By Andrew Culligan
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Some people cannot control their liquor, mostly inexperienced drinkers, mostly underage drinkers. My friend Al cannot hold his liquor. Right now I am watching him shotgun his fifth beer of the night, which does not seem like a big deal except that he’s drinking a Milwaukee’s Best and we just started drinking 20 minutes ago. The problem with most out of control drinkers is not always their age, but rather their lack of quality time spent figuring out the properties, truths, lies, and misgivings found only in an alcoholic reality. It is not so much a new reality as it is a distortion of your current world, a haze that only confuses. To best understand alcohol though, it is easiest to see the world as a totally new experience, one in which you learn fundamental rules and tasks over again. I began to teach myself at a fairly young age the ways of the world of alcohol so that by the time I reach of the legal age to drink, I will achieve the legendary maturity level expected of 21-year-old adults. Al started drinking at roughly the same age as me, but as I watch him wipe his mouth then roar in approval of his own speed, I know that he cannot control himself in anything except a straight forward reality.
The realization of my good judgment while in an alcoholic reality has three stages: teen years, college years, and adult years. Every period ends in a new level of maturity with alcohol. Of course the teen years is a stage at which I started drinking, roughly on my thirteenth birthday. It was not very smart, adding a new perspective on things right when I was getting a new perspective with puberty. After four years being rowdy got boring and not cool since a wild drinker was a trait of someone who recently became cool and just started to drink. College came around to challenge this perceptive because it is fun to be crazy when you can’t get into real trouble when your parents are not around. Granted, you can get in trouble for things like public urination, but real trouble can only come from your parents. Being away from that authority is intoxicating enough without alcohol, but when they are combined it is unbelievable. Not only will you do anything now but it is also o.k. to do it since there are far fewer consequences. Thinking about everyone’s lack of authority over me right now, I turn up the music to feel it move through my head and get stuck in my blood where it just gets stuck and makes you want restless. Al must have just noticed that I was now just as jittery as him.
“When’d they say they were coming over?” he shouted over the music.
“They said five minutes,”
“Liars!” he says as he picks up the phone.
I turn down the music just in time to see the Jims coming through the door, similar in stature and all dressed up in typical college clothing. Al hangs up the phone, “Finally. Where were you guys?”
“We were just talking to our neighbor Gabe. He’s got a party to go to if you don’t want to go to the bars.”
“Shut up and start drinking.”
“All right, but I told him to come over to tell us where it’s at,” Jim C. asks as he catches a beer from Al. “Where are the girls?”
“Girls? Who needs girls? Guys night out.”
“They went home for the weekend,” I say trying to ease Jim’s obvious irritation with drunk Al. I hold up my beer, “Guys night out.”
After chugging that beer we start on the next of many rounds talking about this and that, nothing too deep. About an hour and a half later Gabe shows up. I’ve never met him before so I was shocked to see a husky, bald Mexican, average in height. Something about his demeanor put me at ease immediately though. Looking at him I could tell he was very strong, but he held his body in a way that was not confrontational, just relaxed. There was a sense of intelligence with him, you could see it in his face. He was always smiling and looked genuinely happy and friendly. It made me forget quickly that I had once thought that he slightly resembled a gang-banger. Five girls follow him in. “Let’s get this party started fellas.”
“This is my friend Gabe,” Jim C says proudly. “Why don’t you get them some beers Al.”
After the introductions, an uncomfortable silences takes it’s place until the girl named Lindsey bursts out, “Gabe did I ever tell you what happened last weekend? No? It was crazy! I got home at around four in the morning to find my door unlocked (yeah, my roommate’s a ditz) and a guy from around the corner, passed out on the floor. It was that creep Jeff, so I kicked him and was like, ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ and he was like all drunk so he was trying to stand up but it was not working out. So I go ‘Hey, what the hell are you doing in here?’ And he goes, ‘I was just looking for my contact.’”
“What? Why didn’t you call me to beat his ass?” Gabe says smiling. I could tell he would have used more of an intimidation approach than a physical approach.
“Well, you know, he is my roommates friend, so I just assumed he was there to see her. She wasn’t there though so I made him leave because I was all creeped out. But the next day I was looking in my underwear drawer and I found a contact! I was so grossed out!”
“What did he say when you showed it to him?” one of the girls asks with an overly concerned tone in her voice.
“Well I asked him what he did over the weekend and he claims he doesn’t know how he got home even. My roommate verified that he was really drunk, so I don’t know. I can’t yell at him for that, but it’s still so indecent.”
We all laugh and Gabe asks, “So, do you want to head out to the party? It’s at the Acacia’s house.”
Frat-boys. Al and I do not get along well with frat-boys. We knew so many people when we got down to school that a frat seemed like a silly, archaic concept reserved for desperate kids who needed to buy friends. To make it worse Acacia is the house where the guys sit outside their house with a little wading pool, yelling things at girls. But I am always up for a party so before Al could voice his complaint I say, “Let’s go. We’re not supposed to drink in the dorms anyway, and my R.A.’s going to be coming by soon with all these people and all this music. Everyone finish up and we’ll get going.”
Everyone chugs their beer and we leave. Two blocks later we are at the Acacia house. It is a big house, relatively new since they just got kicked of their old house. In front of the white house is a lawn raised two feet above the ground by stones and topped with an orange snow fence. On these lawns what looks like an American Eagle commercial of frat-boys guard the house. At the opening is a table where two guys with frosted spiked hair make sure nobody uninvited gets by them. Ladies get in free, guys have to know somebody. Gabe goes up to someone at the fence shakes hands and starts talking to him. After they both laugh at something, the other guy nods at the entrance and Gabe holds up one finger while telling us, “Hold on, I have to find my friend inside.”
“Is Gabe an Acacia?” Jim T. asks the girls.
“No,” Lindsey giggles. “He’s just our bald friendly teddy-bear. He’s just friends with everyone. Any time there is a party you can….”
Opting out of the conversation, Al turns to me and says, “This place sucks, let’s go try and get in the back.”
“Sounds good to me. Where do you want to take it, on the left? That looks like it would be the easiest,” We snuck into many concerts and parties and were quite adept at it.
“I don’t care.” We are walking past the lawn to the left side of their house. “Let’s just scope it out, you know. See if we can find a backdoor or sidedoor.”
Going along the side, we make towards a parking garage acting like we are not going to the house while we talk about mythical girls we had seen in our fake night at the bars. We are pretty smooth going along, but frat guys are notorious assholes when in numbers. Four guys are guarding that side of the lawn and watch us pass them, continuing along the side of the house. When we are down half the length of the house, heading away from it, one of the guys looks at us says, “Hey were are you guys going?”
“I gotta piss man,” Al says keeping his head down and walking a little bit faster. It’s over.
“They’re probably going to try to sneak in the back.” Another says as they all start a forced laugh, designed to make us uncomfortable.
“No, man I just gotta piss, that’s all.”
I stop and turn around, knowing full well that we were not getting in the back, “Yes. I’m trying to sneak in your house, do you have a problem with it?”
Al is a big guy and a hard-ass, while I am small and have never been in a fight. Nevertheless, it was I picking that fight, up there at the fence in the guy’s face. He looks at me and says, “Yeah, I do.”
“I’m just going to sneak into the back of your house, what’s the big deal?”
“Get the fuck outta here,” he says throwing his head back laughing, trying to keep his cool.
“I want an apology right now and I want you to let me in.”
“Dude you are not getting in here tonight. You lost your chance, now just go home.”
“I got your back,” Al says behind me. I can’t hear what he’s saying, but he’s having words with someone else on the lawn.
“What if I just jumped over your fence? I think I’m just going to sneak in right here,” I start climbing the fence.
“Get off fence,” he says irritated, pushing me off the fence.
“Hey! Don’t fuckin’ touch him.”
“Don’t push me, I’m just climbing over your fence.”
By now there are about six guys behind the fence, with the Jims trying to calm down the situation. The guy I was confronting takes my hat and tells me to leave to get my hat back.
“What are you doing? Counting? What’s this kid doing?”
“Gimmee my hat back. 2…
I lunge over the fence going for the guy as much as the hat. It must have been over pretty quick because there were a lot of people there to break it up; no punches were even thrown it looks like. When I get my hat back I voluntarily walk towards the street by where we had been standing. While everyone is making peace with each other, I decide to go over to a post holding up the orange fence and try to pull it up. My plan is to pull down most of their fence before they catch me. Right away, a friend of the guy I was fighting with before says, “Hey, what are doing?”
“I’m just taking out your fence, relax.”
I look at him and very deliberately, as if I was being interrupted it the middle of something important, say, “Calm down. I’m just taking out your fence.”
“What are you talking about? Stop trying to take down my fence!”
“Just shut the fuck up and let me finish this.”
“No, stop that right now.”
“Just shut the fuck up.”
“You shut the fuck up and stop…”
“Just shut the fuck up.”
After a few more rounds of this, he becomes red in the face and his friends need to hold him back from lunging at me. The Jims usher me away from the fence and redouble their peace keeping mission at this location now, determined to still get into the party. I am back to talking to Al and one of the girls, laughing at how they had lost their control. Listening, I hear a guy behind the fence say, “Sorry about that. We don’t want a fight.”
“He’s just drunk. We don’t want a fight either, he’s just fucking around with you guys.”
“Tell him to stop telling me to shut the fuck up,” the fence man was trying to be assertive from a distance.
When I heard this I jumped out of the conversation that I was in and walked up the guy, screaming while pointing at his face, “You shut the fuck up!”
This repeated one for another good ten times, never letting him get a word in edgewise. Infuriated, he tries to spit out words but it just made his face more red with frustration. Two of his friends drag him off, while the Jims usher me away telling me to calm down. I start insisting to know why they were taking his side and out of anger, say a general fuck you to everyone and go home by myself. When I get to my room I leave a babbling angry message on their machine, and then call them first thing in the morning to apologize.