There is only one not-bad drinking game

And it's the one from which this newsletter gets its name

Welcome to Fingers, a newsletter by me, Dave Infante, about drinking culture, being online, and beyond. If you’re getting this email it’s because you’ve signed up for one newsletter or another of mine over the years. If you don’t want this one, by all means hit the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this email, and please accept my apology for intruding in your inbox. Sorry to bother you!
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Everywhere we go-o (everywhere we go-o), people want to kno-ow (people want to kno-ow), why the hell is this newsletter called Fingers?

So-o we tell them:

When you’re young, your instincts about drinking are almost categorically wrong. In the case of drinking games, this is excruciatingly true. Fingers is the exception to this (true) rule: it is the only good drinking game that exists, and one of the key inspirations for the name of this here newsletter.

Allow me to elaborate.

A couple years ago I wrote a proposal for a book with the working title Booze After College: A Practical Guide To Drinking Your Twenties Away. The book—in which several publishers feigned interest before taking big ol’ pass on my ass—was going to be an examination of the way young American drinkers’ relationships with alcohol change in their post-college decade. (I turn 32 next week, and remain convinced it’s a good book idea, so if you work at a publishing house that wants to pay me to write it, then… uh, get in touch.)

Anyway, one of the proposal’s sample chapters was about how most drinking games only amplify the unarticulated despair into which many 22 year-old graduates are cast after exiting the booze-soaked halls of American higher learning.

Consider the evidence:

The problem isn’t the games themselves. The problem is that the things that once brought you joy aren’t readily available anymore, and that even if they were, they wouldn’t have room to breathe in the barely-furnished existence of young adulthood.

Fingers, on the other hand, requires almost nothing—no athleticism, barely any hand-eye coordination, and few people. It can be played in small, quiet areas as easily as large, loud ones. For these reasons and many more, Fingers is superior to all other drinking games in virtually every way.

I don’t know that I’d recommend playing it with a bunch of strangers while the coronavirus pandemic rages on, but hey: you’re an adult! I trust you to make smart decisions. Anyway, here is how to play.

You will need:

  • Beer: you can play with anything, but light/cheap/cold is wisest

  • Pint glass: it must be glass, or at least a sturdy plastic (I don’t recommend a Solo cup, but you can)

  • Flat surface: of a size/shape that allows all players to reach the center with an outstretched arm at the same time

You may want:

Over many years of trying to explain this game to drunk acquaintances in loud bars, I have honed what I consider the ideal format for delivering the rules of Fingers to a confused audience. Start with…

The ground rules:

The framework of the game is very simple.

  1. Last finger loses. If your finger is the last one on the glass, you drink. (What you drink is up to you—some people like to fill the central glass with beer and force the loser to chug it, others do penalty sips from separate beer cans, others do shots. Discuss amongst yourselves.)

  2. Maintain a steady cadence. Each turn begins with a countdown from three. Intentionally rushing through or slowing down ruins the game. Don’t do that.

  3. No counting fingers. It’s considered poor form to tally the fingers on the glass before your turn as caller.

  4. Out of turn, lose your turn. You get it.

Gameplay:

OK, so.

  1. The glass goes in the middle. If you’re playing the version that requires the loser to drink from this central vessel, now is the time to fill it.

  2. All players reach to the center of the table with one arm, and place one index finger on the rim of the glass.

  3. The caller (for the first round, you can be the caller; after that, it’s whoever lost) counts down from three, and shouts his/her guess for the number of fingers that will be on the glass. So that’s “3, 2, 1, [your guess]!”

  4. At the same time as the caller shouts their guess, each player either leaves their finger on the glass, or removes it in a deliberate motion.

  5. Everyone reviews the results. If the caller’s guess turned out to be right, their finger is removed from the glass, and they’re safe until the next round. If not, their finger goes back on the glass, and the person to their left is now the caller.

  6. This continues apace until the a caller’s guess turns out to be right when there are only two players left. The last finger loses. That player drinks the penalty, and becomes caller to start the next round.

Determining the winner:

  • Everyone who does not lose is the winner in Fingers, but anyone who plays Fingers long enough loses eventually. This is not a metaphor for life but certainly could be.

The purposeless zeal with which you once enjoyed competitive boozing will mostly elude you from here on out, and no amount of ante-upping will bring it back. But we’ll always have Fingers.

I think at this point the sample chapter was over and I delved into another chapter about cigarette flipcup, a drinking game that is much dumber and worse than Fingers that I invented and played precisely one time. You can read about that here.

Anyway, Fingers (the newsletter) is named after Fingers (the drinking game.) I could make up some English degree bullshit about how the two disparate entities share thematic resonance but the truth is the name is basically just a combination of:

  • I like the drinking game Fingers

  • People use their fingers (like, the appendages) to type on keyboards and access the internet

  • It sounds vaguely kinky

And that’s about it. Thanks for reading Fingers, go play Fingers, and please don’t use your fingers to unsubscribe from this newsletter.


An insatiable appetite for offensive crawfish platters

Last week I wrote about New Orleans’ Dixie Brewing Company’s decision to change its name after 93 years because lol it’s 2020, c’mon folks. A bunch of aggrieved whites howled about it online, which no one was shocked about least of all me but still made for some good (“good”) World Wide Web rubbernecking. This Facebook comment in particular was a sight to behold:

Here at Fingers HQ, we simply love to see it, folks.

Now people—presumably at least some of those aggrieved whites—are buying the shit out of all the Dixie Brewing Co. merch they can lay their fleshy mitts on. NOLA.com reported:

Shop sales and online purchases increased five-fold... When employees attempted to restock Dixie Beer crawfish serving trays, he said, eager shoppers bought them directly out of the cardboard carton before the trays could reach the shelves.

The brewery is stocked with “tons” of soon-to-be collectors items marked DIXIE and plans to continue to sell through it while it thinks of a new name.

I can’t help but wonder if the brewery’s billionaire owner (who also owns the NFL’s Saints and the NBA’s Pelicans) plans to donate the proceeds from this nostalgia-fueled fire sale or just pocket them.

Fingers emailed Dixie Brewing Company to ask about its plans on that front; I’ll include their answer (if I get one) in a future newsletter.

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All comments, questions, lavish praise, and vicious criticism on Fingers can be sent to dave@dinfontay.com.