My First Party Victory
I am going to preface this story by noting that winning a party is exceptionally hard. In all the time I’ve gone drinking, I would say I have won the party twice. Once freshman year and one senior year – cozy bookends to my collegiate career. It is also worth noting that not every party need have a winner. This is not a title that is bequeathed at the end of each night to the least lame among a party’s attendees, nor is it a title handed to the drunkest person there, as any asshole can be the drunkest person at a party. However it does help, as to properly win a party one must find a way to be distinguished from the throng, and being highly inebriated (or rather, “decision-making challenged” as I like to call it) makes it more likely for memorable failures of choice. Either way, know that if you want to win the party, just like in almost everything else, no one will ever give it to you. You want that crown you fucking take it.
As a final note, almost no one who wins the party will ever remember it. It will exist as painfully distinct fragments behind your eyes, broken but very specific images and memories, with neither preceding nor following moments.. You will no more be able to call forth the night in full than you will be able to bring back the dead. If you ever win a party I hope you have friends documenting it, else the only testaments to your evening will be bruises and anything you may have lost or stolen along the way. As I said, I have won the party twice. Here is the first of those recollections.
Freshman year, early second semester. I think. Or late first semester. The exact timing is unimportant, except as a means of noting that it was terrifically cold out, and basketball season. I was with a group of friends, and the plan was to take lots of shots, go to the basketball game and be rowdy. So we did, because I’m the kind of kid who sticks to the fucking plan. Rip 8 shots, (I can always do the drinking part of any plan) then go to the basketball game. Be rowdy? Not so much. I’ve never been the kind of person who can yell at the referees or other players. Not only do I rarely know what to say, I’m just afraid of confrontation, what if the dude turns around and looks at me, and I just wither before his fury? Not happening. I sit still, stay mostly quiet and just spend the game making random side comments. “I wonder what #12’s position on teabagging is?” “#15 just made an horrific decision, he should probably be on the bench” “How many beers do you think that ref could drink? Like on the one hand he’s kind of old, but on the other he looks like the kind of person whose life sucks and he deals with it by going home and drinking himself senseless every night. I’d put it at 16.” Random, sort of funny but more insightful/depressing thoughts than anything else.
I knew the night was going to be weird because despite the number of shots I had taken in a short time period, I did not feel drunk at all during any part of the contest. Which obviously meant it was time to start drinking again, because what’s life without its best anesthetic. After bouncing around a few rooms (I was known as “the wandering alcoholic,” by one of my best friends a year above me, tribute to my penchant for walking from room to room on weekends with a solo cup full of whatever heinous concoction I had prescribed for myself that evening) I ended up at a friend’s birthday party. There were lots of humans and even more bottles of Andre, but it was the kind of party that had “broken up at 11:30 by security” inscribed into its itinerary from the start. Over the course of my 30-odd minutes there I was introduced for the first time to a long island iced tea and a bunch of kids who were much too happy to be there: show some proper decorum, dick – “your optimism nauseates me (Ignatius J. Reilly).”
I was there with several of my African friends and none of us are particularly fond of security so when we heard they were coming we immediately bounced, and I hid two bottles of my champagne under my coat on the way out because I was a terrible human freshman year. Yet as we emerged from the party we were in a precarious situation: security was in the area and we had no viable room in the hallway to hide out in. Rather than stand there like deer caught in the headlights (unless there’s a metaphor that reads ‘like freshman caught before authority’s gaze’) we went to the best place we could think of to imbibe our liquid treasure: the bathroom. But not just any part of the bathroom, because security checks the stalls: we walked to the showers, those cleansing pits of plantar fasciitis and co-ed camaraderie.
Three of us hustled thereto, where we popped the first bottle and passed it around. Then popped the other one and passed it around, pausing only to sit in utter silence when the door creaked wearily open to announce the death of fun: security. Older men with maroon jackets, unnecessarily large flashlights and ominously booted steps, carrying radios with cracked voices chirping out secret codes meant to unite each disparate officer against the night and the hordes of drunks with whom they pursued an unceasing but never violent war each weekend. The man performed his check and walked out to a silent sigh of relief, after which we continued. And that is the first time I round housed cheap champagne in the shower with a bunch of black dudes, a rite we attempted to revive once a semester for memories sake, or rather, as the night would turn out, a lack of memories sake.
Because as it turns out, despite not feeling the effects of that first salvo of shots, I was getting quite drunk – they acted as a multiplier, if you will. My subsequent actions would be one of the last things I remember about the evening. I stumbled down to my friend Will’s room, knowing he always had reserves of alcohol on stock. Will was out, but his roommates were talking to some friends. I continued to stumble right by them (though not before doing my best to look alert and like I wasn’t doing anything shady by announcing myself quite clearly) to Will’s freezer. Fucking Jackpot – bottle of vodka and a bottle of 151. Rip several shots of vodka. Put down shot of 151. Friend A says, “I’m pretty sure you don’t need that.”
I steadied myself and smiled to indicate I was all right, “Who said anything about need? This is an experiment,” and threw it down, feeling my body burst into flame. That’s the thing about 151. Other shots; whiskey, rum, vodka, they’ll burn you a little, but if you wait out that short storm it shakes off quickly. With 151 that just does not happen. It burns your mouth, and then your esophagus and then your rib cage and then your stomach and then a little part of your soul. I’ve always felt like every shot of it I’ve taken has left me with some sort of spiritual wound, that alongside my liver there is another organ into which that particular liquid is decanted, and some creature of judgment therein will strike a mark in a ledger book, saying, “fucking kid’s at it again. He hates that stuff why does he keep drinking it?” and I do not have a good answer for him, beyond the recurring desire to punish myself.
I walked triumphantly out of the room, but after that the night is just images, which I will recount to you with my friend’s comments for context. There is a brief moment at the top of the TH path whre I saw Will, and shouted “Hey buddy! I took some of your liquor.” Apparently Will then walked over to confirm my announcement of theft, and joke punched me in the face. To which I offered no visible sign of any response, which apparently enraged him to the point of fake-punching me slightly harder. At which point my nose started to bleed profusely.
Will then proceeded to walk my bleeding, stumbling drunk ass around to various houses in search of some benevolent stranger who would allow him to wash me (wash myself? Out of the question). My last brief memory is of a door opening to reveal a beautiful girl, who took one look at me and said, “You know you’re bleeding, like, a lot.” That moment occurred a little after midnight, and immediately following it I woke up with, as the brilliantly concise Kwesi always puts it, nothing but questions. “What the fuck happened to me last night?” I croaked at Scott, my roommate.
He paused for a moment before saying, “well, bro… You threw up on your bed.” I groaned, and turned around to learn that I had, indeed, thrown up on the wall behind my bed. It could have been worse, but starting my day off with dried vomit behind my wall was new. I stood up and examined myself to note a fresh and pretty serious bruise on my hip, impressive grass stains on my pants and no small amount of skin missing from one of my hands. Great. I opened the door to get water, and upon my doorstep I found evidence that people can be good: My coat, shoes, wallet, and Vcard had all been left outside by some benevolent stranger. I piled them inside and then went out to get my drink of water, after which I walked downstairs to open the front door and face get a good look at the day. On the fire alarm just outside the door was my phone. Any night in which you have lost nothing but memory can’t be too bad, I thought to myself.
I have never met another human who was able to confirm to me what happened that night. No one stepped forward to announce themselves as my benefactor. Will says I stumbled off and he didn’t see me for the rest of the night, but none of my other friends have confirmed they saw me. There is a 2 hour stretch there that will be forever lost to the world. The following year I did run into the girl from the TH, who told me that she saw me in the mug later, which served only to make me groan inwardly rather than as any sort of comfort. Besides that thought, though? Nothing but questions.
That, children, is how you win a party.