If this was high school, the blackout would be the pretty, popular girl who everyone was familiar with, the one everyone hated themselves for secretly loving. The brownout, on the other hand, would be the jealous, watered-down, younger sister who suffers a chronic case of attention whoring, topped with a dollop of desperation. The brownouts are the “16 and Pregnant” Jamie Lynns or the elevator Solanges of the world, if you will. Because the brownout flies under the radar, she causes much more damage to herself and those around her than her more recognized sibling ever could. So, after little to no proper research and completely based on my own drunken visits to brownout town, I’ve come to a scientifically justified conclusion: brownouts are infinitely worse than blackouts.
Brownouts are obviously different than blackouts in that you do (to the detriment of your self-esteem, reputation, conscious, or all of the above) remember portions of your night. These are the moments you’d sell your firstborn to erase, and the ones you’ll brown into at the absolute worst possible times. The day after browning out, one second you’ll be minding your own business on the elliptical, but then a Taylor Swift song comes on and it reminds you about the crying voicemail you left your ex last night as T. Swift belts out the chorus to “I Knew You Were Trouble.” A quick check of the phone log confirms you made the call of death. This realization is promptly followed by feelings of remorse, nausea, humiliation, and basically wanting to just crawl under a rock and die.
Another difference between brownouts and blackouts is that once something triggers your memory, it kind of means you have to acknowledge your drunken alter ego’s shameful actions from the night before. With a blackout, telling everyone, “looks like [insert name of drunken alter ego here] was in last night!” is a completely viable excuse. Browning out gives you no such luxury. It doesn’t matter if you texted two people or 20–it will not make your next interaction with them any less awkward. You’ll both make “this is about two seconds too long” eye contact, followed by you swearing off drinking forever and ever and seriously contemplating just calling it quits and becoming a lesbian.
The last, and possibly the most unfortunate, difference between browning out and blacking out is that browning out forces you to psychotically overanalyze every single interaction you had the night before. If you blacked out, chances are you have some amazingly supportive friends who will spare (read: hide 90 percent) you the details of the night before, providing you with nothing to overanalyze. On the flipside, the morning after a brownout goes a little something like this: “Does he remember I said that? Shit, he definitely does. Should I text him and apologize? How about just like a, ‘Hey, we both got pretty drunk last night haha.’ Ew no. That’s so cliché, why would I say that? Why am I so awkward? But actually, though, how am I supposed to act around him now? FUCK! NOW I HAVE TO FIND SOMEONE ELSE TO POTENTIALLY ASK TO FORMAL IN THREE WEEKS!”
I’ll finish with this. Let’s say you were caught butt naked, banging on the bathroom floor. Blackout? It wasn’t you. Brownout? It was.