Have you ever chugged vodka straight out of the bottle and chased it with Pepsi?
I was probably 14, my parents were at the movies and my friend “Jill” was coming over. All that week we had discussed taking some slugs from my folk’s liquor cabinet, but nothing had been finalized. By the time she arrived at my front door, however, I was so drunk that I projectile vomited.
I'm not sure if any of the Pepsi, vodka and red Twizzler chum had the distance to land on her person, but Jill graciously gave me a pass on the puke parade. She even agreed to be a bridesmaid at my wedding in 1999.
Little did she know that on the evening in question, I had grabbed that clear magical elixir and started tossing it back the second my parents exited the driveway.
I proceeded to enjoy a liquid dinner, and it was heavenly.
Sure, the vodka was disgusting and it took great willpower to choke it down, but the instantaneous rewards were worth every burning, hellish swallow. Then I danced around the living room like nobody was watching, because nobody was.
Was it the best night of my life? Probably. Was it the worst night of my life? Maybe. Did I fall in love with alcohol? You know it.
It was during my high school years in Mt. Lebanon that I developed a somewhat more committed and deeply personal relationship with alcohol. We were by no means exclusive; it's hard to be a daily drinker in your teens, but I fell fast, hard and never really saw a permanent break-up in the cards.
Love is love, man.
Deep down in my innermost self, though, I had a lurking notion that alcohol had the potential to be extra bad for someone like me. Fortunately, I had the conviction and really bad judgment to tell my innermost self that she could f*ck off. I believed it was my right to make the best of things, which required a little help from beer—or whatever was in your parent's liquor cabinet.
Because I didn’t eat much in those days, I occasionally “lost time” when I drank. It was scary, but also awesome not to be present even for a little while. I was never the kind of blackout drinker who woke up in a different city or “came to” in a crack den. I merely had blank spaces, fuzziness and uncomfortable recollections of "oh yeah" that happened.
I didn’t dance around the living room much after that night, but I did do other embarrassing things. I also had my share of “I Nevers:”
- I was never physically addicted to alcohol
- I was never a daily drinker
- I was never a morning drinker (except on game-day and St. Patrick's Day!)
- I never got a DUI
- I never got arrested
- I never lost a job
- I never wrecked a car
- I never got in a physical altercation
- I never ended up under a bridge drinking out of a paper bag
Maybe because those things never happened and perhaps because I became fluent in denial, it was easy for me to believe that I could drink, and more importantly: that I should.