Fallen Soldiers

Insofar as I know, I’ve never ordered or poured an alcoholic drink only to leave it sitting atop a bar or mantle or bookshelf. It isn’t that I fancy myself able to drink more than other people, or that I’m particularly conscientious about refraining from wastefulness. It’s just that I always finish my drinks. It’s the natural thing to do: limit your total drinks to avoid over-intoxication and measure your sips for maximum satisfaction so that you’ve enough for a full swig on the last one.

Every time I clean up after a party, however, perhaps fifty percent of the plastic cups, beer bottles, and beer cans contain a sip or more of leftover liquid. What gives? I suppose I can understand that some people fetch a drink, having overestimated their desire for it, and quit prior to finishing. But fifteen percent of these leftover drinks are filled almost to the rim. Who are these people that open a beer or pour a cocktail only to abandon it untatsted? Were they so drunk that they desired a last beverage even though they couldn’t remember to drink it?

As puzzling are the places that these drinks are found. Under what circumstances does one stick a full plastic cup of warm whiskey on the back of a toilet atop a copy of Heads in the Sand by Matt Yglesias? Who opens a two liter bottle of tonic water, pours a single drink, and deposits the bottle 8 feet above floor level atop a bookshelf, bottle cap unaccounted for, guaranteeing that the mixer is unused by other guests, so that the hosts are eventually left with a flat bottle of quinine infused sugar water?

Or say that the party is rife with Miller Lite cans. These seem like prime candidates for not finishing, beers hardly being created equal. Yet the percentage of Guinness left unfinished is markedly higher.

One day I am going to throw a house party in a state with lax surveillance laws, videotape my guests, and review the night’s festivities in time elapse style to ascertain how it is that so many drinks are left unfinished, once refrigerated condiments are left on the counter top for no apparent reason, and extinguished cigarette butts are placed on the splayed pages of a paperback novel. I won’t expose or reprimand the guilty parties — I’ll merely observe who they are, and hope that the context or something about their expression or my knowledge of their personality helps me to figure out what they’re thinking.

It is a strange thing to clean up after a party, even when one attended it, because despite being there, the way that various objects came to be in certain places beggars explanation.