How America Went From the Five-O’Clock Martini to Butt-Chugging

Plus: Sorry, sorority sisters, vodka-soaked tampons are cheating on your diet.

This week, when Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert referenced the uber-viral video of Tennessee University’s Pi Kappa Alpha frat brothers standing stoically while their lawyer refuted accusations that a student in their house had been butt-chugging, I did what we do when we don’t know about something we want to know about: I went online. Urban Dictionary is not the only site with a definition, and so many images came up, my eyes were burning.

I read that boxed wine is often the butt-chug booze of choice. I thought that was maybe because, let’s be honest, who actually enjoys boxed wine? But it’s not popular because of the taste, or lack thereof, it’s because of the bag inside—apparently, it’s just like an enema bag! It’s like boxed wine was made for butt-chugging.

A few nights ago, I watched the second episode of this season’s 30 Rock on demand. The character Jenna Maroney said that she had an idea for a song, “Rum-Soaked Tampon.”

“Rum-soaked tampon” was referenced on national TV. I wanted the clip for this post, so I googled “Jenna Maroney” and “tampon.” The first hit was not the recent episode I saw, but one from 2010 when Tina Fey’s character, mistrustful of Jenna’s recent niceness, says, “Have you been soaking your tampons in vodka again?” On broadcast commercial television.

2010. I am so out of the loop.

But then I didn’t feel so bad when I saw that just listed it last month on a piece about the top five shocking ways kids are getting drunk.

I didn’t need to look the definition up online; I got the basic premise, but one of my first thoughts was: Don’t booze-soaked tampons take the social out of drinking? By the way, tampons aren’t just for girls anymore, boys insert booze-soaked tampons in their rectums. I guess when tubing for butt-chugging isn’t available, you make do.

Obviously, the primary reason for ingesting alcohol by these different methods is to get drunk faster. Sure, that’ll happen, but alcohol breaks down the delicate tissue of both vagina and rectum. What comes along with getting drunk faster is a higher risk of black out, and of course, alcohol poisoning. That’ll happen, too.

Mythology surrounds these “trends.” Some kids take their booze by butt because they think their alcohol intake will not show up on a breathalyzer, but the breathalyzer actually measures alcohol blood levels, not the actual breath, so there goes that benefit. Some kids take their booze by vagina in order to save the calories (What? Skinny Girl Margaritas are just not skinny enough?), but the body will absorb the calories from any receiving orifice. Boo. (And I just typed the words “receiving orifice.”)

Some people think that booze-soaked tampons are a myth in themselves: No one is actually doing it. Columbia Health, for one, states that this phenomenon is “at least highly exaggerated,” but the trouble was so bad in a Phoenix high school in 2011 that multiple people were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning, arrived at via tampon. My own informal research supports Columbia’s stance: Everyone has heard of both butt-chugging and booze-soaked tampons, but no one even knows anyone who has tried either.

Everything escalates, of course; it’s human nature to want newer, better, faster. Each generation wants to improve on the last, feels like they know more than their parents. When I was in college, we held our mouths under taps (my own personal best was 28 seconds; don’t ask me how I remember that). We played quarters rather than pong, but with the same outcome and toward the same end. We did body shots on very special occasions, so sure, we put shots on our bodies, but never did we ever consider putting shots in orifices other than our mouths.

My parents were typical of many people of their generation. My father came home and had a cocktail, or two, with my mother every single night, before dinner, a lifestyle I still cannot help but think of as genteel, gracious. Of course they also occasionally got reckless, and even raunchy, but the extent of that mostly went as far as the adage he loves to quote: “Martinis are like breasts. One is not enough. Three is too many.”