Public Service Announcement.

This is not a chapter. I apologize to anyone that got all excited. This is also not an announcement that I'm quitting the story. The next chapter will come out on Monday, as scheduled.

I am writing this because I got a review from one of my younger readers asking what it's like to be drunk because she never has been. I wanted to answer that and also to speak to drinking in general a little bit. Oh, and thank you for your review, ma'am.

First of all, drinking is different for every person. At its basest level, alcohol consumption lowers your inhibitions. That's fancy speak for the fact that it smacks duct tape over the mouth of that little voice in the back of your head that keeps you from doing the stupid stuff that randomly crosses your mind every day. I am lucky because that little voice in the back of my head is really, REALLY loud and somehow can shout pretty clearly through duct tape. Trust me. I have arguments with that voice. I'm not crazy, though. My Mommie told me so. *grin*

Joking aside, though, it's hard to predict what drinking will be like for each person. Your base personality comes out in force, sometimes in very obnoxious ways. If you're normally depressed, you get more depressed. If you're normally angry, you get angrier, and sometimes violent. If you're normally flirty…yeah…that often doesn't end well, especially if you have a significant other. Sometimes, you'll learn things about yourself. Sometimes they're things you'd rather you never knew. *grin*

Still, drinking can be a lot of fun, especially if you follow the rules.

Rule number one: Wait until you are of the legal age to drink wherever you live. I did this and I have never regretted it, even when I was a teen and refraining from drinking until I was 21. For one, I never had to worry about calling my mom from a pay phone because I was drunk and stuck somewhere or had wrecked my car because I drove drunk. THAT kind of scenario could give me nightmares. And it's not that my mom was strict or cruel. I just had so much respect for her, even as a teen, that I couldn't stand to disappoint her to that level.

Rule number two: Always have a designated driver that you can trust or drink at home. I follow this rule religiously. Lucky for me, I have a husband who doesn't like to drink because it gives him bad motion sickness and he is often happy to be my designated driver. However, even before I knew him, if I didn't have a designated driver, I didn't drink. At all. Even if everyone around me was drinking. Also, the trust factor is really important. I recently made arrangements with a friend to be the designated driver when I was out with a group of friends. Luckily, after about three drinks I noticed that she was drinking too and was able to stop immediately and let the alcohol work through my system before it was time to leave because she was not holding up her end of the deal. Had I not noticed her drinking, that could have ended very badly.

Rule number three: Don't drink when you have other responsibilities. If it's Thursday night and you have to be at work at eight the next day, it's generally not a good idea to get drunk. (Unlike a certain main character I can think of…and see where that's gotten her?) While I generally don't suffer from hangovers, I am the exception to the rule. I do not drink when I have any kind of work before noon the next day, whether it's my day job or a face painting job. (I am a professional face painter on the side.) Whether it's a plane to catch, college classes, your little sister's Christmas bells concert, I don't care. If you have something important to do that a hangover might interfere with, don't drink. There will be plenty of other opportunities. Really. :)

Rule number four: Don't drink too much too fast. Alcohol takes anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour to get into your system completely, depending on what and how much was in your stomach when you started. Yes, eating before drinking DOES make a difference. It's not an old wives' tale. You can always drink a little more once what you've already had kicks in. It's exceedingly harder to expel what you've already drunk, especially if it's already in your blood stream. Not following this rule is what leads to death due to alcohol poisoning. It is a reality. Don't risk it.

Rule number five: Don't be dumb. This is a really broad rule and can encompass a lot of things. For example, don't drink to get wasted the first time you ever drink. Take it slow. Learn whether you're a lightweight or could drink an Irish sailor under the table. Be HONEST with yourself about which one you are and drink accordingly in the future. If, at any point during your drinking, you have any doubt whatsoever about what you're doing, stop. If you're too drunk to analyze why you're having doubts, you probably needed to stop anyway. If you can analyze the feeling, do so. Not listening to that niggling doubt in the back of your head gets us all in trouble when we're sober. You can double that for when you're drunk. Only drink around people you know you can trust. This includes people you can trust to not hurt your feelings the next day about the stupid stuff you're likely to do when you're drunk. *grin* Mainly, to follow this rule, use as much common sense as you can. Analyze your situation for any potential problems before you start drinking and if anything could go wrong within a reasonable doubt, be smart and don't drink.

As for me, personally, I love to drink. It's fun. As I sit typing this, I have a drink at my side, my favorite, Malibu Rum and pineapple orange juice. I am 32 years old (no, I don't mind you people knowing my age at this point), I am sitting at home with nothing planned for tomorrow besides relaxing with my husband. I have been told I am a funny/fun drunk. I am a normally happy person so drinking makes me happier, and sometimes downright comedic. I am NOT a lightweight. It can take upwards of sixteen ounces of Malibu Rum to get me good and drunk on an empty stomach and if I've had something to eat within the last hour, drinking is a waste of liquor for me. I hate beer and generally stick with the harder liquors, although I've developed a liking for hard cider recently…

All of that being said, please, please, please always drink responsibly. It is honestly not that hard and it is sooo worth it in the end. Hugs to everyone, and I hope I answered your question well, my dear reader. :D

This has been a public service announcement from your local, friendly FalconStorm.