“Alcohol may be mans worst enemy, but the Bible says love your enemy.” – Frank Sinatra
There are few things in this world that are as destructive when combined as whiskey and a young man. Bleach and ammonia, fertilizer and diesel fuel, a woman a mall and their parents credit card. All of these things can wreak serious havoc together, although often placid and benign on their own. I cannot personally elaborate on these things but I have dove my way into a bottle of whiskey or ten and learned a few things on the way.
Before you continue reading this I will warn you with a short disclaimer. The things that I have done I am not always proud of but I cannot hide from them and I like to laugh at myself. I can proudly say that I have never injured anyone with any kind of malicious intent. The things that you will read are not a reflection of how I view myself or in any way shape or form something that I think others should ever decided to do. Really this is a series of cautionary tales that sometimes make me laugh. Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.
“Sometimes you just have to pee in the sink.” – Charles Bukowski
The first time I got hammer drunk involved a lot more than whiskey but I think this story accurately describes the kind of relationship I have with alcohol. I think I was a sophomore in high school when this took place. Although I had dabbled in liquor before to say that I had ever reached the point of alcohol oblivion would be untrue. My friend Calvin had the kind of parents that would let you drink a little as long as you stuck around the house. Calvin and I would get a few beers and maybe some vodka and lemonade in us and then go jam in his garage or invite some girls over and try to get them to go skinny dipping in the pool, normal stuff. Unfortunately after a while a little buzz isn’t enough even for a young mans liver. So one night after getting considerably liberal amounts of alcohol out of his parents Calvin, Mike, Jimmy and I told his parents we were going down the street back to Mike’s house to hang out with his brother or some suspect nonsense. In retrospect I am sure they knew we were going somewhere else but we had been contained and civilized for almost a full year. They trusted us. Fools.
The four of us walked across the street bullshitting and throwing snowballs at each other. We cut through someones backyard which had a lagoon in it that was semi-frozen. At that age when your legs get a little wobbly and you’re kinda paranoid that one of your asshole friends will push you in, all I could think was “I hope I don’t fall in.” We were headed to our friend Danny’s house because his parents weren’t home and he was inviting people over. This was before things like Facebook, hell MySpace was in its infancy. So Dan was calling people up on their house phones because cell phones weren’t widely used. This is something the current generation will never understand the concept of. Having to call people on their land line. There are few things as nerve wracking for a fourteen year old boy as dialing the phone and praying to God that your girlfriends dad doesn’t answer. Back to the point though, we were one of the few people that answered the phone apparently.
When the the four of us walked into the house we expected a rager, unfortunately we found three other guys and two girls inside. All of them looked kind of bored. I was never much of a social climber so talking to other people wasn’t something I was particularly interested in. I was on a mission. To get blackout hammered.
There is something in American culture that has romanticized getting shit faced. It is a right of passage. A past time like baseball and divorce. When your in high school three things matter, getting drunk, losing your virginity, and not being labeled as a loser. Math and science? What are those things? Anyone who tells you different obviously went to a better college than I did and pays their rent on time. I do honestly regret not paying more attention then but there isn’t much I can do about it now. It wasn’t a hard choice between the seventeen year old cheerleader holding a bottle of Smirnoff like it was the holy grail and studying for my biology test. To be honest knowing everything I know now, if I could go back, I am sure I would do it all more or less the same. Save for this incident.
While everyone else chugged light beer and flirted with the girls who were apparently thrilled over the three to one ratio my friend Mike and I dove into Dan’s parents liquor cabinet.
“Im sick of this Bush Light shit. Do you have anything stronger? Im losing my buzz.”
“Yea, there is the liquor cabinet but I don’t drink that shit. It all taste like gasoline.”
“You’re parents aren’t going to mind?”
“I don’t care.”
Apparently I developed good taste in booze, or at lease label awareness, early on because I grabbed a bottle of Makers Mark and took a pull.
Just as an aside I have a theory about judging alcohol and really anything else by its label. I know they say don’t judge a book buy its cover, but thats stupid. This goes for wine, cereal boxes, homes, cars, woman, anything really. The theory goes as such. If you have to dress it up a lot on the outside theres probably shit on the inside. Now for woman this is a tough one because all chicks are crazy from years of watching the Victoria Secret Fashion show so they think they are all hideous. But we all know then when you see a girl, a pretty girl, but she is dressed ridiculously slutty or has purple highlights and brass knuckle tattoos on her forearm that she is one crazy bitch. Dude drives a huge truck, gets out only five foot six. Just put a bottle of cheap booze next to a bottle of high grade. It’s obvious that at least two or three of the extra thirty dollars you are spending goes directly into making that bottle beautiful. So observe next time your shopping, if something screams at you to be bought its because its soul is already burning in eternal hellfire.
But I am getting off topic here. I regress…
I don’t know if you remember your first real drink but I sure as hell do. That smooth brown bitter liquid floated unto my pallet and dropped into my gut like a fucking a-bomb. My throat got tight and my eyes watered. I made that face girls make when they take a shot at the bar. But being that I was a dumb Polish, Irish, Italian kid with big dreams of being cool I smiled like I had just kissed my future wife. In many ways I had. To say the least the other guys were impressed and started passing the bottle around with similar results. By the time it got back to me I had become brave I threw that bitch back and gulped. I almost puked.
“Hey man, don’t kill it. I didn’t think you would drink the whole thing.”
“I though you said it was cool.”
“Sample man, sample.”
I put that bottle back and moved on to vodka again, then gin, schnapps, which I still cant drink to this day. Who ever invented Sambuca was a sick bastard. I just kept pulling out bottles and drinking them. The others faded away happy with their buzz. Mike had to stop me.
“Dude take a break.”
So I did. I went into the kitchen and riffled through the fridge. I threw raw chicken up in the air and caught it in my mouth. I ate a jar of pickles. Everything was fuzzy and I wasn’t sure if I was being laughed at or laughed with. At some point I was in the basement and people were passing around a joint. A kid was smashing a hammer through the drywall. Everything seemed absurd. All I remember after that is them carrying me outside past the frozen lagoon mumbling at them. “Don’t drop me in. I can’t swim right now.” Needless to say I blacked-out. Mission accomplished.
The story I got the next morning goes like this. When they got me back to the house it was apparent that we had been drinking. Made obvious by the fact that the three of them carried me inside and they all thought it was hilarious. Calvin’s mom is a real nice lady so she gave me some water and left me upstairs to vomit away whatever it was that ailed me. Im not sure what happened over the next fifteen minutes or so but she came back upstairs when they heard me yelling something. When Calvin and his mom got into the bathroom I was sitting on the floor, face on the toilet bowl, totally naked except for the bath mat wrapped around my waist like a loincloth yelling, “Fuck yo shit. Barbra fuck yo shit to.” Barbra is his moms name. They considered taking me to the hospital. I ended up wrapped in towels and blankets sitting outside on the deck. Every five minutes or so they would come make sure I wasn’t dead and laugh at me.
The next morning I woke up feeling damn good without remembering a thing. Everyone was amazed at this and to this day I am too. The only explanation I have for it is that I rehydrated while I was still blacked-out and sitting in the cold does wonders for sobering you up. Look at Russia. No one was mad because it was pretty hilarious to see me act like such an idiot and cause minimal damage to myself and the bathroom. This was the first in a long line of embarrassing encounters with that angry dark mistress I call booze.