Are there two sweeter words in the English language than those uttered at the proposal of a 'happy hour?' The very mention of the words brings a thirst to the mouth that can only be quenched with out-of-office bonding and stimulating conversation with co-workers that doesn't revolve around purchase orders and shipment statuses.
However for a newly christened office worker fresh out of a bachelor's program, the happy hour can resemble a minefield more than a relaxing five o'clock event. The possibility to commit an embarrassing or job threatening faux pas is as close as that third or fourth gin and tonic that just seem like a good idea at the time.
The most important thing any new worker invited along for the company's weekly drinking excursion needs to remember is: YOU ARE NOT OUT WITH YOUR FRIENDS!
I repeat: YOU ARE NOT OUT WITH YOUR FRIENDS!
Your friends know you. They know you are an asshole or that you say stupid things when you've had a few too many and, because they are your friends, they can forgive your trespasses as you forgive theirs. Co-workers and your superiors at the office may not be so forgiving. Looking down the blouse of your hot office manager or telling a vulgar chauvinistic joke could lead to any multitude of awkward situations, namely sensitivity training.
Moderation is the key. Afterall, anyone who knows you well knows that excessive drinking leads to story time, like that great story about your first threesome (sound effects and all).
Avoid your Kryptonite: If you know there is a certain liquor that leads to trouble, don't drink it. It is best to stick with a drink that is tried and true and one that isn't normally accompanied with the ever hard to explain vomiting in the bathroom or worse, on your cubicle neighbor's pants.
Take it slow: If you feel like you are starting to get a little too drunk for your own good, slow down. There is no shame in making up a lie about training for a marathon or feeding orphans in the morning. Not only will this keep you safe, but, BONUS, it will definitely get you more points around the office than a drunken make-out session with the bearded mail lady.
Basically, stay on your guard. You may think you can handle the relaxed atmosphere of the Happy Hour scene, but you can't. Even college's greatest drinkers have been known to crash and burn (rug burn, that is) at their first office adventure. So, either stick to these rules or nurse a glass of water all night. Or, of course, grab your boss's ass, take a body shot off of your secretary, and move back home with your parents and a framed restraining order to hang over your bed.