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I tore into my friend while drunk, now she's shut me out. How do I fix this mess?

The question

On our last night of a great vacation, my two best friends and I went out and got drunk – well, at least I did. Apparently I was acting negative towards the end of the night, and my friend called me on it. I proceeded to lay into her with a wrath I didn't know I had, and told her everything that I thought about her (she's negative, selfish etc.). It's embarrassing for me to even write about and I have beaten myself up to no end on this score. The truth is I feel that way slightly towards her but not to the extent that I let her have it. My recovery efforts are to no avail. What should I do?

The answer

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"In vino veritas" some might say – but not me.

"In vino troppo informacion," I say, "y nonnumquam los palabras muy caliente." (Which is, um, Splatalian for "People who drink too much tend to overshare, and get too hot under the collar." Although I might've just ordered spicy calamari.)

I'm a big fan of booze, as anyone who knows me will tell you. It's a great social lubricant, good for relaxation at the end of a hard day. I like a little drinkie-poo while I cook dinner, or (my favourite) while chilling poolside with a margarita on vacation.

But I would use this as a learning experience, and cease and desist from going out – even when on vacation – with the explicit intention of getting horribly drunk.

The results are rarely pretty, can be pretty sloppy, and can, as you've discovered, lead to friendships getting ruptured – not to mention other forms of injury, disaster and death.

So that's step one. Moderation, baby. The Greeks had it right. Step two: refrain from arguing with, or criticizing, other people when you've had a few.

That one I learned from 20 years of being married. Alcohol can act like gasoline on the smallest spark of friction, dissent or criticism, and a minor tiff with your wife can turn into a major marital melee – a full-on, barn-burning, bag-packing brouhaha.

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Alcohol's like the Internet, or being stuck in traffic, that way. Otherwise meek, mild-mannered people suddenly become belligerent, bellicose and truculent – that is, when they're not waxing sentimental and lachrymose. (I'd like to thank my thesaurus for the previous sentence, but maybe Jerry Seinfeld said it best: "Drunk people are always telling you how much they love you, or how much they hate you.")

Now, on to the question of repairing your friendship. First step, I think: Give it a little more time. She sounds like she'd like to keep you on ice – or, rather, in the penalty box – for a little longer.

Use the cool-off period to ask yourself a couple of questions. It sounds like you've still got a bit of a beef with this girl. So the first question is: Can you swallow it? I know people can change, I'm a big believer in the eternal mutability and improvability of humankind. But the prompt rarely comes from criticism from a friend – that just mostly leads to friction.

Second question to ask yourself: Who am I to judge anyone, ever, at all? Let her worry about her shortcomings; you worry about yours. In Jamaica they have a saying that goes something like: "Mind your own backyard, don't worry about anyone else's." Words to live by, I think.

With friends in general the best approach is to think: "So-and-so is a package deal, can I handle him/her the way he/she is, warts, flaws, faults, baggage, irritating habits and all?"

If the answer is an unequivocal "yes," then don't give up on the friendship, even if you have to swallow a little humble pie. Maybe your mutual friends can gently work on her. After all, it's probably tough on them too (having to decide which of you to invite to what event, just for starters).

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If she agrees to see you, apologize most heartily, tell her how you feel about her (i.e., the reason you became friends in the first place) and that you didn't mean all the nasty things.

If she still turns her back on you – well, then give it more time, and reapproach. After all, it sounds like you were pretty harsh. Don't give up. Me, I hate carrying around the psychic weight of a ruptured friendship. And I bet, deep down, your friend does too, even if she's mad now.

Hopefully, in time your tipsy tiff will all seem like (in the quaint old British expression) "small beer," and the two of you will be back to chatting and quaffing chardonnay (in moderation) in the sunshine in no time.

If she continues to rebuff your attempts at rapprochement – well, there's not a lot you can do about that. At least you can tell yourself you gave it a (non-alcoholic) shot.

What am I supposed to do now?

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