The Drunkest I’ve Ever Been

Posted: May 9, 2014 in Nonfiction

The Drunkest I’ve ever been, is impossible to say. I’ve drank too much so many times in my life I can’t possibly identify the drunkest. I’ve drank too much more times than I’ve drank enough and many more times than I drank too little. But I’ll write about the First time I drank too much.

It’s awful. And it’s funny. And I don’t want anyone who likes me to read this. It wasn’t a “come to Jesus moment.” I’d like to say it was, but it wasn’t. It would take years of much bigger mistakes to slow me down, and I know I might speed up again at any moment. More concerning, I know my driving is so poor regardless, I might go off the rails for no reason at all, even at the most reasonable of speeds. Anyway. here’s a story about stupidity.

One time I got drunk and danced with a guy in a pink sweater. Which isn’t so funny by itself, except I made him dance with me. And it was swing dancing. And it was kind of like a hostage taking.

I was 18 or 19 and I was just learning how to drink. As with everything, I was taking advanced classes. When you’re smart, or learn quickly, or the school says whatever, people assume you know more than you do. I understood quadratic equations so I had to have learned my times tables right? I hadn’t, but what the fuck, I’d be fine… I was smart? Drinking was a lot like that.

It was Veterans’ Day, or Memorial Day, or whichever one comes early in the school year. I was home from my first semester at college. I was there to finish up community service I’d gotten for having a Minor in Possession the previous summer. (This is my first time drinking too much by MY standards, not by the standards of the Indiana State Police.) I thought it’d be funny to have an Off Of Probation Party, and for the record, it was.

Folks came over, not much happened. I think we BBQ’d. People from various groups of friends gathered together; my football friends, the outdoors-y kids in camouflage, a couple of my nerd-class pals home from different schools. Pieces of a fucked up quilt of bored kids in their late teens. I ended up procuring a bottle of rum from somewhere. This was a midday gathering, and really nothing happened. At about 3 or 4 o’clock, people decided to head out to various parties around town; as it was an eclectic gathering of people, they went to many different places. My best friend Don and I, (and probably a girl,) wound up driving to someone’s house I didn’t know. I hadn’t been drinking, but finding out we were going to somebody else’s house changed the situation entirely. I took a shot or two quickly and packed to leave. When we arrived, I probably drank more. I remember the place was nice, and that everybody there was a year or two younger than I was, and that was weird. I was a college freshman, and they were high school kids. We’re all glum idiots in our thirties now, but back then, it was gross, and I was a weirdo. I decided to hide behind bottles. I show off by drinking, I don’t understand why. Maybe it makes it easier to be myself, or be somebody I like more, or maybe, at that time, it just gives me the confidence to show off the karate moves I’d learned in a college rec. class. I took shot after shot. At first I chased them with coke, but then just started taking tugs from the bottle. a bunch of them. Later, my pal described me as “Belushi-ing” the last quarter bottle of rum.

This, I remember, but it’s fuzzy.

What happened next is a collection of other people’s accounts. They’re similar enough that I believe them, and don’t suspect any elaborate ruse. I spent a while showing off how high I could kick and telling folks I was invisible. I’d wager I meant “invincible,” but folks say “invisible,” and since I wasn’t there, I’ll have to trust them.

I fell down at one point, and came real close to de-braining myself on a tailgate, catching my temple on the corner, but I got lucky, I just collapsed in a pile. Then I bear crawled around the drive way for a minute, barfed, and fell over. Then I barfed again. I barfed all night. People took turns rotating me around like a terrible barf lawn sprinkler.

People say they sat around me like a bonfire for a while while I got sick and snored loudly. I like to think they brought marshmallow.

I’m lucky my friends were sweet, and strong (I’m very heavy, and dragging me around couldn’t have been easy.) They took me from party to party, lugging me into the back of pick-ups, and wiping the barf out of the beds when they arrived, dropping me off in yards and driveways while new folks drank around me.

I like to imagine there were a couple of Weekend at Bernie’s moments, and no sodomy, but it’s all conjecture.

Nobody wrote on me or drew dicks on my face, and that’s pretty remarkable.

It’s important to note that in this story, it was still only 5 or 6 in the evening, and, in the summer, that’s just the afternoon. As the evening progressed, kids got drunker, and I was less entertaining. I was abandoned for a short time under a kiddie pool, so not to attract attention from cops or passers by. Assuming if someone drove by, they would think, “hey, there’s a seemingly lawful arm and leg sticking out from underneath a kiddie pool, nothing to see here” and move on.

I’m not sure how or when I got to anywhere. I know I woke up around 10. In a bathtub, at a party I didn’t understand. I’d thrown up so much my contacts had fallen out. I was blind, and drunk and staggering through a hallway. I think I remember, or it’s possible I just remember cartoons showing me what walking around that drunk feels like. I remember pictures of people I didn’t know hanging from the wall coming in and out of focus as I lumbered past them. I remember my own barf covered hands leaving streaky palm prints on the wall like messages from The Manson Family. I think I remember shooting Jasper.

I walked into a living room with a couch that curved around the edges of the room. 10 or 12 people were on it, listening to music, or watching TV awkwardly the way you do at high school parties. I looked over the blurry shapes in front of me unsure if the aliens were captors or cohabitants. They made noises like me, so I was pretty sure they were human. I saw one that was slender and cute in a pink jacket. If I was stuck on this space ship with other people, I’d at least establish dominance. Since I was too drunk to showcase my karate, I’d go with dancing, which is really just sex karate anyway. I picked her up from the couch in a big dramatic swoop and pushed her away coyly, holding one hand as delicately I could.

Swing dance was incredibly popular for 15 minutes in the late 90’s, and I got really good at… I got sort of good at it.

I have no rhythm, and can’t hold a beat, but I’m strong, and my arms are long. And that’s all a guy has to have to be a decent swing dancer. I can throw a chick around like she’s nunchucks. Factor in my utter disregard for someone else’s safety when I’m in that state, and I’m a terrific dancer.

I don’t know what was playing, but I can state assuredly it probably wasn’t swing dancing, let’s assume it was Green Day’s “Good Riddance.”

I tossed her out and pulled her back dramatically as Billie Jo Armstrong sang about growing up. I lifted her up and swung her from side to side. I lofted her up on my shoulder in a showy flip when a blob that sounded like my buddy Don said, ” Hey DJ, you’re dancing with a dude.”

I froze up for a second with the kid on my shoulder. He was stuck there, just kind of resting, in a weird adaptation of playing dead that I assume every old west hooker appropriated. Don’s face took shape in the middle of the room that could have been a hallway or a space lab or the inside of a raindrop, and I realized, calmly, what was happening. I shoved him off of my shoulder in an unceremonious dump. The kid landed in a heap, bewildered, on the carpet that might have been cement.

I don’t remember laughing, I don’t remember sound, but I guess I was at least friendly. I kind of yelled, mostly out of confusion. “Why did you Dance With Me!?”

“You danced with me!” he corrected. I don’t know for sure, but I like to think I scratched my head like a caveman with big stupid eyes before shouting, “Why are you wearing a pink sweater?!”

He didn’t have a good answer.

That’s it. That’s the whole story. The rest of the night I passed out or drank more or passed out then drank more or drank more then passed out or the reverse of both of those. It doesn’t matter. The next morning I woke up at my friend’s house with no contacts, clothes streaked in grass stains and vomit, and a loose feeling that I’d done something wrong. A vague stupid regret that I still have sometimes. An empty “I’m sorry” that I don’t really know where to put or who it goes to.

I’d keep drinking like that for years. I don’t know why I stopped, or even if I did. But sometimes when I’m down, and feel like I need to feel different. I remember that that was certainly “different,” And I don’t need to feel that way again.


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