i’ll have the regular and keep ’em comin’


I really miss drinking, and I say that as somebody who can still drink. I keep a bottle of Macallan 18 in the cupboard and usually something else in the freezer (like Chopin vodka, or something equally snooty) but the dropoff of alcohol consumption in my life over the last six years has been gargantuan and dramatic.

In Chapel Hill, as many of you will remember, there was a will, a way, and a place to get drunk every night of the week. These nights tended to change every year or so, but in 1990, it was Ham’s on Monday, Groundhog’s on Tuesday, Players/Club Zen on Wednesday, Molly’s on Thursday, and the list goes on and on. Each of you can fill in the names from your own college towns, but we had no problem getting actually drunk five or six nights a week.

One day a guy came into our fraternity, most likely at the behest of the Inter-Fraternity Council in a desperate attempt to keep Fun in existence without the requisite lawsuits (a move that failed, but that’s another story). This man was some sort of Alcoholic Counselor, and told us “if you drink to get drunk more than twice a year, you are probably an alcoholic.” A nice enough guy, but his message was insanely stupid, as it only made us go out and do fourteen tequila shots in his honor a couple of hours later.

At Club 510, where Salem and I lived at the beginning of the 1990s, we used to have two kegs of Goebel’s ($40 each!), stashes of vodka, bourbon and wine – and Salem used to concoct vats of kamaikaze shots, going around to the party guests and getting them each to take a ladle. It was par for the course, and I remember all hangovers (such as they were) easily cleaned up with two Tylenol Sinus pills.

I loved the culture of drinking, perhaps because I came so late to the party. My first actual sip of alcohol came in Jon Vaden’s dorm room in Lewis when we were freshman. He had gotten his roommate Bradford to buy us 2-liter bottles of Sun Country Wine Cooler, and thus Jon, Chip, Bud, me and whomever girls we could wrangle from Cobb Dorm would come over and play a card game called EGDAP (Everyone Get Drunk and Puke).

Those particular drunks were the best I ever had, innocent and free of agenda, and I spent the next fifteen years trying to feel like that again. I came close (Dook game in ’92, my bachelor party) but soon felt the effect of diminishing returns. By the time I was 30 and living in Beachwood Canyon, drinking felt like a luxury I could no longer stomach.

These days, I have to:

a) decide I’m going to get drunk

b) take two Chaserâ„¢ pills

c) take one Zantac

d) imbibe alcohol

e) drink one glass of water per drink

f) cancel all plans for the next two days.

I mean, it’s usually worth it, but the spontaneity factor is pathetic. The Chaser pills do work in removing the “feel like death” element of the next day, but it can do nothing for the fatigue.

But on a Wednesday night like this, with both my awesome wife and my unbelievably fantastic daughter already asleep, I think about the nights that began at midnight and ended up four fingers down a bottle of Midori. I remember all those great liquors we kept around the house: Kahlua, Goldschlager, cinnamon schnapps, Jack Daniels, Cuervo 1800, even Jaegermeister. You are not gone, not forgotten, merely truncated. I will visit you again like my old friends; every few months, so we can still howl at the moon and behave terribly.


I’d caption this pic from ’89, but you all know who you are!

0 thoughts on “i’ll have the regular and keep ’em comin’

  1. caveman

    Its a seismic shift in your life when hangovers move from silly little head and tummy aches to arm wrestling matches with Charon.

  2. scruggs

    Ah, nostalgia. Didn’t have my first drink until I got to Chapel Hill as a freshman…and Wild Berry wine coolers at that. That first week in Granville, the older kids on the hall got us little freshman hammered and handcuffed me and some boy together and took us to Players. Very bizarre. That same month, I got my fake ID thanks to sorority rush which then kicked off a wave of good times. Of course, 2 years and a cumulative GPA of 1.75 later (try explaining a 1.0 semester to the folks), I figured I should start making it to class and stop the bars by night/The Pit by day cycle. Luckily a 3.6 for the “back 9” of college kept things respectable and got me into grad school. But good times indeed.
    It was those 3 years of bartending at Bub’s that all but extinguished my desire for alcohol. That and I’m cheap and would rather save the $8 a pop for Stoli & OJ these days.
    You mention often not going out until midnight, as was the case for most of college. I still wonder how we could survive on multiple years of no sleep yet now get ragged out so easily when our kids appear. Back grad school, I could get to campus for classes starting at 8am, then get my studying done, then teach a few classes for the math dept, then tutor for the athletic dept, then make it to Bub’s for my 10pm-3am shift, and do it all over again the next day. But now, if our kid wakes me up just one time during the night, interrupting my 7-8hr stretch, I’m done for the next day.

  3. John Schultz

    Amen brother. I broke bad a few weeks ago with the vodka and it wasn’t pretty. Your blog really got me thinking this mornign about the good old days. In a fit of nostalgia, I remembered the 1986 2nd floor west hall crawl at Granville towers. Everclear OD and dry heaves for two days. I broke my watch and made a complete ass of myself…a trend that continued through my final days in CH.
    You are so right about the spontaneity being the best part. Block might remember the party we had one day at our house when a massive game of drunken kick ball broke out. I set my all time beer record that day but what I remember most is Louisa Bolick falling flat on her face rounding second and never getting up again- passed out!

  4. Sean M.

    Twice a YEAR makes you an alcoholic?!? I always thought it was twice a week. I think that guy must have made commissions off of AA signups.
    For the second time this week, I’m discussing my first drunk. I was a junior in high school and went to a party with my older brother and some of his friends. We played drinking games with…Strawberry Hill Boone’s Farm. I shudder just thinking of it.

  5. Jody

    Um. From the post and feedback, I can see that my wife and I are apparently alcoholics. My cousin at the Independent was pretty good about getting some bourbon and I haven’t really let up since freshman year, especially after spending a semester around the bourbon and ginger habits of Joe Q.
    Anyway, in the picture, Vic!, if you’re lurking, then Andrea thinks you’re the best baby deliverer ever. We’re still in Monford, look us up.

  6. Cris

    Your post is making me nostalgic for the Chapel Hill of the late 80s/early to mid 90s. Thursdays for my crowd was only one place: listening to Brett spin at Club Zen. I have very fond memories of the night we closed the place down, literally, when the building owner refused to renew their lease (complaining that the club attracted too many blacks and too many fags, he said – what a nice guy). Alas, Chapel Hill was never quite the same… but Henry’s (or whatever it was called before that, I’m drawing a blank) quickly became the standard Saturday night hangout for drowning our dissertation sorrows (while trying not to get lung cancer from all the second hand smoke).
    Ah, good times, good times.

  7. xuxE

    i remember i almost had a moment of clarity when i drank something at some mixer called “brain damage” i what the hell WAS that? all i know is it had this little mucous-like ball of kahlua all coagulated and suspended halfway down the glass in a handful of other mystery alcohols and it was NASTY. i could only manage to choke down like 2 or 3.
    i recommend “emergen-C” for the next day post-partying energy boost and recovery phase.

  8. Chris M

    It’s a good thing I’d never heard of mojitos until I was beyond 30. Even in my old age one of my favorite things is to float around the pool with a cold minty one while listening to the ‘Crooklyn’ soundtrack. But I pay for every sip from that straw.

  9. Tanya

    Ian, darling, you are speaking my mind. I find it funny that so many others started like I did – with good ol’ Boone’s Farm (Strawberry Hill even!) and/or a wine cooler as the first alcoholic beverage. My first memory of college debauchery was the DKE party – first day of the fall semester. My roommate and I went – having never tried beer before. We didn’t understand our own allure as impressionable freshmen girls and were surprised that so many cute boys were willing to give us free beer! Heh. I was a Bub’s on Thursday nights kind of gal, and Henderson Street for the weekend. I loved the fact that I could show up there after work (Macaroni Grill) by myself on any given night and be assured that I would run into a posse of friends.
    Nowadays, I avoid getting drunk not only because the hangover reminds me too much of morning sickness, but also because I can’t handle the nausea, headache and fatigue while chasing around a 2.5 year old.
    Those were the days, indeed.

  10. Beth

    My first thought was the same as Scruggs’s: Ah, nostalgia.
    Chris M, what a lovely scene you paint. Makes me want a mojito, too.

  11. mcf

    hey-i was a strawberry hill girl, too, when i was just “startin’ out!”
    this entry brings back lots of fun memories [and… umm… lack of memories.]
    and, i, like the others, am now VERY rarely an even VAGUELY intoxicated person.
    not sure if it is age or parenthood or a fine mix of both. whatever it is, i do miss the spontaneity that defined that time in our lives that you so eloquently refer to, ian.
    by the way, that picture is a riot! the only person i “know” is landgraff… but the HAIR is a HOOT!
    thanks for making me laugh [at myself!] today!

  12. emma

    What amazes me is now that I have kids and rarely drink more than a glass of wine, on a Saturday morning by 11 am, I can have more constructive stuff done than I would during an entire weekend before kids when late nights and lots of drinks were the norm.
    It sure is fun to have those memories to laugh at though. And I have plenty to keep me laughing throughout my old age.

  13. Neva

    Finally, a subject I know something about! Ha.
    The summer of 1990 I stayed in Chapel Hill and my roommate, TAV, and I made it our business to find the cheapest way to drink any given night around town. Monday was Ham’s 50 cent highballs, Tues night of course Blue cup night at He’s Not, Thurs was Troll’s 2.50 pitchers and I know Sunday was the place that became Pantana Bob’s but I can’t remember what it was called then. There were all the others in between as well. I spent my 21st birthday that summer on a tuesday night at He’s Not spilling Blue Cups on unsuspecting souls nearby. Surprisingly, I got up every morning at 6am to work on a research project in the ORs at UNC hospitals, but I was home ready to sleep by the pool by 2pm every day and rest up for the next night. Summer is a fun time to be in Chapel Hill. The crowds are smaller and more intimate. What a blast that was at the time and what a different life I have now. I too have basically given up alcohol because it disrupts my sleep and I don’t need anything disrupting that further, but at least we can relive those fun days in our minds! Thanks for the nostalgia.

  14. Ian

    Cris, I added Club Zen to the blog, because that was what I meant. I LOVED that place in the good-old fashioned Morrissey way.
    Neva, wasn’t Pantana Bob’s called Colonel Chutney’s?
    Man, we sound old. I want the young’uns to know WE STILL ROCK!

  15. Claudia

    I have to say…..I recently imbibed a virgin Pina Colada, and it was so delicious that I was the envy of everyone at the margarita-saturated table.

  16. Andrew

    I recall that Chutney’s had a good Long Island Iced Tea. Then I recall a second Long Island Iced Tea. Then I don’t recall much.
    I remember the same guy coming to my fraternity to talk about alcoholism:
    “O.K., show of hands, how many of you have ever passed out?” All hands raised.
    “Oh. Let’s try another, show of hands, how many of you have ever drank alone?” All hands up.
    “Oh my. How many of you have ever forgotten what happened while you were drinking.” All hands.
    Voice from the back: “Dude, I’ve already forgotten the question.”
    Then the He’s Not chant started.

  17. Neva

    Yes, yes, Chutneys! It was the Sunday night place for some reason but I don’t remember what the drink special was. It does seem like I had a Long Island Ice Tea there once. The Buddy shots were a Spanky’s thing, right? I have a distant blurry memory of those as well..

  18. chaircrusher

    Not a fan of being drunk, but a great fan of alcoholic beverages. I always end up at Gabe’s drinking a couple of Newcastle Brown Ales, or the murderous Rum & Cokes the bartenders mix for people who work sound. Then I pound water the rest of the evening so I’ll blow clean if I get pulled over going home.
    And there’s nothing like an ice cold Weihenstephaner Hefe-Weizen.

  19. Salem

    What, no mention of the bar so “uncool” it was cool. No matter how hard you resisted, every boy found themselves at Spanky’s once in a while, seeking out that Tri-Delt or Pi Phi that didn’t show up to the party.
    Ian, the kamakazi’s were a crowd pleaser, but the Super Soaker Vodka Shotgun was my favorite. I consider it our personal best in the alcohol abuse genre. Prairie Fire (Cuervo/Tobasco Shots) and Jager were late comers in our career, when we wanted our cocktails to slap us around a bit. Oh, the good ol’ days.


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