Friday, November 6, 2009
Excess Tempered by Restraint
I am well rested, well fed, warm, and happy, sitting at my kitchen table on a cold Friday night. Beautiful Cousin is seated to my left, pouring over a Chemistry textbook, and my father is across from me typing something on his lap-top computer. My mother is sitting in the living room, watching television and talking on the phone, while somewhere in the house Thomas and Pie are playing and our two Dachshunds are running around.
Above the rhythmic whir of the dishwasher I can hear faint banging from the second floor, which could realistically be either my youngest siblings or the canines. Millie and Minnie, our six-year and four-month-old dogs, make a habit of toddling around the house after each other on their tiny leg, giving hilarious chase as their tubular bodies wobble from room to room.
I love nights like tonight.
My mother and Pie went out earlier for a movie night sponsored by the school, so my father, Beautiful Cousin, and I ordered Chinese food. Now we’re happily full, sitting here in our sweatshirts under a warm light just inches from the cold air beyond our windows.
I’m glad for the quiet of this weekend; next weekend will be very busy, as was last.
The weekend of Halloween started shamefully for me.
I was invited to Flamer’s apartment, and, despite having sworn him off, I made an appearance so as not to be rude to the mutual friends who were over. Before returning to my dorm for the night I consumed two shots of vodka, a small amount of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, and two tall glasses of jungle juice. By the time Flamer and his friend carried me to my room I was wildly drunk, and when we got to my door I pushed them off and ran for the bathroom, where I spent the next several hours attached to the toilet.
I was in a disgraceful state.
I hurled up pink liquid until there was nothing left to vomit, at which point my roommates forced me to drink water so I wouldn’t throw up my stomach lining.
“BB, you need to drink this or you’re going to have to go to the hospital,” Smart Roommate’s girlfriend said as she brought glass after glass of water to my lips.
I cried as I drank it and then regurgitated the liquid the moment it was in my throat.
“I think we’re going to have to take him to the hospital,” Smart Roommate said in the background.
“No,” I moaned.
It wasn’t that I feared having to see a doctor; it was that the idea of leaving the bathroom made me nauseated throughout.
Meanwhile, Non-Frat Roommate had gotten ahold of my phone and dialed the last-called number, which connected him to Flamer.
“You mother fucker!” Non-Frat Roommate yelled. “You fucking dick! How could you take advantage of him like that!?! If you know he can’t handle it, why would you give him that much!?! You know he can’t drink, so why did you give him that much!?! You never leave someone when they’re like that! What if something really bad had happened to him? If I have to call you again, I’m going to have a cop on the line!”
I was touched by their outrage, and by the tenderness with which they reassured me, tied back my hair, and helped me into bed. I was also determined, however, not to ever put them in that position again.
I woke up the day of Halloween hungry, weak, and about three pounds lighter. To my apologies my roommates simply replied, “We’ve all been there” and further disparaged Flamer.
I felt their reaction to him was a bit overblown; he didn’t tie me down and force me to get drunk, but then again he didn’t hang around when he should have.
Halloween itself was a bit redeeming for me. The very notion of consuming alcohol was repulsive, so I went to Jolly Girl’s Halloween party completely sober and remained so the entire night, not that anyone would have known. For, though not an ounce of alcohol touched my lips, I made on the evening of October 31st a crucial discovery: I am just as crazy, just as wild, just as clumsy and weird and prone to embarrassing gaffes sober as when I’ve been plied with several gallons of rum.
I was supposed to be dressed up as a surfer, but everyone just thought I was a hippy. Two people actually asked me if my hair was a wig.
I had a great time, was cognizant all the while, and suffered no hangover the following day.
By the way, I’m still a bit shocked at how fun it all was. I was lively, I was talkative, I joked, and people responded. I find myself, after years of isolation, in love with socializing. I adore the sensation I get when I’m surrounded by laughing, happy people, the warmth I feel between human beings. It’s so precious and wonderful, and can be enjoyed in so many ways. For every friend I have, every night I hit the town, every dinner I share with a classmate, and every I evening I spend engaged in intimate one-on-one conversations, I am so thankful.
It’s funny that I reflect on this as often as I do, this simple thing that means nothing to most people. It’s those things, though, so basic we don’t even think about, that are most critical to a happy life. The deficit of this quality in my existence for so long has enriched every normal moment of my days, allowing me to draw a deep appreciation from that which others regard as mundane.