Friday, November 6, 2009

Excess Tempered by Restraint

The Happy Scarecrow Welcomes Fall

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.

BB the Hippy

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.


Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I love the way you talk about your evening at home. It paints such a pretty picture of family life. You had me smiling all through that. Then, I switched to the "you are a person who shouldn't drink and are going to end up dead" mode of thinking. You know my son can't drink. It isn't that he drank mass quantities (most of the time) but it is the fact that it made him angry and violent. He would punch anyone or anything that "pissed him off". He finally realized that alcohol just wasn't a good thing for him.

I then went back to smiling when I realized how mature your statement was that you could have a good time without being drunk. That is not only great, it is wonderful that you realized it. You sound happy, much more so than when we first crossed paths 3 months ago. That makes me happy.

naturgesetz said...

It is really wonderful that you can enjoy being with other people so much, and that you don't need alcohol to do it.

I've been shy and a little uncomfortable in social settings, so I realize what a good thing it is to be able to be comfortable and thoroughly enjoy those times.

g said...

I, like Sue, love the description of your evening at home. You are blessed with a good family, and you are also a blessing for them - you love them all and you contribute love to the gathering.

I also hope you learn to temper the drinking. I say that as a person who probably drinks too much myself. Think about what you're trying to gain when you drink - and figure out when it's better not to.

of course, that's a lesson I didn't learn until I was WAY older than you, so.....

Carlos said...

What a very nice post. As I get on in years (I'm 47), I have more and more of those kinds of reflective moments. The very poignant ones, as apparently this one was for you, get written down.

These days, aside from time with my kids and family, I find I most appreciate encounters with sincerely kind and friendly people; I just wish the encounters weren't so rare.

Jen said...

I'm glad your friends took care of you and that you have learned you don't need alcohol to have fun.

kj said...

you are wise today, bb...


tattytiara said...

Your roommates rock.

Gauss Jordan said...

We've all been there to varying degrees. I've not yet had that moment, but I'm sure that it'll happen someday.

Re: socializing, I know! I spent years of my life being the quiet guy off to the side; now I'm the one organizing dinners, throwing parties, setting up happy hours, or nights out bar hopping.

Everyone seems to have become more sociable around me; my friends tell me it's because I've become more approachable. I guess you get what you give.

Cheryl said...

It sounds like you have a lot to be grateful for. In my college days I definitely would not have been grateful to spend an evening with my dad. But I would be now, thank goodness.

And the parties, sounds like you learned a lot of important things about yourself and your (true) friends. I'm glad you appreciate this part of life, socializing, it's one of the best things about life, besides food, etc...