Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 06.08.13
Stanstead, Quebec


Drinking tips for teens: Prom Edition

At high schools across the land, soon-to-be-graduates are thinking about their future. They're thinking about their future after-parties on Prom Night and how they're going to score some booze.

Because the drinking age in Quebec is 18 and because most high school grads are close to 18 (if not already), many feel justified in drinking, entitled even. It's important to bear in mind, however, that while teenagers think they know what they're doing booze-wise, they're like the Liberal Party of Canada: clueless.

It doesn't help that our society sends such mixed signals about alcohol. On the one hand, it's among the last socially acceptable vices, now that smoking, sugar, and fat people have become taboo. At the same time, young people are forbidden to drink alcohol until they reach legal age. No, no, no! Okay, maybe a little at Christmas. And weddings. And since dad hates to drink alone. Otherwise, no!

Then suddenly, they can. They turn 18 and become solely responsible for the booming sale of shooters named after sexual positions.

Prior to obtaining their driver's licence, teenagers need to undergo lessons and tests. Before they can vote, they're exposed to television attack ads to ensure they arrive at the polls pre-jaded. We give them advice about sex. ("Don't.") Yet there are few if any preparations to discourage them from indulging in drink-related excesses involving funnels, indelible markers, exposed undergarments, and frat boys who really ought to be punched in the mouth. But violence is never the answer, kids.

Luckily, I've had some experience in this area and can offer some advice.

First of all, children, you have two jobs: 1) stay safe, and 2) keep your parents as blissfully ignorant as possible. None of this upfront honesty about your plans to drink peach schnapps until your pores reek like a Brooklyn taxi air-freshener. Instead, you need to be as coy and evasive as possible.

"Will there be drinking at this party?"

"It's the last night of school!"

"Will Billy's parents be there?"

"Billy's parents know all about it!"

"Are you planning to drink?"

"God-d-d-d-d! Why don't you trust me!"

Well done.

Next, remember that you will be dressed up for the occasion. You're going to feel classy. You're going to feel like you're in a James Bond film. You might even think martinis are a good idea. First of all, you don't know how to make a good martini. Secondly, no one knows how to make a good martini. Martinis are Satan's spittle. Drink martinis -- shaken, stirred, decanted into a styrofoam Slushie cup, it doesn't matter -- and all you'll end up with is a licence to hurl.

Champagne is a sophisticated alternative, although you should be aware that the carbonation in sparkling wine delivers alcohol to your system more swiftly, causing you to get tipsy more quickly. Also, you should be aware that dudes who use the word "tipsy" tend to be flying solo by the end of the night.

Where are you going to get your booze? Don't ask your parents. They won't buy it for you, unless they're the coolest parents ever. Good for you for having the coolest parents ever. And thanks for making the rest of us parents look like bad guys, coolest parents! Don't think we won't be judging you and discussing your questionable child-rearing skills at dinner parties for the next ten years, by which time your child will likely be facing a first minor felony charge and/or third unwanted pregnancy and/or second re-election bid.

No, you'll want to be sneaking booze out of the house a little bit at a time over the next two weeks. We probably won't notice. And if we do, we'll pretend we don't.

Prom Night is a special night, your last night together as a high school class. Make it a memorable one. Don't drink so much that you pass out and miss the whole thing or fail to remember vast chunks of it. Of course, if your date happens to be "Mr. Tipsy," who could blame you for wanting to purge the whole night from your memory? (Alice MacIsaac, if you're reading this, I'm on Facebook.)

Finally, your parents are desperately clinging to the illusion that you are innocent children, untainted by vice and corruption, and not in fact rushing off into the uncertain world of adulthood, self-reliance and Frosh Week. So if you do come home drunk, do them a favour and toss out the tried and true:

"Someone spiked my drink!"

"They made me drink a beer. Then they made me drink a beer eight more times!"


Thanks, Class of 2013. We appreciate it.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through He can be reached at