Because I take most of my cues these days from the Nerdist Podcast I have decided to share with my modest readership (btw, don't be afraid to tell your friends) my experience with alcohol!
When I got to college I fully intended to "follow the rules" but, like so many who came before me, and so many who have come after, I succumbed to peer pressure! The first college party I attended was in one of the nicer dorms on campus, a bunch of people from the marching band (of which I was a part) had gathered to toast the end of band camp! For the un-initiated, at this level, "band camp" is a hellish week of all day rehearsals during which you are expected to become proficient in the execution of not only a pre-game show, but the better portion of your first of four halftime shows. But don't let me make it sound like it's not fun! It's awesome! I met some of my life-long friends that week! The rest of the gang came together over the course of the year! But before we digress further into tales of marching band and its many joys, let us return to the afore mentioned party! I was there and had no intention of drinking...and I didn't! Despite the most tempting offer I've ever had! A lovely young woman, and horn player...let's call her, "that girl", noticed that I wasn't drinking. She offered me something to slake my thirst, and I politely declined. To which she responded, "If you have a beer, I'll have sex with you!" Never again have I been offered sex...then again, never again have I refused a beer! At any rate, I refused that girl's offer again! I don't know what I was thinking...but it was something that must have festered, because when I finally did drink...the topic of sex was again on my mind!
Fast forward to my second sememster! Being in the Marching Band led, quite naturally, into being a member of the Basketball Pep Band! And that led to attending the SEC men's basketball tournament in Atlanta! Sitting in a hotel room, watching others play Magic the Gathering, I didn't bring a deck...so I WATCHED people play Magic the Gathering (doubt my nerd cred again! Ye of little faith), a group of us noticed the Cheerleaders making their way out of the hotel, wearing their finest slut-wear and slut-cessories! Having watched these lithe, young, athletic (and bendy...very bendy) ladies flit off to downtown Atlanta prompted the following quote: "When dem bitches come back drunk I'm gonna fuck the shit outta one of em!" ... Yes, I was quite the poet in my day! It's safe to say that I would have done no such thing... and not just because of some vague sense of morality, but mostly because I wouldn't have known what the hell to do... even if one of them had thrown herself at me and requested it! But the matter-of-factness with which I had said those words prompted one of the upper classmen in the room to laugh, and then offer me a beer! The countless refusals of the preceding year had done their part to weaken my resolve, and the sense of comraderie and ease of acceptance in the room had unlocked the last door between me and permanent sobriety! I took the beer... a Pabst Blue Ribbon...barely chilled... I popped the top, and took a sip! Now I wish I could be eloquent about this, but I can't! It tasted like dog ass to me! I handed the barely touched beer back to my fellow bandsman, at which point I was offered a Budweiser (not a Bud Light). Believing that nothing could be as bad as PBR (still won't drink it unless there is no other option) and wanting to wash the awful taste from my mouth, I took it. And, in comparison, it was delicious. My tastes have changed, and I'm not really a fan of Bud anymore... but I will always remember it fondly as my first beer!
Time passed, and I drank more... in greater variety and in volume! To a point, it became a source of pride! I got away with drinking underage...I drank this much of this or that much of that! I remember my first shot of Fighting Cock: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey [Aged 6 years, 103 proof, 51.5 % alc/vol]. That's off the top of my head...it's my drink, my thing, my claim to fame! and here's why! Not so much because of the first shot...or the three that immediately followed (it was kind of sweet to me, while all my compatriots doubled over from the fiery finish)! [Pardon the vagueness of this next tale, as I aim to protect the identities of the innocent.] Rather, Fighting Cock became my drink for the following reason! As we all know, with every group, there are the official rules and traditions... and then there are the unofficial ones. One group of which I was a part had an unofficial tradition of shooting Fighting Cock! We had gathered (once again, in a hotel) and began observing this unofficial tradition of shooting a 103 proof bourbon! Two bottles had been provided and I waited at the end of the line as I (already intoxicated) had devised a plan! The first bottle was finished, and two shots had been poured from the second when it came my turn! I refused the shot glass and took hold of the bottle! Holding it up to the assembled crowd I announced, "And this is how I do it!" at which point I did my best impression of John Belushi in Animal House! I didn't quite get the whole bottle down, but well over half of it had found it's way into my gut before I needed to breath! The fire!... it burned! I slammed the bottle down on the table, raised my hands in victory and... nope, I didn't puke! Not that night! I did step outside, just in case I did hurl! It was cooler outside, and that felt good...so did the half a pack of cigarettes that I blazed through while I was out there... and at least there would be fewer witnesses... again, just in case!
That incident, I would say, marked the beginning of a widening gyre... or a quickly tightening spiral (depending on which perspective you choose) of escalation in my drinking habits! Sneaking into bars while underage was a favorite pass time the summer before my 21st birthday! You'd be surprised how effective a confident handshake and asking "Is Brandon working tonight?" can really be! Also, thanks Brandon, for being a guy I met during Freshman orientation who actually worked at that bar and giving my ploy an air of credibility! (Brandon's an actor now...very happy for his success...goddamn chiseled features and muscles and perfect smile and what I imagine must be a very disciplined workout routine...not bitter at all, really happy for his success) But the real "Zenith of Moments" came during Spring Break! I was legal...and I was aiming to get wasted! Two of my friends had a head start, they were playing cards and shooting whiskey in some made up game designed to get one "shit-faced" as quickly as possible. I was pacing myself... for a while! We went out to dinner and then came back to the hotel and proceeded with the evening's drinking! I don't remember exactly what was in the concoction that I was choking down but, I recall whiskey and coke, with maybe a dash of gin. Don't ask why I added the gin... at the time I was dumb...er! Suffice it to say that some very colorful stories from my friends the next morning accompanied by photographic evidence and the equally colorful aftermath (there really is no more appropriate word for it) of my puking as witnessed after checking out, all added up to my first and only ever blackout! Yes! I had found the wall, and plowed through it, like The Hulk, or The Juggernaut (Bitch!) or the Kool-Aid Man!
If I were to tell you what happened with the rest of that weekend, you likely wouldn't believe me...I mean, who really writes an I.O.U. to a stripper!? (Yeah!) But, I think it's fair to say that I fell out of love with alcohol that day! I mean, we're still together... cuz we're comfortable and it's not like I could do any better! I'm not rich so I don't think I could have one of those "sex addictions" I'm always seeing celebrities go on about! But I definitely learned my lesson regarding moderation! I can't even keep up with a regular nightcap anymore! I'll find myself after six or seven weeks without a drink thinking, "I should remember to pick up a bottle of scotch...maybe this weekend...or not, I've got shit to do...but the weekend after that! yeah! It'll be payday too... maybe I'll try that high end Johnnie Walker...I've been saving...ostensibly for that bottle...it'll be nice to splurge a little!"
I don't drink to get drunk anymore...I drink for the flavors. I know, I know! It's an aquired taste!...like I suddenly find myself enjoying the asparagus that they lay across my steak or even the occasional serving of leberwurst! But alcohol and I have an understanding now... a detente if you will! And the stories are told less and less these days! Washed from the record by a wave of political correctness and professionalism! It's probably for the best, I'd never advocate doing what I did to anybody else and Lord knows I'd never want to do it again! But if I really think about it, I have to admit... it was fun while it lasted!