By contributing writer Stephen Maynard

There are certain moments that define a civilization, a lifetime, or a career—points in time when something so minute, so small or insignificant, produces ramifications that change the path of history forever. A small computer glitch had the world on edge at the turn of the millennium. In 1914, an assassin's bullet killed the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne, leading to the start of the first World War. The careers of Mel Gibson and Michael Richards have been jeopardized due to racial slurs, and a pin-sized hole in a condom can lead to unwanted pregnancies and the demise of many people's hopes and dreams. In the heat of the moment, these did not seem like life or world changing events, but the consequences proved otherwise.

In the world of drinking and partying, there is one significant moment that can and will result in a cataclysmic clusterfuck. It happens long before you punch a bouncer, drive home drunk after the bar, double down on a hard sixteen at the blackjack table, or romance barnyard Bessie, the 180-pound equipment manager for the female field hockey team. In fact, those events, which seemed like good ideas at the time, are all the result of one age old practice, known simply as “The Switch.”

Beer before liquor, never been more surprised to see your sink in the middle of the living room.

The average scenario commences innocently enough in any location where alcohol is present: a bar, club, party or Klan meeting. It usually begins with the consumption of copious amounts of beer. From the moment that harmless, cool lager hits your lips, the stage has been set for The Switch. The beer proceeds down your esophagus, enters your stomach, and exits on a urinal or the freaky goth exchange student. It feels like heaven has opened up and Angels are pissing down your throat. But no matter what way, shape, or form the beer is consumed, The Switch is now looming ominously.

After several hours of beer bonging, chugging, shotgunning, or casually drinking, your body and mind start to change. Not only has the inevitable intoxication set in, but you've become more charming, attractive, and endowed with the musical voice and capabilities of a Eunuch boy’s choir. Although you're experiencing a feeling of total ecstasy, your digestive system has become more and more volatile. The combination of a full night of drinking mixed with week-old Chinese food and ramen noodles has brewed a five alarm disaster of gastric Biblical proportions. The hops, barley, and yeast have now festered in your body, and the once so smooth and delicious friend that delivered you to this state has turned against you. Even as you try to soldier on and continue drinking beer through these tough times, your body says “No,” refusing you the opportunity to increase your level of shit-facedness.

The inability to get drunker, and the thoughts of impending sobriety, combined with the growing discomfort brewing inside you results in a feeling you cannot shake. It seems for the life of you, no matter how hard you try, you cannot take another sip of beer. Because the night is still young, and an ocean of untapped pussy continues to swell, you fear throwing in the towel. It is at this point that you turn to your wingman. The glazed-over look in your eyes says it all, but you reaffirm: “It's time to switch.”

Switching is the antidote to the problem at hand and comes in the form of hard liquor—be it shooters, mixed drinks, or straight shots. No matter what form or amount it is taken in, the prescription will work, but the severity of the aftermath depends on the dosage. (Because alcohol is lighter than beer, it does not have the same gut-filling effect on you; thus, the “Reverse Switch” (hard liquor to beer) does not have the same catastrophic effect.) Once realized, more and more alcohol is consumed. Considering the large amounts of beer you've already drained, your level of intoxication increases exponentially. Shots run rampant, singles become doubles, doubles turn into double fisting, and sooner or later these drinking practices are all usurped as you find yourself drinking from the tequila fountain as it runs off a sorority girl's ass.

There is an old drunken proverb that goes, “Beer before liquor, never been sicker.” This is evident not only the next morning, but during the night. Once The Switch has taken place, you become psychologically and emotionally ill. Your already skewed perceptions take a turn for the worse, and at that moment you have both an infinite number of best friends and an even larger number of enemies; you feel it is necessary to express your feelings to every single one.

Sooner or later an eminent essence of invincibility sets in, and in the words of McFadden & Whitehead, “There Ain't No Stoppin Us Now.” So nothing does. Then, as your reckless drinking hits its climax, it happens: a glorious feeling that nothing can stop you. Congratulate yourself, for you have reached the plateau of drunken immortality.

But, as you briefly tasted from the anal tequila fountain, all great things must come to a bitter end. It happened to Caesar, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and now you: you crash, and you burn.

At this point perceptions worsen even more. Police cars become urinals, elevators and floors become beds, and “No” becomes “Oh yeah, I don't care if you stick it in there.” Certain trips to sketchy pizza places, the drunk tank, or the morgue become reality, and the next morning when you wake up feeling like a bag of assholes, keeled over your toilet saying your last goodbyes to the night that was, you can heave a big thanks to “The Switch.”