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 Chaser™ 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!