Buddies, Jake Johnson. I wouldn’t be drinking with Johnson himself, of course, but with New Girl’s Nick Miller, a man who both knows how to drink a barrel full of alcohol and have the appropriately angry inane discussions during and afterward. While I can’t say I’d be too kind to Nick given recent developments in New Girl world, it’s for that same reason that I think he needs a good night of drunken distraction. And, hey, while I might not be able to take away the sting of recent relationship muck-ups, I do know a whole lot about drinking cheap beer.
I can’t remember the last time I played a drinking game, but this question instantly reminded me of flip cup’s superiority to beer pong. It’s the difference between throwing dirty balls in your beer for the chance to drink and a fast-paced, team-centric opportunity to chug an entire beer and demolish your opponents. I also think it allows for more yelling. (Bonus.) So of course I’m looking to tag along with The Gang from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia as they attempt to win Flipadelphia—the city-wide flip cup tournament. I wouldn’t even hold the 10-year ban—earned after poisoning the opposing team—against them. After all, what’s the point of a drinking game if you’re not winning? Flip, flip, Flipadelphia!
I thought of a lot of people from pop culture who like to drink, but I suspect boozing with them might take us down some dark roads. I want to be with a fun drunk, a bon vivant and raconteur, which is why I’d choose Mame Dennis, as portrayed by Rosalind Russell in 1958’s Auntie Mame. She knows her liquor, has a lot of good stories, hangs out with interesting people, and has the kind of joie de vivre that alcohol enhances. Her doofus nephew can scram, though.
I’m not much of a drinker, which means it can be tough to hang out with groups of really intoxicated people. That said, if I’m going to do it, I’d like to do it right, and hang out with Eastbound & Down’s Kenny Powers and his manservant Stevie. I would enjoy Kenny giving me shit for not drinking enough, but I also wouldn’t be low man on the totem pole. I also unabashedly enjoy drinks that might traditionally described as “girly,” giving everyone around a chance to make fun of me even more. So basically I want to have a terrible, fun time.
This is reflective of who I want to go drinking with in real life: my best friend, Melanie. But as she’s not fictional, I’ll go with another broad who makes me happy: Ilana Glazer from Broad City. I need drinking companions who can outdrink me, make me laugh, and provide adventure; and as Melanie is the Ilana to my Abbi, I know I’d have a good time—and probably not remember most of it—and then wake up wearing my jeans, “Hungry Like The Wolf” stuck in my head, with bleary memories of bursting into tears in the bathroom.
Most of my colleagues picked characters who are accomplished drinkers, but I’m more interested in getting wasted with someone who never comes off as a drunk. So after recently getting hooked on Twin Peaks, my pick would be Agent Dale Cooper. He might seem like a straitlaced drinking buddy, but I suspect that after a few beverages, I’d have him musing on great truths of human nature—or at least telling me about his latest crazy dream. In any case, I want to see what Cooper is like when he puts aside his solemn duty as an officer of the federal government and lets loose a little. Yes, our night on the town might be routinely interrupted when Cooper dictates notes to Diane on his iPhone, but all that will be worth it when, at 4 a.m., we stumble into the local greasy spoon for a damn fine slice of cherry pie.
I’m following John’s tip and deciding to get drunk with The Cigarette Smoking Man from The X-Files, Benjamin Linus from Lost, and Number One from The Prisoner. My main goal when drinking with anyone is to get them to divulge their worst secrets to me. It’s why I’m such a terrible friend and such a great blackmailer. But, c’mon, you can’t tell me that sitting around a table at the local pub with these three wouldn’t result in some crazy stories and/or several earth-shattering revelations that would make one question everything he believed about the cosmos? Or, at the very least, they could swap stories about who had the worst time of it trying to run a giant global conspiracy that ended up running them.
I want to be entertained by my drunk friends, and I can’t think of a more entertaining drunk than Leslie Knope. Parks And Recreation is the rare sitcom that regularly gets its characters drunk—not as a heavy-handed message, not as exaggerated silliness, but because that’s what a close-knit group of co-workers does to blow off some steam. And while the show’s gotten laughs about nearly ever cast member’s drunk personality (or Ron Swanson’s seemingly inexhaustible tolerance), when tightly wound, rule-following Leslie cuts loose, she makes her inebriation count. Expect a night out with Leslie to involve some combination of crazy/terrible dancing, the English language degenerating into phrases like “helpy to hop out” and “not meven clarse,” and eventually an enthusiastic singalong of “Everybody Pants Now!,” as the always-in-control political striver veers far, far out of control. And, of course, the morning will bring a hangover cure that’s certain to involve a big plate of waffles.
I’m not much of a drinker, so I would require a buddy who could keep me entertained without objecting when he notices that I’m not even trying to keep pace with him. Make mine Withnail, the character played by Richard E. Grant in the 1987 movie Withnail And I who was described by one critic as someone combining the images of Keith Richards and George Sanders. Ideally, we could take in some event like SXSW together, so that I could solicit his opinion of the bands and the movies in between taking in the local color and accepting challenges from the locals. (“Balls! I’ll swallow it and run a mile!”) The only question is which one of us gets us home, since driving is one of the few things I’m worse at than drinking.
I know Game Of Thrones is all the rage, and I can’t deny that I’m a big fan—or that I’ve been reading George R. R. Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire books for a long time now. But I’ve been into epic fantasy since I was a kid, which makes me want to go back to my roots when finding a fictional character to go drinking with: Barak, the Viking-like warrior of David Eddings’ The Belgariad and The Malloreon. I grew up reading those series, and while they’re full of colorful, charismatic characters, I think Barak—loud, boisterous, witty, yet goodhearted—would be the most fun to throw down a few foaming tankards of ale with. And his ability to turn into a bear would certainly come in handy if the tavern revelry gets a little out of hand. Granted, he can’t turn into a bear unless the person he’s ordained by fate to protect—farmboy-turned-sorcerer-king Belgarion—is in danger, which means the mostly humorless Belgarion would have to be there, too. But every drinking party needs a straight man, so I’m cool with that.
If there’s one man I know I’d have an epic night with, it’s Sterling Malory Archer. The super-spy is well known for drinking heavily on and off the job, but it’s his after-hours carousing that appeals to me. He’s basically a walking Id, leaving hilarious destruction in his wake, and I think watching all that unfold could make for some serious entertainment (just hearing some of his insults first hand would be awesome). Sure, he’s kind of a dick to his friends, and might possibly leave me in a hotel with an accidentally fired bullet in my spleen, but that seems worth the risk for the possibility of some adventures in espionage while downing well-made cocktails.
Do characters who are dead in their fictional universes count? I hope so, because there’s no one I’d rather knock one back with than The Vampire Diaries’ dearly departed Alaric Saltzman. He's not the kind of person who wants to go out and get rowdy; a quiet bar and a full bottle of bourbon is all he needs, and that's just my style. His knowledge of American history (both human and supernatural) means he’d be an excellent conversation partner, regaling me with stories of history both real and unimaginable, his snark keeping them from being too dry. Plus, if a gang of vampires burst in looking to start trouble, who better to watch my back than an accomplished vampire hunter? Alaric is a guy so memorable for his drinking companionship that his best friend Damon still reserves a seat for him at the local bar, even after his death. That’s the kind of drinking action I want in on.
Even when I went drinking with my buddies on a semi-regular basis, back in the days before I was married with a child and still had money to burn on booze, I was never really one to toss ’em back in any significant fashion. I was always the one who drank two or three, tops, and then sat back and watched with amusement as the people around me got completely shit-faced. As such, I’d like to have someone around who I could count on to make me laugh without fail, so I’m going to go with one of the Balowskis from The Young Ones, and if I’ve got to narrow it down to one, it’s got to be Jerzei Balowski. Not that it really matters all that much which one I pick, since they’re all played by Alexei Sayle, anyway, but Jerzei’s the one we got to know best over the course of the series’ run. He may or may not have been Russian, but he’s definitely the one who most enjoyed the opportunity to toss back a beverage with the boys.
Any drinking night for me stands a fifty-fifty chance of ending in miserable existential despair, so I think I’m going to go with Calamity Jane from Deadwood for my pick. A drunk with a filthy mouth and a lively soul, Jane is one of my favorite characters from the show (a show which is not short for drinking buddies, come to think of it), and hanging out with her would mean I’d have somebody to insult me if I ever got to feeling sorry for myself. Or just insult me on general principle, which would suit me fine. I mean, sure, drinking with her would mean I’d be enabling her crippling alcoholism, but anything for a good time, really.