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The Tribes

Who To Avoid At The Bachelor Party

From the Alpha Beta to That Random Guy – introducing the stag don’ts

The stag do/bachelor party/bucks party/enterrement de vie de garçon (“burial of the life as a boy”) if you want to get French about it has changed beyond recognisable definition since our parents’ generation got married. What began as a few drinks in the local pub the night before the wedding has escalated, as these things tend to, and ended up as a full-scale, alcohol-fuelled annexation of Eastern Europe/Las Vegas. In fancy dress.

This year, some 2.2 million weddings will take place in the US and a further 230,000 in the UK. It’s the reason why your next free weekend is in October, by which time you will be both broke and broken. And in the run-up to the summer, a mammalian migration, second only to the mass movements of the caribou, sweeps across the Western world. Stag season is upon us once more.

How did we get here? (Here being wearing matching sombreros, lads-on-tour T-shirts and leering grins in the snaking queue for a flight to Riga on a Thursday night.) The origins of the stag do can be traced back to ancient Sparta, where soldiers would hold a banquet to honour a groom’s final night as a free man. Today, largely thanks to the emergence of budget airlines, it is a different kind of Spartan endurance event – one you’re relieved but not necessarily proud to complete (but at least you now have the Spartan helmet).

First, some introductions. Below are some of the men you’re likely to meet on your next stag do, even if you don’t want to. For one hazy/hazing weekend, you’ll be closer than family. Come the wedding, you’ll struggle to remember their names.

The escalator

It’s 2017, and a room full of men is what feminism looks like, right? So who booked the bored-looking stripper? That would be this guy, a fun-enforcement agent whose only purpose is to make sure everyone has a good time, whether they like it or not. At the first rumbles of dissidence, he herds you all into a club so loud you have to communicate via strobe-lit sign language. Just as you’re eyeing a sneaky backdoor exit, he magically appears with a tray of peyote-laced shots and handcuffs you to a person of diminutive stature (not the descriptor he uses). This cult leader is a free-form spirit, a shadowy shape shifter who only comes into physical being when certain celestial bodies are aligned, or if a pint glass is less than three-quarters full and doesn’t have a cocktail umbrella/sausage sticking out of it. In the real world, he doesn’t even exist.

The costume dramatist

You can begrudgingly accept the T-shirt with “Wolf Pack ’17” emblazoned on the back. In the context of a provincial airport, it at least gives fellow passengers a heads-up on who to avoid. And you have only yourself to blame for the smutty nickname – you suggested it when the emails went around four months ago. But there’s always one who wants to push the envelope. He’s turned up dressed as a cheerleader, with a two-man camel outfit in his hand luggage, and he’s reserved the back half for you. His suitcase contains more costume changes than the average Beyoncé concert, including all manner of “hilarious” inflatables, a mankini for the groom, and a water pistol to be filled with duty-free vodka. Before the plane has even taken off, he has the groom gamely sporting a 1960s air hostess uniform and is helping the cabin crew point to the nearest emergency exit. Take note: you might want to make use of it.

That random guy

“Who is that guy? He was the first person to book his flights and kept awkwardly chipping in – always with too many exclamation marks!!! – on the round robin emails. He’s the bride’s brother’s best mate’s cousin, or something. He seems to know Steve, but, then again, Steve was only sitting there because someone was using the bathroom and has since gone home. Didn’t he go to college with Chris? They went Interrailing in the summer after the first year of uni, when everyone else had to get a job. I think he was dating Jeremy’s sister – the younger one with the hair. Wasn’t he the submarine technician Nick met doing jury service? They were on a pub quiz team together for a while. He’s the neighbour the best man got to feed his cat that time he went snowboarding in Canada, right? But now the best man is being shrink-wrapped naked to a lamppost, so he’s stood on his own at the bar, looking a bit lost. I’m sure he was at that house party in 2003 – the one where Abigail threw up in the fish tank. He wore the orange sweater. Hang on – isn’t he the guy who is supposed to be driving our minibus? And isn’t that your beer he’s drinking?”

The alpha beta

Like Bruce Banner when he gets angry (or more accurately SuperTed when he says his secret magic word), an amazing transformation takes place the moment this man enters the stag-do arena. Usually a mild-mannered office drone with three children under the age of seven and a job that takes 10 excruciating minutes to explain, by the second lap of the go-kart track, he thinks he’s Mr Ayrton Senna in the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix. He’s the shirtless own-brand John Rambo still running around the Laser Quest park maniacally gunning down tweens while the rest of the group is back in the minibus. He bellowed a word-perfect “Bohemian Rhapsody” in the karaoke booth, finishing with the flourish of a mic-drop into a puddle of… is that his vomit? He’s somehow already at the next bar with a drink for everybody in the room, including the local dog walker who was quietly reading the paper in the corner. He’s got the waitress’ phone number, although suspiciously it appears to be missing a couple of digits. He’s fallen asleep, slumped face-first into his lamb rogan josh. It is 7.19pm.

The detainee

This guy only planned to show his face on the first night to keep the bride happy, but it’s day two and now that face looks haunted – and quite red. He spent the first few hours nursing an ale, blending in – with the pub’s carpet, mostly. He had a stab at “bantz”, but it fell flat when he brought up Brexit. Now he’s come unstuck in the drinking game – the one where it keeps on changing direction and you have to neck a shot of tequila if you forget to put your left hand to your right ear; two if you don’t address the person three seats away as Captain Fandango – and has to spend the next 40 minutes speaking like a pirate. Which sounds a bit odd when he phones home, again, to check that Lauren got to gymnastics OK (she did). Someone – we won’t mention who – scrawled “Tosspot” on his forehead in permanent marker after he passed out the previous night and his skin looks raw where he scrubbed too hard trying to get it off. Weeks later, when you meet him again at the wedding and begin to introduce him to your partner, “Tosspot” is the only name that springs to mind.