The night before Thanksgiving is one of the most important drinking nights of the year. Everyone knows about St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve. But they’re amateur hour—crucibles of embarrassment for people who don’t understand the science and psychology of building and maintaining a solid 9-10 hour buzz. The long drunk is a lost Viking art, requiring just the right balance of booze, food, water and sport. Takes years of practice—Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours put to good use for something more useful than playing oboe.

Thanksgiving Eve sets up perfectly as a drinking night. No one works the next day. People who live all over the country travel to your hometown to see their families. It’s winter, but it’s not “If I leave the house my balls will crystalize” cold. And Thanksgiving itself is a holiday that can be enjoyed while hung over. The basic idea of Thanksgiving is to sit, eat, watch football and drink some more. It’s like the pilgrims wanted you to be drunk for 24 straight hours, God bless those early Ned Flanders Americans and their belt-buckle hats.

On Thanksgiving Eve unofficial high school reunions break out in bars across the country. There you will run into old classmates. And inevitably you will run out of things to say because there’s a reason you moved away from these people. Not to worry. Here are the main Thanksgiving Eve Talking Points.

Is ___ dead? There is always one guy–his name is usually Tony–everyone thinks is dead. Every Thanksgiving or Christmas some girl who didn’t know Tony at all will start telling you that your class’s Tony is dead. Then the next day you see him while picking up your mom’s car at the mechanic, and you’re like, “I can’t believe you’re alive!” and he’s like, “What the hell are you talking about?”

I heard ____ is pregnant again. That girl who got pregnant your junior year? She’s still getting pregnant. And now her kids are pregnant and even some of their kids are getting pregnant.

Someone said Mr. ___ finally got arrested. If you went to a public high school in America, you had at least one pervert teacher. If there’s any semblance of functioning law enforcement in your hometown he is in jail now.

Did Ms. ____ really pose for Playboy in the 1980s? This rumor started while you were in high school. There’s one foxy older teacher, and rumor has it she did a Playboy spread in the 1990s, and this one guy you know said he saw the spread one time, but when you ask him to produce it he says he doesn’t have it anymore, and you want to call BS on him, but the confident glint in his eye seems to indicate that he did see it. And so you wander the earth, going from garage sale to garage sale, flipping through stacks of old Playboys, hoping…

I heard ____ is loaded. No, not loaded as in drunk. Loaded as in made a lot of cash. And it’s not a classmate you’d expect. The kids with the best grades in my class went on to become schoolteachers and mimes. But some kid no one paid attention to invented a thing a bunch of people want and now he’s rich, and everyone agrees we all should have been a lot cooler to him in high school because now he has enough money to buy the naming rights to your genitals.

I heard ____ is gay. There was one guy in your class. You knew he was gay. He knew he was gay. The entire school knew he was gay, but because coming out in your high school would have invited daily harassment, he never came out, and everyone had to pretend he was straight even to the point where he took a girl to homecoming and everyone had to make believe it was a real date, but their homecoming photo was a homecoming photo of lies.

I gotta get out of this town, man. The short list of towns to escape to always includes Chicago, because we all have one friend who lives in Chicago, and even though it’s far from home, and the weather is terrible nine months a year and everyone who lives there, including many of the women, has thick ethnic mustaches, it beats living it at home. After Chicago the list of cities people want to move to but never move to goes: Miami, Las Vegas, L.A., New Orleans, Austin and Portland, in that order.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

See you at the bar.

Joe Donatelli is the Sex & Culture editor at Twitter: @joedonatelli.