Real Stuff: "Our Thing"


Y’know, I have a problem with this. Not the burglary – the assumption that teenagers have any great need for alcohol in the first place.

My circles never did. Doesn’t mean it was absent, but few people were drinking in significant quantity.

We’ve successfully changed the social equation so kids who smoke are largely considered idiots rather than cool. I think it’s time to start thinking about how we can achieve the same with kids who drink to excess just because they’ re getting away with something or think it shows they’re “adult” when it’s actually proving they’re far from.

Yeah, I know, this is a slice of the author’s life, at a time and in a place and so on. And yes, I’m being a bit idealistic about this. But I’d have been much, much happier if the word “troubles” in the very first panel was changed to “troubled”, past tense.

Be careful what expectations you set. Kids can read them, and will live up – or down – to them.

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Teenagers’ peers did not stigmatize smoking, $4 gas and big taxes on cigs did. Plenty of teens smoke and now some are starting and exclusively smoking e-cigs which is just mind boggling. I think for the most part HS drinking is overstated but college is not, where most ppl aren’t. 21 until years 3/4 and get sloshed most weekends.

The surefire way to get a child to want something is to forbid it. Stigmatization only works if being an outsider / part of an outsider peer group doesn’t appeal - and it does, a lot. Loosen up a bit, teach children that drinking is ok in moderation and you won’t have the binge drink / teen drink problem.

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Partly agree. We have something of a cultural standing wave in the US and I think it’s going to take a deliberate effort to break it. On the other hand, I agree that part of the attraction may simply be that it is forbidden. On the other other hand, stigmatization has worked with tobacco; it depends on the kind of stigmatization. Being an outsider doesn’t appeal if that type of outsider is classified as “loser”.

Partly agree too. Some do embrace “loser” status. They are lost and bloody hard to get back. And they do damage - to themselves and within their peergroup. That’s the worst part of stigmatization - children don’t have perspective to deal with it when it happens to them, and you do see a “well, fuck it all then” change happen sometimes. Smoking, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, “risky behavior”, personality problems, academic problems, nearly every emotional disorder, and I could on - in some way or another the foundation is a self-esteem issue. Paint a line and say once you cross that you are bad - and some will cross it, and believe they are bad.


Where I grew up, teenagers did have a great demand for alcohol. I shudder to think of the quantities we consumed. There were people in my circles who were hardened drinkers at the age of 16, guys who would drink 10 litres of beer and a bottle of vodka in an evening. Those were exceptional, but even I used to habitually drink 2-3 litres of beer in an evening. There were some who were smart enough not to take part in this madness, but most, me included, weren´t.
All of that is pretty horrifying when I think about it now but at the time I didn´t give much thought to it. In short: The teenage drinking doesn´t seem unrealistic to me.

I was straight-edge in high school but had many friends who would drink and would capitalize on this by checking the dumpsters of the local grocery stores where many students worked. You see, they would ‘accidentally’ drop cases of beer so they could be written off, these damaged cans were then placed in the dumpster where they could retrieve them after work. Often, a bottle of liquor would accompany them. My partner and I would retrieve these items while they were still at work and then sell them to people closer to our circle of friends. No-one was ever the wiser nor did they care about the dents or filth covering the cans.


A thought that keeps popping up when reading Real Stuff: “Christ, what an asshole.”


Often heavy drinking shows the teens have serious problems. In Def Backderf’s comic My Friend Dahmer, Derf notes Jeffrey Dahmer was getting drunk every day, to try to drown out his inner demons (he fantasized about having sex with cadavers.)

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My Friend Dahmer is amazing and everyone here should read it. Also available on Comixology on all platforms.

No sex, nudity, or even misogyny this time around, though. I was mildly surprised.

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Either that or they grow up in a drinking culture. If every teenage heavy drinker in my country turned out to be a serial killer we´d have a serious problem (in addition to teenage alcoholism).

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Fortunately I lived far enough out in the countryside that we could get served at our local pub aged 16 (we also worked there). In my opinion this worked pretty well, because we were drinking surrounded by neighbours and relatives, who’d make sure we didn’t get to far out of line.

In fact, I tend to agree that there’s something to be said for de-stressing alcohol to make it less interesting as a point of rebellion.

But I would like to see a reduction in the expectation that kids must drink – and drink stupidly – as a mandatory rite of passage. Hence my quibble with the strip’s language.


“Most” certainly wasn’t true at my school. Some, and some, certainly.

I would too. I don’t drink, have never been drunk, and have never been remotely tempted to try and get a buzz. I don’t have any moral objection to alcoholic drinks in and of themselves (I’ve tried dozens of different drinks myself, but I just can’t stand the taste of alcohol), though I think getting stupid drunk is a… well, stupid thing to do. But why should I knock it if I haven’t tried it? Plenty of people out there apparently enjoy intoxication, to the point where my preferences are in a vanishingly tiny minority when it comes to drinking.

Still, I think many recreational drinkers would be surprised at how much fun I have living without alcohol altogether. Doesn’t matter, really. Most people are gonna drink, and at some point or another, most people will eventually drink too much (or at least to the point where they later wish they hadn’t imbibed quite so much that one time). Nothing wrong with that, up to a point.

But yeah, anytime I turn my attention to what high schoolers and college-age kids are up to these days, all I ever hear about is somebody wringing their hands over the binge-drinking culture that has taken over America’s youth. But the kids don’t care, and the problem has gotten worse. I know I’m just the squarest of squares, getting all Church Lady about young people having some harmless fun getting their drunk on, but really: drinking till you puke is now considered perfectly normal, funny as hell, and not particularly dangerous.

And that’s a sorry state of affairs right there.

Google “WSU drinking” (washington state university) and prepare to see exactly how sorry things can get. I get technogeekagain’s point as well, but problem or not (and all the various degrees between) teen and young adult drinking is “a thing” imo.

To a certain extent, it’s been a thing for as long as there’s been a legal drinking age. There was a fairly depressing episode of This American Life about the heavy drinking culture at Penn State, and it was such a big deal (particularly in the wake of the Paterno/Sandusky scandal) that they revisited Penn State two years later.

Earlier this week, Emily Yoffe at Slate posted an article that tried to make the case that college-age women might improve their chances of avoiding rape by easing off on the drinking and partying. Predictably enough, Yoffe promptly got lambasted as a victim-blamer, both at Slate itself as well as elsewhere. And that kind of bummed me out. Yoffe kinda bent over backwards to reiterate time and again that victims aren’t to blame, but rapists are. And yet it comes across to me that some people are so invested in their freedom to drink themselves into oblivion that anyone who points out that Risky Behavior Is Risky gets painted as a rape apologist, no matter how much condemnation that person pours on the heads of rapists and would-be rapists and generally creepy opportunists who are careful to stay on the right side of the law, if only by a hair’s breadth.

It’s weird. Telling your kid “if you drink and drive you might kill or maim someone” is apparently sound advice, but if you tell your kid “if you drink too much, someone might take advantage of you (or you might lose enough inhibition to do something to someone else that you otherwise wouldn’t), so know your limit and don’t go impairing your judgment at parties,” you’re apparently sending the message that rape is a natural phenomenon as common and blameless and unavoidable as being caught out in the rain or stuck in traffic.

Of course, now this argument has been brought over here. Sorry about that, folks. Drink on.

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right. I see the issue as a subculture that would never have existed but for the imposed separation of the underaged which has (d)evolved over time. when we were both 18, my German friend who was visiting couldn’t understand our laws and told me “if you can walk up to a bar and ask for a beer, you’ll be served” in Germany (though I think this has changed since '93?) You could get beer in vending machines. point being, the abuse and “bad behavior” seems to stem partially from having to engage in sneaky, underhanded means just to obtain any alcohol at that age. (I’m told there was no organized crime in the US until prohibition, either, which seems like parallel behavior) There are no role models present to establish the merits of moderation. everyone is an unseasoned drinker with a body that is at it’s most tolerant to any abuse you might throw at it (I never even got hangovers until I was 25) and the drinking must be done at a clandestine location after obtaining the booze illegally. fast forward X years since the establishment of the legal age. is there any doubt about the outcome? every chance to drink becomes a full-blown bacchanal, that’s just how the risk vs return games out.

I have a lot of great memories of underaged drinking. The fact that none of them involved strolling to the pub and sitting in a controlled environment is what turned it into an adventure.

[I’d posit that because kids aren’t allowed to do fuck-all anymore, it makes them up the ante when they finally do cut loose, but that’s an even less scientific argument than the one I’m trying to make.]

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