I think it's time to rethink the drunk dial. In an era of e-mails, IMs, clipped cell phone conversations, text messages, blogs, we've lost an endearing trait in communication: sloppy enthusiasm. We either zap people with idiotic emoticons or send friends well-considered e-mails. Spontaneity is gone. Forethought and truncated missives rule.
But the drunk dial fights through all this. The drunk dial apologizes to no one: It's on a mission and it must be heard! No matter that there are people with actual jobs back in the Eastern time zone. The drunk dial doesn't care if it wakes up the house: Hell, wake up the neighborhood! Ample doses of beer and whisky have combined with the night air to create ideas that must be heard: I love you, I love the MSU basketball team, I hate Duke, that one time in college was the greatest, you have to must to absolutely must come out to L.A., Mike just said something unbelievable at the bar, I really want to make fun of you right now.
There's no common courtesy to the drunk dial. There's no warming up, no "how are you? how's the weather? gosh, is it really 3:30 out there?" It travels, laserlike, to the heart of the matter. But don't mistake this efficiency for coldness. There is great warmth to the drunk dial. When you've just consumed enough Miller Lite to qualify you for class-B stock in the company, there are only important things you need to say to important people. And you say them in tones that convey the vital nature of the call: "Amos, goooodammmit, get on the next plane to L.A. Forget New York and Hoboken and real estate, just get on the plane and be here by noon tomorrow! Remember that time when you thought you were locked out of Joe's car but it was really someone else's car? Oh, sweet Moses, that was funny. So have you bought your ticket yet?"
Now, I realize there's a dark side to the drunk dial. Some folks use this time to tell that ex what they really think of them, or make other calls of a harassing nature. Let me say that the drunk dial should only be used for good. Use it to tell someone you love them, or tell them a joke, or call and just laugh maniacally and hang up. There is a wrong way to make the drunk dial, so I offer some tips:
- Match the call to the caller. Is your friend a night owl (Oscar)? Able to laugh at anything (Amos)? Thinking about sports as much as you do (Schmidt)? I wouldn't call Jon Brunt to expound on my theory about the magic of sidewalks. I'd save that one for Oscar. But I would call Jon to check up on his Vegas preparations or reminisce about how much he hated being ENC.
- The only time courtesy is called for is when the callee has a baby. While Katie has told me repeatedly I can call at 4 in the morning, I'd never be able to forgive myself if I woke up Jackie.
- Know when to end the call -- and then extend it just a bit longer. I mean, you are smashed. Make it count.
- Have the forethought to call from a location where the callee can hear you. If you're in a deafening bar, go outside. What's the point if the other person has no clue what you're talking about?
- Follow up the drunk dial with an e-mail the next day, just to confirm what both parties said and assure the callee that you in fact survived the evening.
So, I hope you'll look more kindly upon the drunk dial next time you receive one. If it's from me, it's because something crazy just happened or popped into my head and I just have to share it with you. And please feel free to call me at any time of night.
Especially if you're back in the Midwest, because it'll only be, like, 11:30 here.
Many congrats to Joe's cousin Chuck, who's wife just had a baby girl: Maya! And more congrats to Joe for his big MSU recruiting scoop! And congrats to Katie -- just because.