On the consumption of liquid from an animal horn

A while back, one of the chemists in my department threw a a sort of medieval-themed Christmas party with her housemates.Now, I’ll interject that for us, that’s not a huge stretch. For reasons related to our field of study, we tend to be a pretty granola-munching bunch. Dressing up as bards, knights, and wizards is not really a big deal. Well, except for me. I’m not above it, I just don’t own any costumes. I should probably rectify that.

I wouldn’t let details like that slow me down, though, so I of course I went.

After cajoling my way across the drawbridge they had installed in their foyer, depositing my 6-pack of really decent Trader Joe’s Winterfest Double Bock into the fridge and retaining one for myself, (how do I remember that after this many weeks? I’m not sure.), and squeezing my way into the livingroom where Robin Hood and his merry men were playing Simon and Garfunkel tunes on a guitar and a mandolin (really), the hostess came through and offered me what must have been the horn off of an angry 100-kg sheep.

“Oh my. What is this?”

“Mead.”

“Wow. I’ve never tried that before. Is it good?”

“Well, C made this batch, but we’ve got a few bottles of the store-bought stuff in the fridge. Wanna try?”

“Well, I’ve already got a beer.”

“Set it down and I’ll show you how to drink from it.”

How you drink from a horn is actually obvious if you think about it – you have to hold the point so that it’s in front of you and tip it back. I took a swig, it was rather tart but pretty good. She took the horn away and let me get back to my beer.

The party progressed as any non-catastrophic party with that many people in period costumes would: we got a little drunk and started singing. Eventually, one of my better friends came up to me with the horn.

“Have you tried the mead?”

“The homemade stuff, yeah.”

“This is the stuff from the store. I think it’s better.”

In our crowd, that’s blasphemy. Things made at home are always better. Admiral Ackbar would have known what was happening, but I walked into it. “Really? Let me try it.”

I was empty-handed, so he handed me the horn. It was nearly full. I tasted the mead; it was sweet and good, though not necessarily better. I said as much and tried to hand the horn back.

“Oh, no thanks. I’ve had enough.”

I drank a little more, or maybe a little more than that, wandered around with my new prop, and did all that party stuff that always happens but which we can never actually recollect very clearly the next day. Eventually, I decided I had had enough mead.

It was at that point that I realized the most important fact about horns: You cannot set a horn down without spilling all the liquid inside.

I tried to find someone else to take the horn, but everybody said they had had enough. It was still half full. There are worse problems to have than alcohol that you can’t set down. Out of primal instinct, I drank more — it’s just what you do when you’ve got alcohol in your hand and you’ve already had a few. At some point I actually internalized that I was drinking mead well after the point which I decided I didn’t need to have anymore; my plight became dire and my search became more desperate. Not that I stopped drinking then, either. That’s just not how it works.

Eventually, someone took it off my hands. I have no idea who, or how much mead was in the horn at that point.

I do know that the rest of the party was freaking awesome.

The next morning, notsomuch.

Mead? In the words of the last person who sold me something on half.com: “AAAAA ++++++ Thank you !!!!!”

Horns? Pretty cool, whether on or off of a ruminant.

The juxtaposition? Lethal.

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