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The Catch-up Dilemma

By Yalun Tu | Feb 23, 2012

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Last Friday night provided a perfect example of the Catch-up Dilemma, which occurs when you meet your friends at a bar a few hours late. You never actually planned to show up late. It just happened. Boardwalk Empire was on TV or your shirt didn’t fit or your neighbor ran in drenched in blood screaming “WE NEED TO DISPOSE OF THE BODY!!!” and then somehow it’s midnight and you have to change your shirt again and you’re three hours late.

So you get ready and tiptoe into the bar in the hopes of pretending you were there all night and they just kinda didn’t notice you. Now, this never works but you try it anyway and then you either get the sarcastic cheer for showing up at all or passive aggressive stares enhanced with speculative jeers on why you chose that shirt. But they’re your friends, they’re idiots, and they’ll get over it.

The real question of the night is: Everyone is really drunk. You are not. Do you play catch-up? (Catch-up is when you drink quickly in order to catch up to their level of drunkenness.)


  • You will quickly move from outsider to insider status
  • You can do crazy drinks like flaming lambos or sake bombs with no regard for human life
  • After enough drinks you won’t regard human life at all
  • Ugly people become more attractive



  • As you become quickly impaired it will be hard to judge how much more impaired you should get
  • If hard alcohol is not available you’ll need to down glasses of wine, which is terrible
  • You may face the epic rise and fall, where you’re a king at 12:15 then down for the count at 1am
  • Ugly people become more attractive

So on Friday I chose YES. It is indeed my normal choice because it’s more fun and going to a club sober is a weird experience I hope never to repeat in life.

I showed up at a dinner that started at 11:30pm to see that the table was destroyed. Where once a bright and delightful dinner party lived there were only empty bottles, oversized sake jugs, and a pregnant woman (who wasn’t drinking) suffering from PTSD. If her baby turns out to cry in the presence of crowds or Belvedere I think I can pinpoint the exact moment the scarring occurred.

“WHERE IS YURRR DRINnNK!” somebody slurred at me, prompting me to remember the top three slurred phrases in the English language:

  1. Where is yurrr drinnk?
  2. I loveeee you!
  3. I’m not drunnnk! [screams] Let me go! I wanna to daaaaaance!

“Right here” I replied and drank a half-bottle of sake.

I turned to my friend: “James, listen. Sober Yalun is here for three more minutes. Please tell me anything you want him to remember. Thank you very much and have a nice—WHERE THE FUCK IS YOUR DRIARARANK!!”

The rest of the night involved lots of hugs and helping drunk people vomiting in the restroom because I needed to clear them out so I could vomit in the restroom. There was also a lot of dancing to techno music at Fly. On a sober or regular drinking night I have no idea how you’d dance to techno but on a catch-up night techno beats sound like they’re going directly into your brain and when you stumble around people just think you’re ODing on some designer drug and act like your friend in the hopes that you’ll give them some.

The moral of the story is that if you play catch-up you’ll get blacked out and do crazy things you won’t remember but receive numerous text messages about. That, and I LOVEEEEEEE YOU GUYZ!

Yalun Tu is a columnist for HK Magazine. You can reach him at or @yaluntu on Twitter.

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