The night I had my first drink of alcohol was an eventful one. It was also the first night I smoked a cigarette, had sex, and bought porn. I had turned 18 a couple months prior. I told you I wasn’t cool in high school.
(BTW, only one of those four tales will be told here, because it’s honestly the only one that’s even remotely interesting.)
But it was also momentous in other ways. It helped me become a man.
Long story short, I was involved in a lot of culty fundamentalist religion as a teenager.
The first time I watched the Colbert Report, I really liked it. Because it took me several episodes to realize that it was satire. I genuinely loved the things he was saying. I also had a ridiculous martyr complex. I believed for a time that it was a sin for me to wave mosquitos away from me, because now the insect is just going to attack someone else. So I should just let it suck my blood. That’s not a joke.
Drinking might not be a big deal to 90% of young adults. But to my crowd of friends? It was. Especially since I had the gall to be honest about it. Being a pariah and getting ostracised from the main group of friends you’ve had your whole late teenage life isn’t an easy time.
But if I wanted to live my own life the way I wanted to, I had to break free of all that. Their reactions to my decision and their judgment of my choices showed me that they weren’t really my friends. I was an extension of their desire to feel better than others. It’s essentially bullying, but done with religion.
All of that intellectual shit is boring unless we’re chatting over a few beers, so I’m not going to get into any of it here, although the original version of this story contained a lot of it. (The “Afterthoughts” post, if any of you are old enough fans of my writing to remember.)
Here’s the story of what happened during, and after, the first night I decided to drink alcohol. As you can tell from the rest of this blog, I’ve poured a steady stream of daddy’s medicine down my throat ever since.
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It was the last weekend before I started my new job in tech support so I wanted to hang out with all my friends again before it was too late and I could never see them again because work prevents me from having a social life.
Got lost on the way to Tracy’s dorm room, and ended up on the wrong way of a busy one-way street, so I had to call her and have her coach me on where to find it. This was pre-GPS and before smartphones. We used to have to print out MapQuest results. Uphill both ways.
The two of us went to Dairy Queen so I could order a Flamethrower burger. Food obsessions seem to be a common theme in my life. There was confusion over what size a ‘large’ was at this particular store. I don’t like confusion.
Me “Give me the biggest french fries thing you have. I don’t care what it is. Just give me the most fries that you possibly can.”
She ordered ice cream and some chicken thingies. We took the tray out of the restaurant to go eat in my car.
I was parked near an outdoor trash can, so I took this opportunity to clean all the trash out from the floor of the front seat. This was a regular occurrence; I would just throw any garbage (that wasn’t food or anything that would spoil) onto the floor of my car. Since I had a guest, I guess I’ll clean it out. You know, to be nice.
There was a wooden shovel in my backseat specifically for this reason.
No, not like that.
Yeah, basically one of those.
I was such a filthy car person that I kept a fucking snow shovel in my backseat. It was a lot easier to get the garbage from inside the car, to inside the trash can.
Driving around eating our fast food, I got a call from my recently-ex-girlfriend. I won’t bore you with all the drama, but basically she claimed she was pregnant because she had been throwing up all week. She claimed she’d got an ultrasound, that it was a girl, that it was conceived two weeks ago… yeah she was lying. The conversation consisted of me saying mean things to her while Tracy and I held back our laughter.
We went over to Monica’s place, and they were looking at people’s “Facebooks” which seemed to me like some ripoff of MySpace. Some people’s profiles were lame, some had WAY too many of those app/widget things on them, but some people had some funny stuff on there. (This was back when you could customize your profile, like your own personal mini-website.)
Somewhere along in the evening, one of them started talking about what effects alcohol usually have on her.
What does it do to me?
Me “I wouldn’t know. I’ve never drank alcohol before.”
Monica “Seriously? Like never?”
Me “Well, I’ve had NyQuil a few times. 5% alcohol.”
Tracy “Okay. You are having your first shot of vodka tonight.”
Me “Okay cool.”
Tracy leaves and comes back with a bottle of Powerade. It is green, but a bit off-color from the usual green. She tells me there is vodka in it. This was a novel concept to me. I’d never really thought about how a teenager might hide alcohol, because I’d never done it.
I took the bottle in my hand.
Tracy “Oh wait! I have to get a picture of this!”
Exit Tracy, stage left.
I chatted with Monica a bit while Tracy was getting her camera. We had actual cameras in 2006.
Monica “I can smell it from here.”
Me “I can’t. Seriously, I don’t smell it.”
She comes back into the room.
Tracy “Whatever you do, don’t smell it before you drink it.”
She pours some and mixes it with something else, telling me there are two shots of vodka in this cup. I take the cup. I have no idea how much a “shot” is, let alone two.
I take a sip. It tastes like cigarettes, peppermint, and ginger ale. I hate all three of those things. I have a disgusted look on my face. Tracy takes a picture. Goody.
I drink the rest over the next 10-20 minutes or so, remembering that “nobody drinks it for the taste.” Well obviously. Who likes this shit?
[Editor’s Note: That’s how I wrote that paragraph 12 years ago for the original version of this story. I was so cute as a teenager; now I can’t get enough of the juice.]
After I was finished, we all headed out to a grocery store to get food. I want to drive. Tracy says no and takes my keys away from me. Probably a good idea, since literally my very first course of action after having my first drink ever was to attempt to drive under the influence.
In the car, my stomach starts to feel warm, and my coordination begins to shift a tiny bit. Not very noticeable; like if I tried to sprint, I would probably fall on my face.
After taking forever to decide what I want to eat, I buy about $20 worth of snacks, none of which I ended up eating at all. Tracy got an unreasonably large case of Diet Mountain Dew.
Back in Tracy’s dorm room, the three of us continue drinking. I didn’t have a ton, but my best estimate puts my total night somewhere around 5-7 standard drinks, all within a couple hours or so.
I was pretty woozy. I had never drank and had no clue what to expect, so I didn’t really handle any of it well.
EVERYTHING seemed fun and funny to me now. I would accidentally hit my head on something and laugh endlessly about it. I was a fucking child who’d just come back from the dentist, with no idea how lost I really was in the world.
But it was the start of something new in life.
Some of the highlights of my antics throughout the evening:
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I checked a voicemail on my phone, and then decided impromptu to change my answering message. The reason I have this verbatim is because I left this as my voicemail recording for a LONG time.
“This! Is Adam! And you are calling… my phone. But! No, because… I’m not answering it. So… you’re gonna have to like… call me back or something. [Noises in the background.] Hahaha Monica’s falling! Hahahahaha! Ah, holy crap. Call me back or something! [Aside] Hey, you poked the thing that I got surgery on. [Muffled voices in the background.] Oh yeah, I had a mole when I was like 12. I’m doing alright. Um okay. Umm.”
Tracy interjects mid-voicemail.
“Hi from Tracy!”
[Some more bullshit happening, me laughing a lot, etc.]
Tracy “Hang up. You’re still leaving a voicemail.”
Me “Yeah, I’m gonna hang up now. So you can leave me a… no, you’re not leaving me a voicemail right NOW; you’re… you’re GONNA call me and leave a… a voice…. mail…….. hello? ………. hello?”
Eventually it ran out of time.
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My friend Jerry texted me.
Me “Yo. What’s up? Tracy gave me a shot of vodka. I… yeah… I’m not driving. Don’t tell the cops.”
Jerry “Dude, not even you can be drunk after one shot.”
Me “I’m not drunk”
Jerry “Haha then what’s the deal with driving?”
Me “Bye ok I took more shots”
Jerry “Haha maybe Adam is drunk.”
I invited him to join us.
Jerry “How the hell do you expect me to get there?”
There is a very specific reason he still doesn’t have a drivers license, and I was very much involved in the incident.
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In what was apparently a tried-and-true party game for drunk newbies, Tracy and Monica end up convincing me that my pants are inside out. I change them to go the other way and rejoin the group. (They weren’t inside out to begin with.)
Later, after a bit more booze, they again tell me that my pants are on inside out.
I look down. I swear I remember turning them around. But yes, my pants were indeed inside out. There was no debating that. I was having trouble forming advanced thoughts at this point, but they were right.
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A couple hours later, the three of us were asleep. I was on the floor. I woke up thirsty. I decided to go to a nearby convenience store to acquire something.
I grab my wallet and cell phone, and walk out the door. It isn’t until I start walking on the cement outside that I realize I’m not wearing any shoes. Too late now.
As I journey the 2-3 blocks, a police officer drives by. I have never been drunk before. I am not sure how to act when I see a cop, but apparently he wasn’t paying any attention either.
My feet are a bit cold.
I get to the store and walk in. The attendant is talking to about six people who are standing at the counter. She looks at me and informs me that I can’t come in without shoes.
I look at the people she’s talking to if they’ll buy me something. They turn around to leave, saying something about “Sorry man, we have to go.” Fuck them.
Unsure of what to do, I stand outside and ponder for a moment or so. A woman walks past me into the store. I try to stop her, but am ignored. I feel homeless.
Two more girls walk past me, but before they can get through the door, I call out to them.
Me “Wait, hang on a sec!”
One of them turns around and eyes me suspiciously, seemingly a bit afraid of me. I am nothing but reassuring and normal.
Me “No, I’m not gonna hurt you or whatever. I just need a favor.”
Me “I want some Mountain Dew, but my shoes are on — my shoes are — I shoes — my —”
I point to my feet.
Me “I can’t go in.”
I hand her two dollars.
Me “Can you please buy me a Mountain Dew? Biggest one they have. Whatever it is.”
I motion with my hands, like a kid saying “this big.”
She smirks a bit.
Girl “Okay, sure.”
Me “Thank you so much.”
In what felt like three hours later, she returns. I thank my guardian angel, and we go our separate ways.
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As I’m walking back from the convenience store, I get a little lost. It’s not a large area, so I hadn’t gone far, but I wasn’t exactly sure of the way back. I still had a little bit of alcohol in me, and I guess my brain wasn’t used to creating neural pathways with ethanol in the way. Don’t worry little buddy, you’ll learn.
I check my phone, which was apparently on silent since I had six missed calls from Tracy.
I press the voicemail button. She is crying in hysterics, wondering where I am, concerned that I am “dead somewhere, drowned in a river.” I guess she was a little drunk too.
Right as I’m about to call her, we see each other.
There are like five people with her. I don’t know who they are. I don’t think they’re cops.
It is against campus policy to drink any alcohol on campus. It is also against campus policy to have any overnight guests spend the night in your dorm room unless they’re signed in. Even then, they can only be of the same sex. Yeah, I grew up in North Dakota, so this type of conservative no-boys-until-marriage is to be expected.
Perhaps most importantly, it is against the LAW to consume alcohol if you’re under 21. As I’m not wearing any shoes, I draw quite a bit of attention to myself. Up until this point, I really hadn’t even considered any of the consequences of my actions.
Turns out the people she was with were RA’s. Student administrative staff for the dorm building she was staying in. She contacted a couple of them in her panicking worry for my safety.
She ended up getting in a bit of trouble for having an unauthorized overnight guest, but I guess the rest (like the underage consumption, minor in possession, etc.) got swept under the rug. But that’s pretty much on her for contacting the campus authorities for help while a bunch of minors are drinking. I was probably gone for 20 minutes.
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The original version of this story contained a bunch of recounting of everything that happened the rest of the weekend. At the time, I guess I thought chasing geese around a park, vomiting behind a building, playing chess with an old friend, hanging out with some people playing Halo, all somehow qualified as some legendary weekend worth writing about.
At this point in my life, rereading the whole thing, I wouldn’t even put any of this shit in a tweet. Whatever I thought was momentous at 18, now feels like chump change.
Here’s a Grammarly comparison between the original story I wrote 12 years ago, and the post you’re reading right now:
About half the size. You’re not missing much.
The only salvageable bit is what happened while I was figuring out how the hell I was going to take a shower the next morning, because I stank something awful.
Through a great feat of detective work, I finally manage to locate one of the men’s dormitories. (I couldn’t exactly shower in Tracy’s dorm.)
Problem. Keycard access.
I turn around and see someone walking by.
Me “Hey, I can’t get in the building, do you have a student keycard?”
Girl “Umm… yeah… do you live here?”
That would make sense. I should say yes.
Me “….. No. I just need to shower.”
Girl “Why do you need to shower here?”
Please make something up.
Me “Uhh…. because I can’t shower in the girls’ dorm.”
Girl “Did you spend the night with a girl in the dorm or something?”
I should probably avoid getting Tracy in potentially any more trouble than she already is.
Me “Yes. But that’s against the rules, so no, I didn’t.”
She thinks I’m funny. She tries to open the door, but her keycard doesn’t work. Probably because she doesn’t live in the men’s dormitory.
Just then, some guy exits the building.
I catch the door. I look over at the girl, and both of us are momentarily unsure of what to do. I made my decision. I thank the girl, she smiles and waves goodbye, and I walk in to find the showers.