That venerable journal so beloved of wannabe intellectuals at airport news shops everywhere, New Scientist, recently reported on the findings from a team at the University of Bristol (cider capital of Great Britain, incidentally) who tested drunk university students (the easiest and most cheaply bought group available if the academics involved were honest) and discovered what we've all found out (unfortunately) for ourselves: that drinking improves the appearance of those around you.
Despite rather grandly and optimistically describing the study as a 'controlled experiment', they managed to corral 84 young heterosexual students ('control' hardly seems appropriate here, more like a pub crawl funded by an ARC or NMRC grant), encouraged them to get pissed and then asked them all to rate the attractiveness of people in photographs. Both drunk men and drunk women rated the faces as being more attractive than did those who were sober, researchers reported. Shock, horror.
The beer goggle effect was not limited to the opposite sex, as the sozzled students also rated people from their own sex as more attractive. One of the egg-heads thought this was 'surprising' but it is hardly so. How many of us have said, or be told, "I love you maaaaate, I really do," in moments of extreme intoxication?
I'll share with you one of my own Beer Goggle stories. You can blame PoetSquib for this, seeing as she'd already got me reminiscing about the joys of backpacker-funded accommodation standards in the Old Dart.
It was London, 1991.
A vodka jelly party, my first.
In a flat crammed with New Zealanders in Hammersmith - definitely not my first.
A funny Kiwi rugby player and I dillied and dallied throughout the evening, punctuated by an ear-splitting soundtrack of the Commitments, Red Hot Chili Peppers, U2 and Tom Petty. He rescued one of the housemates who found that the stairs leapt up to meet her after she stood up from the couch and fell down them, breaking her collarbone. I, on the other hand, joined a bunch of other jelly imbibers in using a busted ironing board to surf down the stars after the rescue.
Anyhow, he grew hunkier as the jelly became scarcer. He got my phone number and rang me every day at work the next week, asking me out. I agreed to meet him Saturday night at Kings Cross station, 6:30pm, in order to go to another party, thrown by another dozen Kiwis wedged in a two bedroom flat in Marylebone.
Lordy me. There he was - clad in an All Blacks Rugby jersey (no surprise), a Maori-style tattoo visible on his neck (a real surprise; how much jelly did I inhale?) which seemed to be larger than his actual head. Jeans - standard issue for most of us penniless Antipodeans dwelling in London in between backpacking trips - and therefore no surprise. The canoe-sized, white loafers were, in all honesty a surprise. A horrific one.
Thanks to politeness and a good upbringing, I didn't feign illness or turn on my doc martin (ex-Savoy kitchen hand issue) heels, but reluctantly accompanied him on the tube.
Several hours later, doing my best to mingle, he found me, clamped me to his side and said, "How about we crash on the front steps, eh?" Considering it was November, he was stoned and I was not wearing my beer, jelly or electric spinach goggles, I declined. After all, I'd stood it until three am and told him I had to get up early the next morning (Sunday? Who gets up early on Sunday when they work for a bank?) and said, yes, I'd call him.
I'd met Paul, a lawyer, that same evening and even though he was pretty drunk, he seemed rather nice.
He didn't call me back after our first date, so I suspect that the goggles I'd refused to put on again for the Kiwi rugby player had been passed to him.....