Having a nice little drinkypoo with friends is one of the privileges of being a grownup (if you choose to indulge in it). Of course drinking can go too far, and some people can't have one without having way too many ... which is a sign that perhaps drinking has crossed over the line between "occasional pleasure" and "major problem."
But alcohol, no matter how moderately you imbibe, has undeniable effects on the body. Lifehacker's rounded up an impressively exhaustive list of many of them. Wondering why your similarly sized best friend can drink you under the table, or why a glass of wine with dinner won't have much of an effect but the same glass on an empty stomach gives you quite a buzz?
Here, some fun booze facts to explain some of your bizarro behavior. Cheers!
Fact 1: The walk of shame is a given for girls.
Hangovers are caused by dehydration and possibly by your body's inability to clean up after the party, as it were; enzymes that neutralize alcohol and get rid of its byproducts have a lot to do with how loopy you get and how awful you feel the next day. Hand those enzymes a big job, and they won't do as well ... and you'll be cursing the inventor of the martini the next day. Women have 70 to 80 percent less of those alcohol avengers than men. Add in the fact that women tend to have more body fat and are smaller than the guys, and that explains the "walk of shame" phenomenon.
Fact 2: Your parents are to blame for that walk of shame.
Your genes also dictate your level of those enzymes, which is why your teensy friend might be able to hold her liquor much better than you can.
Fact 3: Alcohol racially discriminates.
As many as half of all people of Asian descent have a mutated form of the enzyme that cleans up alcohol byproducts in the body that makes them flush, and sometimes have more severe reactions like heart palpitations or dizziness, when they drink. (Some antibiotics also do this, which is why you can't drink when you are taking them.)
Fact 4: Eating is like gastric bypass surgery to alcohol. Which is so weird.
Eating before or while having a few drinks tends to blunt the effects of the alcohol. That's not because the food somehow "absorbs" the alcohol, but because the muscle that lets food empty into the small intestine shuts down after a big meal, giving your stomach enzymes more time to work on both the food and the drink.
Fact 5: Alcohol does more good than bad.
Study after study says that drinking alcohol extends your life. It might not be something specific in the alcohol that does that, some researchers are now thinking; it may be the social nature of gathering with friends over a few drinks. We're social animals, and it might be our connections with our bar buddies that do us more good than anything we might consume while we're there ... which is also good news for nondrinkers, as those effects can be had just as well over coffee or smoothies.
Fact 6: Booze is bad for friendships.
But alcohol can also cause ridiculous fights with our friends. It inhibits our ability to think things through and makes other people's actions seem intentional. When your friend steps on your foot with her spiky heels at the bar, it can seem a lot less accidental and a lot more of a cause to get angry than it does when you're stone cold sober. Couple that with alcohol's well-known ability to lessen inhibitions and: Girl Fight!
Just like caffeine and even ibuprofen, alcohol is a drug, and it should be treated with caution. But it's not a scourge upon the earth, either.
Image via Stuart Webster/Flickr