Last night I got wasted. Well, at least I acted like I did.
There were about six parties I was invited too - a lot of acquaintances were getting ready to move into new apartments and wanted to have one last “hurrah” in their places. It was to be a 2008-09 party revue.
Drinking at college is a centuries old tradition. In the middle ages, university students were notorious for getting drunk and rowdy. Fraternities would meet in the city center and duel: swords and mugs in hand. It wasn’t just tapestries and manuscripts that have survived, but a whole lifestyle.
According to the Mothers Against Drunk Driving website, 48 percent of college students drink, and one out of four of those forget where they go and what they do while drinking.
So, on deciding what to do for the night, my friend Amelia and I decided we would remember what we did. We would go out and drink - drink a cocktail of water and juice.
The first party I went to last night was next door: a going away shindig for my neighbor, Nicole. The apartment was empty except for a boom-box and bar stool. People were standing around, nonchalant, sipping drinks. The kitchen counter was filled with pints and fifths and two-liter bottles of soda. I decided, since I was home, to pour a sniffer of grape juice.
“Ooooh how fancy, how sophisticated,” one of the guests said. “What does it taste like?”
“Sweet,” I said, “and bitter.”
Stripped of all the comforts of living, the apartment accentuated what a party really consists of: drinking, dancing, and schmoozing.
After we got a designated driver to the next party in White Hall Apartments, we were greeted by fiery shouts from the balcony.
“What’s that?” one of my friends yelled. “A bottle of Jameson? I LOVE YOU MAN!”
It was easy to pretend that I was drunk, easy to gain the respect and comradery of my fellow party-goers. Just take all the stereotypical characteristics of a drunkard and exaggerate them.
Amelia and I were loud. We stuttered. We talked too much and didn’t listen enough. Whenever someone else was talking, we unscrewed the bottle and took a drink. Sober, I unexpectedly exhibited some of the same slip-ups I have had when drunk - tripping over people’s feet, making rude comments, forgetting names and mistaking faces.
When I took a long pull of the apple-pomegranate juice blend from a Jameson bottle, some guy said “that’s the stuff of being a man,” and slapped me on the back. I shuttered, a feign reaction to the “booze,” but also at the implication that I was a man because of what I was drinking. What if I had a bottle of Pucker in my hand? Or Boone’s Farm?
Throughout the party, I was tempted to take a sip from someone’s cup to stimulate my palate. The awkwardness of not drinking translated to the obnoxiousness of drinking too much.
By the end of the night I felt like I had wasted most of it. I had the same conversations with the same people I normally would have had, but the only difference was that I was not inebriated. Everything was “hey- how are you?”
“So what did you end up doing last night?”
For some reason or another, I cannot remember most of what happened for the rest of the night because nothing truly spectacular happened. Maybe that’s why one in four college students don’t remember what they did.
Writing this at my desk Sunday morning, I feel as alert as I have ever been. Yeah, I went to the party, got my photo taken - my name can be added to the week’s gossip and tagged in Facebook pictures, but I don’t know the last time I woke up on a Sunday when my memories had not been a puzzle spilled across the floor. To be honest, I wish they were - I would have made this recollection more enjoyable.
If drink, as in the classical sense, is worshiped as a way to forget the hardships of life, then maybe I have forgotten what it was like to not drink in a large social setting. Do I really need a bottle of booze to break out of my shell and have a fun time? Maybe, but how many times can you go back in it?
I better keep watch – Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, may be out for revenge upon reading this.