My friends and I have developed a systematic description of alcohol’s effect on human consciousness quite tirelessly over the years, beginning sometime in 1987, right up until the point when we realized it was killing us.
Basically, the idea is that as you drink, you delve deeper into your evolutionary brain. So as we turn off certain aspects of our brains, our consciousness devolves to the point that we’re basically exhibiting animal behaviors. We have called the system:
The Cult of the Claw
Level One: Human Being
The human part of our brain is the part that is civilized. This is the part of our consciousness that knows — as in Larry Miller’s example — that we need to go home and go to bed because we have to work in the morning. You may have one drink, and possibly even two, with no danger to this level of consciousness. However, at some point (depending on the size of your liver, your body’s mass, your tolerance to alcohol, and so on), you will have the drink that we in the Cult describe as “The Hankering”.
Now, people believe that it is quite easy to leave the human level of consciousness, but we in the Cult think that it is actually quite difficult to leave that level. However, if you keep drinking, at some point (depending on the speed of your consumption and the previously mentioned factors) you will have the that we call “The Hammer”. The Hammer will take away your resolve to stop drinking entirely. (This is the point in Miller’s routine where three hours of sleep will do.)
Level Two: Monkey
The Hammer leads, inevitably, to “The Inebriation,” leading you to the next layer down, the monkey layer.
Now, this part of our mind understands that there are consequences to actions. It’s social too. The monkey might want to say… have sex with your best friend’s sibling, but it probably wouldn’t because it would understand that it would get punished if it did. If it thought it could get away with it, then perhaps it would proceed. It is the part of the mind that buys rounds for that person at the end of the bar, because, as Miller says, “you like their face.”
The monkey, in other words, is the ego.
At some point, you will have the drink that we, in the Cult, call “The Wedge”. This beverage totally frees monkey, and is the part of the evening that is most fun. It is the part that Miller spends most of his routine describing. “We’re going to Florida!” Now, if you continue to drink, then you are entering dangerous, dangerous territory.
Level Three: Lizard
You guessed it, all you lovers of Freudian mythology. If monkey is the ego, then lizard is the Id. Id is scary times. The lizard is all our basic impulses. The pleasure principle as Freud called it. Sex. Eating. Sex. Sunning yourself. Did I mention the sex? Anyway, it’s all that good physical sensation stuff.
It’s also about territoriality, and that means fighting.
The good news is that to release the Lizard (capital “L” definitely, there), you must have the drink that we call “The Sledge”. This is usually enough to render you incapable of doing much harm, though in some cases, those with very high tolerance to alcohol can continue to function and cause immeasurable damage. (St. Patrick’s Day.) However, our experience is The Sledge usually prevents Mr. (or Ms.) Lizard from following up on his (or her) desires; my best example of this is a friend who was once carried by non-Sledge consuming companions past a female residence at a mid-sized university in Ontario, where he screamed in his Lizard-addled voice “I want to f*#k you all!” That was no exaggeration. If he’d been capable, he would have gone floor-by-floor, room-by-room. That was pure Lizard. Luckily, Lizard could not stand without assistance.
If you continue drinking, then eventually you will be able to incapacitate the Lizard.
Level Four: Fish
Incapacitating the Lizard may sound good, in theory, but what it means is that you have now turned off most of the functions of your brain. Luckily, you still have your brain stem, keeping you breathing. The drink that causes this is “The Icthyolization”.
With any luck, someone will turn you on your side when you pass out. (Note: those with lower tolerances may pass out in the Lizard level, which is preferable.) Otherwise, that final drink is what we call “The Mourning”.
Here’s a handy chart to help you keep all of this straight:
*Beaufort-style scale on boozologist’s equations of body weight, liver size and endurance, plus time scale. (Not to exceed ten hours in this case.) A mixologist was consulted in the weighing of this scale.
If you would like to learn more about The Cult of the Claw, then there is an entire novel based on this whacky notion. It’s called Marvellous Hairy, and really, you should just go ahead and buy it at Amazon, on Kindle, B&N, Smashwords, etc.