The Bodacious Belgrade Blog

August 29, 2008

Drinking Age 18

Filed under: Uncategorized — bunitingi @ 3:08 pm
Tags: ,

So apparently, from reading Google news, I’ve gathered there’s a big hoopla over the idea put forth by the Deans from a whole slew of colleges of lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18.

And of course there is a bit of a backlash.

Since I’m about to have a child myself, Maja and I have discussed this kind of thing.

I would very much like to hear from my American friends their thoughts on this.

I believe that for all of my European friends this is a complete non-issue, as they were all allowed to drink legally at 18. (at least) Hence, at the end of the day, what interests me the most about this is the fact that it’s a cultural signifier.

For the record my stance under 21 drinking is very simple:

1. I don’t know a single person who wasn’t able to drink quite healthily before 21. I did it, almost everyone I know did it. The only kids I know who didn’t were personally uninterested and wouldn’t have regardless of age or peer pressure.

2. I am not imposing any stupid drinking limit on my child. Yes, if he is 15 and wants a beer with dinner he is welcome to have one.

This last bit will be shocking to some. However, i’ve seen this work quite well and i don’t believe in setting up a lust for the forbidden.

“Well, well, you just wait, your liberal attitude will produce a drug snorting wild children who doesn’t know boundaries!” (I especially throw in the boundary part for my wife, who absolutely can’t stand that particular term. I of all people have brought that word up in conversations and have discovered I cannot use that term to get my point across.)

Not that we’ll be in Serbia when my boy is 15, but here of course that isn’t a liberal attitude, it’s just how it’s done. There is no drinking age limit. and for all I know kids are somewhere hanging out getting smashed, but I don’t see them. I can see them hanging out with beers, but I don’t actually see them smashed. I’m SURE it’s happening just it went on when i was in high school.

There was a giant 5 days Beerfest here in Belgrade 2 weekends ago. Just down the road from us. Here’s an aerial view:

Belgrade Beerfest

Belgrade Beerfest

It was in a giant park by the river. The northern section was an amusement park, with all sorts of rides, and the southern section which is what you see in the pictures, is a giant field circled by stands of various brewers. at the southern most point is a giant stage where all sorts of bands play. It was funny, we’d be at some table, chatting and drinking (Maja even came!) and a band would be playing and all of a sudden every person around us would suddenly break out singing for some chorus and then as suddenly as it happened, go right back to conversation on a dime.

And in all of this, other then Guinness, which even then wasn’t quite the same, there was No Decent Beer in whole damn thing. Me and Eastern European beer are just going to have to live begrudgingly with one another.

It was huge and everyone was there, including tons of teenagers, many crowded into the stage area dancing to the bands, and others sitting in teenage packs on the ground in the more spacious parts of the park. They had cups of beer just like everyone else.

And yet, none were noticeably drunk, they were all actually quite mellow. None were gulping down beer in that voracious frenzy teenagers used to when I was in high school and they could get ahold of it. (I tried my first beer bong sometime probably in my sophomore or junior year, and puked it right back up exactly 45 seconds after it. Beer bongs… ugh. What in idiotic idea.)

Picture the vision you have of a bunch of high schoolers suddenly given all the beer they could ever want, (BRO!!!! PARTY TIME!!!!) and this would be the opposite of that picture.

I’m not saying there’s not alcohol problems among youth here. But most of the people i know who are my age drank beer when they were younger at the dinner table with their family, and never had the lustful, fraternity party-like relationship with alcohol that American youth have. There are high school parties that got crazy, no doubt, youth will ALWAYS have high school parties that go out of control (Boy you should see some of the discussions Maja and I have over that one… a bunch of 16 year olds want to rage in a house party while their parents are out of town, better NOT be MY house. Maja feels it’s important that they simply put everything back the way they found it. We must have gone to very different teenage parties)

So, to sum up, i’ve personally noticed here that teenagers have a much, MUCH more mellow attitude towards alcohol, the friends i have here agree and never had a college-like lustful raging wildness with it. I don’t wish to produce a child who will overindulge and this is a concern. I have a certain side… and i’ve seen some s** go down… but ANY TIME i have seen an attempt to curtail behavior by forbidding it, it simply produces more desire to do it, and the secret doing of it which then produced pathology.

So no, no drinking age.

But can America do it? I doubt it. America produces lust for consumption in everything. That is a fundamental quality of America. There is no one in the entire world who misses that one of the defining traits of America is producing a Lust For Consumption.

And our children reflect this. Can 18 year drink legally and end up being more responsible because of it? I don’t know, but it’s sure not working now.



  1. The thing is, this is not new. In Texas, the drinking age was 18 up until the mid-1980s when Mothers Against Drunk Driving got hold of the state legislature by the short-n-curlies and made them raise it to 21. The proposal by the 100 colleges in question is merely reversing a failed policy instituted 20 years ago, much as Prohibition was repealed 14 years after its inception.

    This is not groundbreaking stuff. The fact that some believe it is only shows how ignorant Americans are of their own history.

    Personally, I felt no pull towards alcohol in my twenties. However, that was partially because I knew so many people who had wrecked their life with it. I don’t think it mattered at all what the drinking age was. There are alcoholics who started their journey when the age was 18, and those who started when it was 21.

    This should be a complete non-issue. If someone can be trained to kill foreigners and be trusted to vote for elected officials, the idea that they cannot be trusted to decide whether or not they will have a beer is asinine in the extreme.

    Comment by matthew — August 29, 2008 @ 11:04 pm | Reply

  2. I didn’t bother to bring up the entire go to war thing, but yes, if you’re old enough to be sent off to kill other human beings, you should be allowed to have a bloody drink.

    The alcoholic issue is a tough one, as one doesn’t want to see one’s child become an alcoholic, although i believe strongly that there are many mitigating factors notleast of which are how we bring him up and his views and impressions of my own alcohol consumption.

    Comment by bunitingi — August 29, 2008 @ 11:25 pm | Reply

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