I remember a mass of things, but nothing distinctly. A quarrel, but nothing wherefore. Oh, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! That we should, with joy, pleasance revel and applause, transform ourselves into beasts! —Othello Act 2, Scene 3.
Well, I’ve missed a day already (it’s 12:09 a.m. on the 18th here in Japan.) In my defense, I decided to wait until I was drunk.
I just got home because today was the farewell party for a good friend and colleague who’s not only proposed to his longtime girlfriend but is moving on to a job with more work and less pay but more stability. Now, given that background, I could use this post to talk about friendship, marriage or ambition; I also could have written this before I went out, but since I thought I’d be home earlier–until we went to a place that had good food and cheap beer–and since I’m less than sober, let’s talk about drinking too much.
Many years ago I dated a recovering alcoholic. On occasion, we would go to places where I would drink wine or beer. She was impressed that I could stop after only a couple drinks.
I told her that I learned to do that the hard way. Back in my fraternity days I discovered the temporary joys involved in drinking a lot and immediately rushed out to drink a lot. I could usually control it but that was mostly a matter of not having much money. One year, for reasons that border on laughable, I was appointed Chaplain of my fraternity. This is one of the easiest jobs in the house because you’re only responsible for organizing ceremonies, which don’t happen very often. Instead, I instituted a regime of Spiritual Demerits for those house members who didn’t live up to whatever ideals I decided were necessary at the time.
One Thursday, as was our tradition, we had an L.A. Law party, which amounted to buying a six-pack of Corona Beer and drinking while the tv show was on because that seemed a very yuppie thing to do and we really didn’t need much of pretense to start drinking. (Okay, I drank Corona. So what?) After that, we decided to go drinking and, for various reason, I didn’t have to buy any. I then met my friend Steve who guided me to a new bar where I consumed more free beer and something called a Kamikaze, which is a shot consisting of tequila, triple sec and lime juice.
To make a long story short, there was some evacuation of stomach contents involved at the bar and, on the way home, a toilet break in a clump of trees that somehow involved me falling over and smacking my head on a rock. I managed to get home, beat on the door rather than trying the combination lock and shocked my fraternity “pseudo little brother” (long story) by having blood all over my face. When he asked what had happened I explained “The rock flew up and behold the rock was hard” which actually made a kind of profound sense at the time.
What happened next is fuzzy. I remember sitting down to evacuate other parts of my body. I remember laying down on the floor in the stall. I remember getting up and going to bed. I didn’t realize that over two hours had passed between the time I sat down and the time I got up and that there’d been a discussion about taking me to the hospital or not.
I missed school the next day and was sick for three days. None of it was very pleasant, but I learned how to turn off the drinking once I got started. I learned at which point I should switch to water. I also learned to eat more to help slow down my drinking. I no longer felt the need to match people drink for drink. As a result, I’ve not been sick from drinking since then and have managed to remember everything I did, for better and for worse. Unfortunately, I even remember that time after I first came to Japan when I sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” with my boss at a karaoke bar. But that’s fodder for another post.)
You think you can out drink me? Really? Really? You’re right. You win. Drink up.