Flash non-fiction (?): Adventures in being drunk
Posted: Posted November 20th, 2019 by Cetasaurus
Writing about drinking in an effort to stay sober. 😎Foolproof, right?
Literally have no clue whether or not these are worth a read.
Always open to criticism (tell me it's too pretentious).
If I were to tell you it was never my intention to end up alone and passed out over the top of a wiry table outside the gas station, it would be at least half a lie. I usually mean to pass out alone somewhere. That’s the goal to which I’ll never admit when I head into the night. Next time it will be in a pile of leaves outside my Dungeon Master’s girlfriend’s house. But tonight, it’s a little outside the city.
I know my party is not going to find me, and that’s just as well. I’m running from them, which isn’t to say we aren’t fond of each other. Lately I’ve been overwhelmed by the noise. If my absence is noted, it won’t be pursued.
I’m roused by a woman I’ve never met. She’s asking me if I’m ok. I’ve been her a few times before, reaching out to strangers vomiting into tree-wells in my hometown. This is my first time receiving the gesture. The last time someone found me, passed out in a dark stairwell, they’d tried to take off my pants.
I look her in the eye and tell her I’m ok, and thank you so much. She asks for additional reassurance, and I stand up to prove to us both that I can. “My friends are at that house over there,” I say, and point to a picket fence I’ve never seen before in my life, just to make her think I wasn’t careless enough to wind up this alone, this intoxicated.
I couldn’t tell you how long I’d been face-down. I couldn’t tell you what other sorts of people had seen me that way. “I just needed some air.”
I part with additional thanks and do my best to walk a straight line to the strangers’ house, maintaining the lie. She has started her minivan and is driving out of the parking lot. We never learned each other's names. She doesn’t know she’s applied a patch to my splintering faith that humans can do right by each other.
My DM’s girlfriend was turning 25. Costumes were required at the party. I vaguely knew most of the people in the room, but the disguises didn’t help. I’m not sure how many shots I ended up doing. My friends are always amused by my doing shots, probably because they still see me as a child, or at least as naive as one. I like to amuse them, and I like to do shots.
It was hot and crowded in the house, so I slunk into the backyard to breathe. Colorful fall foliage had fallen into little piles on the grass. My head was starting to spin, so I laid myself down.
I wandered back into the house some time later, greeted by exclamations of, “Where have you been?” and “Why are you covered in leaves?” I looked down and noticed my fleecy costume had pulled in dirty, decomposing organic matter like a magnet.
“I, uhh–” I had to think fast, not wanting to admit I’d been sleeping in a pile of leaves, “–was sleeping in a pile of leaves.” The perfect cover story.
The next time I saw my DM, he told us, “Sorry; I’m a bit sweaty. I’ve been raking leaves all afternoon.”
“Wade!” I said plaintively. “Those leaves were my home!” The group collectively chuckled. I briefly felt better about myself.
December was mild compared to the record-breaking freeze of the year before. “Snowpocalypse,” the locals had called it. This year was just your standard winter: frigid and unamazing. I’d been out with friends, and the bars were now closed. Folks were driving home. I didn’t bother to tell them I was shitfaced. “My car is over this way,” I said, pointing in the direction opposite from where they were heading. My breath formed little frosty puffs of air. I planned to walk home by myself.
I made it a few blocks through the city before I really had to pee, and then I slunk into the alleyways in search of a building that wouldn’t mind the desecration. Sheltered between dumpsters, I undid my pants and pissed onto the concrete. Steam rose from the frost-coated ground.
Once I’d finished, I stumbled back out into the dim yellow shine of an alley light and saw a shadow, crone-like, floating toward me. It eventually moved into the radial glow and – holy shit – it was the person I knew best. I called his name with the exuberance I can never manage sober and charged him with a reckless hug.
He was shaking as I pulled him close, which was to be expected. He lived transiently between the streets and his mother’s apartment. His head nested against my shoulder, and I immediately began to plead with him, “Come home with me.”
With some persuasion, he agreed to walk me back and spend the night. Perhaps he had my safety in mind. We didn’t get halfway before I had to pee again. “The bathrooms at Veterans’ Memorial Park are always unlocked,” he told me in a small voice. Of course he knew.
Not a year later, after he’d shot himself, I found myself walking the same route home, drunk in the dark again. “Look at that,” I told his ghost. The bathrooms were locked up with a brand-new sign that read, “Restroom Closed: Mid-October to Mid-April.”
I went back the next day with my locksmith’s hand-drill and, should I fail in finesse, a hammer.
If you ever want to drink at work, I’d recommend white wine in an opaque travel mug. The scent doesn’t linger too strongly on your breath, and the color doesn’t stain. Empirical evidence suggests that your coworkers and supervisors alike will fill in the gaps of their awareness using preconceived schemas: there is coffee in your coffee mug. Naturally. Who said a bachelor’s in psychology wouldn’t come in handy?
I did this for the first time the same day that I broke the dress-code outlined in the employee’s handbook, which I’d been forced to sign in a very official manner. I dressed as comfy as I pleased and put on a hat that said “Fuck the law” (in teeny-tiny font; I’m not actually that bold).
As our party arrived at the DM’s house, he told us to pass around a sheet of paper. It contained an itemized list of all the sessions our campaign had held so far. “Mark which ones you were at,” he said, “So that I know how much XP to give you.”
He looked my way, “I think you’re the only one that’s been to all of them.”
The list came around to me. “I don’t remember this one,” I said. “Session #5, where ‘Spiders Trap You in Cocoons’?”
“That was the one we played at your house,” the DM replied.
“Oh, right,” I said, realizing it was also the one I had blacked out.
Wade has been open with us about his anxiety disorder; one day, he invited our D&D group to a social obligation that I imagined he was nervous to attend by himself. When no one else in the group replied, I volunteered to meet him at the brewery where the event would take place. I parked my car and drank no small amount of bourbon from a flask, then walked into the establishment and ordered the sweetest-sounding cider on the menu. I finished it before Wade arrived. He offered to buy me another.
After he’d made his polite appearance at the gathering, he and I stepped outside to have our drinks in relative silence. “There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you,” I said. “How do you know who Jordan Peterson is?” The rest of the D&D party was markedly oblivious to politics, so I’d been surprised when he’d recognized the name a few months ago.
He looked at me, a little puzzled. “How did you know I know who Jordan Peterson is?”
I pulled our past exchange out of my autistic’s archive of a memory.
Our drinks were gone. Wade was ready to go home. “Can we talk on the way to our cars?” he asked.
“I can’t drive,” I explained. “I’m plastered.”
“Jesus Murphy,” he said. He’d picked up the phrase recently. “I can literally never tell with you.”
He drove me to his house, where we continued our conversation out on the patio. It felt like Wade was making a point to always put a beer in my hand. He explained that he had listened to Jordan Peterson as a guest speaker on some podcast, and was a fan of what he had to say.
I prepared myself to explain why Jordan Peterson was stupid in excruciating detail. And then I blacked out. I know the conversation lasted a number of hours and spanned from postmodernism to communism, and that at one point I tried to say “dialectical materialism” while my words slurred all over the place. I couldn't tell you what I said about Peterson.
I guess that, eventually, we went inside, and I passed out on his couch. I woke up with regret, hoping I had not played the role of sanctimonious proselytizer throughout my drunken and surely-incoherent ramblings.
Wade would later tell me, “I really enjoyed our conversation.”
“Yeah! Honestly one of the best I’ve had in a long time. We should do it again sometime.”
I paused for a second as I reflected on the events of last night. “Ok.”
I remember going to a karaoke bar and drinking as much as I could while my friends sang trendy songs. They put a bit of effort into pressuring me to sing “whatever music is your favorite,” but I didn’t really want them to know that I regularly screamed along to incomprehensible lyrics in the solitude of my car. I had my reputation as the group’s mouse to maintain.
I managed to avoid the mic all night. Erin drove us to her house when we were finished, and offered me a blanket as I curled up on the couch. At some point in the night, I woke up and knew I was about to barf everywhere. I made it to the bathroom in time, where, after puking out my guts, I fell asleep on a bathmat. I woke up again, still before daybreak, barfed some more, and made my way back to the couch.
In the morning, as we all came-to, Erin reminisced in a bemused tone about how I had drunkenly gone into their room and gotten into their bed.
I had that thought black-out drunks sometimes have, “Did I really?” because I had no memory of the event, and had previously been convinced I remembered the entire night.
“I must have been way drunker than I thought,” Wade chimed in, before I could say anything. “I don’t remember that at all.”
Now I was 99% sure that it didn’t happen. But Erin had been gracious enough to let me puke in her toilet all night, and there was still that 1% of doubt, so I didn’t argue. “Sorry,” I said bashfully, and left with my tail between my legs.
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