Long ago when I was young, when families dined out or had guests over, it was considered appropriate for younger girls and boys to drink non-alcoholic versions of adult drinks so that they could fit in.
These would be made in real cocktail glasses, with a maraschino cherry or a twist of lime or lemon–so that they would look real.
Older children–older preteens and young teens–were pressured to drink real cocktails. I remember feeling very embarrassed by the adults teasing me ungently about how I didn’t like the taste of alcohol. I was considered immature.
By age thirteen, high school, I had finally learned to sip at anything with Creme de Menthe, and at Tom and John Collinses.
When I was fourteen, my parents decided to farm us kids out to neighbors while they went to Guatemala for two weeks. The minute we heard, we gathered secretly together in a mutual spirit of cooperation rarely seen since we had long ago gathered to plan the murder of our mother.
“Okay, here’s how we’ll do it: We’ll each take turns getting the house. No big parties, no big messes.”
On the days I held possession, my friend Vicky and I sampled everything in the liquor cabinet. We thought if we did it evenly across all bottles, no one would notice.
Typical of me, I spilled Creme de Menthe on a nightgown on one of these days, and, also typical of me, carelessly tossed the gown in the clothes hamper.
Where my mother discovered it, still reeking of minty alcohol, upon returning from Guatemala. Oops!
My first college year, my roommate Beryl and I would start out every Friday by jointly downing a half-gallon bottle of Rhine wine. Then we went looking for a party, where we’d suck back as many free mixed drinks as we could get the guys to push on us.
That’s what college weekends were supposed to be: FUN!!
(We were lucky nothing worse happened than aggressive jerkwads being aggressive jerkwads.)
My second semester, I transferred to another school where waterfalls cascaded down the stairwells every weekend night, caused by the massive drunken waterfights at the all-night parties.
I continued my harmless practice of sucking back countless mixed drinks of all varieties with no ill effects. Hangovers? What were they? I had no idea. I’d awaken the same as if I’d had a full night’s sleep.
One night, I’d been inhaling screwdrivers. Someone asked me if I’d ever had a rum and coke. As soon as I tasted that delicious rum sweetness, I was hooked, and immediately switched allegiance. Down went a total of what I recall as four rum and cokes.
The next thing I knew, it was not-quite-morning and I was in my bed.
I was feeling the way a person would who had projectile-vomited all over her friend’s bathroom the night before and now realized she would have to clean it. After it had dried on.
My stomach gave another heave at the thought.
Delicately, I slid myself over the side of the bed. Gingerly, I raised my body from the horizontal.
I skied my sock-shod feet gently to my pal Buddy’s bathroom. When I had experimentally lifted foot from floor, I’d found that the rules of gravity were no longer in effect. My socks and the floor, however, were apparently magnetic.
Shading my eyes in self-preservation, I turned on the light.
Oh, I most sincerely hope that none of you ever have to behold the horror:
Twin toilets, twin sinks. Both soiled, sullied, and woefully besmirched by my most unprecious bodily fluids.
My eyes are actually tearing as I type this.
One and a half hours later, I stood up, the hellish job complete. I was proud I had managed not to vomit again.
However, by now, my first hangover ever was in full flower. I could no longer raise my head completely, nor entirely open my eyes.
I had to feel my way along the walls and furniture and count doorframes in order to find my way back to my own bed and to the sweet, sweet release of sleep.
“Babe! Babe! Wake up!” Somebody was shaking me violently.
“Whuh? Wha’ d’you wan’?”
“Babe! You’ve got to wake up!”
It was my good friend Buddy. He was the one who had gotten me into my bed the night before.
“You were sick in our bathroom last night, Babe!”
“Oh. That. I know. A’ready cleaned it.”
“Babe. I don’t know how to tell you this.
I don’t know whose bathroom you cleaned, but it wasn’t ours.”
Please. Let us pause for a moment of sympathy for the me back then who had to get out of bed again, now with full-blown hangover, and clean that second bathroom.
This time, trying not to ups while thinking of the someone else’s gacksplat she had spent an hour and a half touching without gloves earlier that night.
It did take one more pukefest and hangover (a story that would only be funny if video existed), plus my first and last alcoholic blackout (very scary–I may have had sex with someone I had zero attraction to) to get me to see the light.
From that point on, I stuck to a one drink maximum. It helped to know that having an alcoholic mother and brother combined with my special luck would make bucking the odds unlikely.
Today, my kidneys do their part in encouraging a half-glass maximum.
They’re only looking out for my best interests, the dears.
Oh, I am hopeless. Here’s the second hangover story:
I’m working in a bar as a short-order cook. After work, hanging out with some roofers I sorta’ know–great guys–who’ve been coming in for a while. They find out I’ve never tasted a White Russian. They order me one. I’ve never tasted a Tootsie Roll. … A Pink Lady… A total of six different mixed drinks. Bike home. Walk through the front door, say to my bud K.
“I had SUCH a great time after work today, hangin’ out with the NICEST guys!”
She tells me I then fell right on my face, straight-bodied, as does a tree in the forest.
I awaken at 3AM, panicked, tangled in a bedsheet, with something alien on my head. I reach up, and feel…rubber bands! Little rubber bands all over my head, everywhere!
I have long hair to mid-back at the time. Someone has taken separate strands of hair and tiny rubber bands and for some reason combined them into this… I look like the Flying Spaghetti Monster after a perm! What the feck?
Many hours later, when I was lucid and less hungover, and K. was awake, she explained that while I was barfing my guts out, and she was holding my head up out of the puke pail, she needed both hands for that. But my hair was falling into my barf. K. grabbed whatever was to hand to tie bits of my hair out of the way as well as she could manage while balancing my big barfing melon. (Thank you, K!)