Saturday, August 6, 2011
This was not always the case.
My first few years of college, at least my fuzzy recollection of them, were spruced with regular weekends (and by "regular" I of course mean "every friggin' weekend without fail") of partying. Actually, "party" in this case is a euphemism for "sitting around someone's living room (or dorm) getting totally sh'faced."
sh'faced /shah-FAYST/, (adj.); 1. From the American Slang term "shit-faced," meaning inebriated beyond what is normally possible in human beings. This is caused by excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, usually in a group environment. Symptoms include the inability to walk straight or speak coherently, a tendency to make embarrassing comments about one's self or others (looking at YOU, Tim Sterling), developing an unexpected sexual attraction to a member of the opposite sex whom you would not normally even look twice at, and of course temporary loss of consciousness. (ex. "You hear about Sterling? Last night at DeNunzio's party he took off his pants, sang Who Let the Dogs Out, and then hit on DeNunzio's golden retriever. I hope I never get THAT sh'faced.")
It's not exactly chess, is what I'm saying.
The best part of the game is when a player makes three shots in a row. At that point, he or she gets to make up a new rule, limited only by one's creativity. These might include:
Any player to touch his face must take a drink, even if it's not his turn.
Players must say the phrase "And awaaaaaay we go!" before taking a drink.
If you don't chug the beer all in one gulp, you have to make an obscene phone call.
I spent a lot of time engaging in this sort of activity, and I learned a lot about myself. For example, I learned that the first part of my particular brain to be affected by alcohol is the part that figures out when you've had too much to drink. I would chug beer after beer, and at no time did any of my synapses shoot off a message like, Whoa there, seems like we're losing control of our large motor function and relying much too heavily on words like "dude" and "bro" when conversing with others. Maybe it's time to slow down a little. No, I would drink myself into oblivion, a quality that earned me the nickname "The Pass-Out Kid," also known as POK, also known as "Paco."
All of which brings us to our public service message, which is as follows: If you're going to be incredibly stupid and irresponsible with your alcohol intake, for God's sake do not get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
Not long after I got my driver's license, my father invited me out to the garage for a heart-to-heart. The gist of it was, "I know you're going to college soon and you'll probably have a few drinks from time to time. When that happens, do NOT try to drive home or get in a car with someone else who's been drinking. Give me a call, no matter how late, and I'll come get you. No lecture, no questions asked."
It sounded like a trap, but as I got older I realized why he offered that type of "immunity." My dad knew that if I was worried about getting in trouble for drinking, I might try to hide it from him. This could lead to driving under the influence and putting my life at risk. It just wasn't worth it.
Despite what you may think, especially after what I've already told you, my friends and I were pretty responsible and knew there were precautions we needed to take to protect ourselves from, well, ourselves. Therefore, we always appointed a designated driver or two. Most times, our system involved a sort of "shuttle service." We attended a very small local college, and all of us still lived at home with our parents. At the end of the night, the designated drivers would load up their cars with "fallen soldiers," take them home, and in most cases help them get to their bedrooms undetected.
Not everyone's father has a "no questions asked" policy.
Anyway, on one particular evening at DeNunzio's, our activities wrapped up around one in the morning. The designated drivers made their rounds, and before long everyone was home safe and sound.
Except of course for Paco who, since he was passed out in a hammock in the back yard, had gone undetected until DeNunzio literally stumbled into him while picking up the empty Budweiser bottles strewn all over the lawn.
"Dude, what are you still doing here?" he asked.
"Everyone left an hour ago, how are you gonna get home now?"
"Dunno. I prob'ly shouldn't drive, though, huh?" I said.
"Uh, no. And I can't take you home either, 'cause I'm still buzzed. Better call someone, dude."
Time to take Dad up on his offer. At two o'clock in the morning. After three attempts and three extremely pissed off wrong-number recipients, I successfully dialed my home phone number. Dad answered on the third ring.
"Hi Pop. 'Member how you said if I was ever drunk and needed a ride you'd come an' ge' me? Well, uh, I think I need that now."
"Sure, where are you?"
"What's the address?"
Dad chuckled softly, and said, "Well, I'm going to need you to get it. It'll make it easier for me to find you."
"Oh, right. Hang on." I got the address from DeNunzio and gave it to my father. He arrived twenty minutes later, poured me into the passenger seat of his car, and took me home. As promised, there was no lecture about the dangers of drinking, no threats of confiscating my car keys, nothing but comfortable silence until we had a brief emergency about a mile from our house.
"Dad, I think I need you to pull over."
Knowing what was coming, he skidded to a stop on the side of the road. I opened the door and leaned out.
I wiped my mouth on the sleeve of my Police t-shirt (Synchronicity tour, 1982), sat up, and fastened my seat belt. We got home a minute or two later, and that was the end of it.
At 6:30 the next morning, I was awakened by a loud knock on my door. In fact, "loud" doesn't really capture it. Given my extremely hungover condition, it sounded like a SWAT team was taking down my bedroom wall with a battering ram.
"Chris, come on! Time to get up! Let's go get your car!" My dad said no lectures, no grounding. This was neither.
A loophole, apparently.
"Go 'way!" I growled from my bed.
"Let's go, don't have all day!" BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG, the knocking continued. I swear I heard giggling.
"Okay, okay!" I said, gathering my faculties to the limited extent possible. "Gimme a minute!"
We drove back to DeNunzio's and got my car.
Dad has always had the knack for handling things in just the right way, and because he gave me a certain amount of freedom as a teenager -- with a safety net -- I was able to learn from my mistakes without getting in any real trouble or putting myself in danger.
Thanks, Pop, I appreciate it.
But watch your back. One of these days, I might come pounding on your door at six in the morning.
On a Sunday.