Sunday, July 03, 2005

Burnt toast

Just a short note to anyone who might want to take me out for a drink sometime: don’t feel slighted if I fail to do the “cheers” thing.

The obligatory clinking of glasses to commence a drinking session is something that trips me up at most alcohol-guzzling get-togethers. It isn’t so much that I object to the ritual on principle (though I do), it’s more that I always forget all about it and earn the ire of co-drinkers in the process. In the latest unfortunate incident I was at the Turquoise Cottage (yea, the same that’s been made famous in the blogosphere by The Compulsive Confessor) with friends, and my cocktail was a little late in arriving (not, as I like to think, because it was an unusually complex and noble concoction but because they mixed up orders and had to go back to redo mine). So there I was waiting with Buddha-like patience, vaguely wondering why my friends hadn’t yet started on their drinks. They had the glasses in front of them, yet they were merely playing about with the little umbrella thingajigs and looking formal. A jabberwock more sensitive to these little etiquettes might have perceived that they were waiting for my drink to appear so the toast could be made. But I didn’t realise this, and so when the waiter arrived I snatched the Planter’s Punch right off his tray and half-finished it with the first gulp. Then I looked up to see stricken faces all around me.

“Jai, how could you!”

“The uncouth swine, when will he ever learn the norms of civilised behaviour?”

“Their fifth wedding anniversary and you’ve ruined it!”

Geez people, it’s just a drink, it isn’t a formal supervillains’ convention to mark the capture and destruction of James Bond or Batman or Austin Powers. So lighten up. And cheers!

P.S. For your erudition, here’s more on
the toast.


  1. Consider yourself lucky that your friends are not Armenians. Their toasts are so numerous and so long-winded and elaborate, you'd be through with several drinks before one toast ends. No one's spared, there are toasts to parents, grandparents, current lovers, former lovers, yadda, yadda.

    On the plus side, they are incredibly generous hosts, great fun to be with, and have very well-stocked bars.

  2. what? Jai? Youre NOT Armenian?
    you lying scumbag! (sobs, flings drink into Jabberwocks face)

  3. You haven't been to a Catholic wedding, I presume, where you not only wait until the toastmaster raises the toast, followed by the groom's reply, then the bride's... but also stand through the entire proceedings (duration - 10 minutes upwards). The 3 sips of wine are very little compensation for it all.

  4. From Miss.Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behaviour:

    Why do people clink their glasses together after a toast? How many people am I supposed to clink with before I can take a sip?

    For some reason, there are great many more legends and customs associated with drinking than with, for e.g., the taking of vitamins.

    One story about the clinking of glasses is that the purpose is to spill each person's wine into the glass of the other, for assurance that nobody is being poisoned (or everyone is).

    Another story is that the custom of clinking glasses originated in the Middle Ages when any alcoholic drink was supposed to contain actual "spirits" such as the demons in "demon rum", who, when imbibed, in habited the host's body, causing the imbiber to do things he would not ordinarily do. Since bells and other sounds were thought to drive spirits away, the clinking of glasses was thought to drive away the "spirits".

    Nowadays, it is better to touch the glasses of those next to you, or even better merely to raise your glass.

    What if someone drinks to my health?
    There is something more gauche than refusing to drink a toast, and that is drinking a toast to oneself. Since you are the object of all these liquid good wishes, all you have to do - in fact, all you should do-is to sit there, hands in lap, and smile demurely while everyone else drinks to you


  5. Thanks Z. Unfortunately no one ever drinks to my health. I did once laugh very impolitely though when we made a toast to a friend's health (it was her birthday) and her drink promptly went down her windpipe, causing much gasping and spluttering. Alcohol - the great leveller.