The answer is keg beer in a red solo cup.
What do you mean, you don’t even know what the question is? To what question would beer in a red solo cup not be the answer? That said, I will supply you with my actual question: what was I drinking the first time I got drunk? This is a question I like to ask people, because it makes for fascinating conversation. Perhaps less for their answer as to what was in their cup as much as to find out why they were drinking it. After all, we’re talking about the first time here. And the first time for anything always reveals something, whether you were aware of it at the time or not.
It was a warm June night, early summer of my 15th year. I was pleased to have snagged a few graduation party invites for that summer of 1980, and on this particular night, I was at the first of those. I was 15, and having arrived by way of my older sister and her friends, unencumbered by any parental supervision. The electricity of infinite possibilities crackled in the air as I talked with friends and we considered the many merits of the promising young males scattered throughout the premises. Beer was flowing, as it had been since long before my arrival, but I didn’t pay it much attention. The availability of alcohol at parties and other events had been increasing with regularity since I’d become a teenager, but besides a sip here and there to show that I wasn’t a “goody two shoes”, I wasn’t interested in drinking. I’d never been to that other side with alcohol and my fear of what I might find there had thus far kept me grounded. Then he showed up. With her. I felt as though the wind had been knocked out of me. As is so often what I feel in moments of extreme reaction: CAN’T. GET. BREATH. He was my former freshman year boyfriend. Senior to my freshman (an age difference which nobody ever let him forget and he subsequently never let me forget) How dare I be so irresistible and shame on me for it! Taker of my virginity. Taker of my self-respect. Oh wait, did I just say that out loud? Okay, strike that from the record. After all, isn’t one of the things that I go on and on about that nobody else can “make” or “take” anything from you? On second thought- leave it. I didn’t know that at 15, so as far as I was concerned he took it. It’s my story and I’ll spin it my way. Anywho… She was one of his senior classmates, a girl who buddied up to me and flirted with him all year long. “I’ve got my own boyfriend. We’re just friends!” she would say to me every time they were seen behaving in an overly friendly manner. But on this night, her boyfriend was apparently long gone, and even though he and I had been broken up for months, the image of the two of them, entering that party with their arms around one another was enough to throw me into a tailspin. Perhaps it’s the empath in me, perhaps it’s an as-of-yet undiagnosed type of mental illness, or just the luck of the draw, but I happen to have the curse gift of a tremendously accurate recall and I remember that moment as if it just happened. And I remember assessing the situation and making a decision: I don’t want to feel this. So just as I had observed countless others do (apparently to feel better, if my interpretations were correct, which I was banking on) I went and filled myself a party cup of beer and I drank it down. Fast. Then I drank another and I think perhaps one or two more. And just like that, I went to the other side.
Now, please don’t think I’m talking about the other side as though it’s the dark side. I’m far too loyal of a person to betray alcohol, who has been my companion through so many of my ups and downs, in that manner. Besides, I think that may be a debate that deserves a post of its own at a later date. But to get back to this particular night, I drank down my beers and found that I had indeed ceased to feel that wind knocked out of me feeling that I’d been challenged by earlier. That feeling had now been replaced by about 30-45 minutes of peaceful hilarity, very quickly followed by what would, all totaled, later amount to about 12 hours of a mixture of the following: double vision, spinning, vomiting, confusion, shakes, and did I mention vomiting? It would also result in my getting grounded for the rest of the summer (goodbye remaining 1980 graduation parties) and losing the trust of my parents for what would amount to a fair measurement of time. Was it worth it? That’s the magic question, isn’t it? Was it worth it? I don’t believe any time I thought I was escaping my pain with alcohol it was ever worth it, nor was it truly effective, and yet, it has been my go-to method so frequently that one would question the validity of my answer. Perhaps unconsciously, I do believe it’s worth it. Perhaps there’s another part of myself that gets its nourishment from the other side and this is the part of self that implores me at times to give into it and allow it into the other side to simply drift unaware in its pocket of nothingness until once limp in its satiety it is finally able to rest.
If you were looking for a lesson to all of this, there’s not one. Well, I mean besides the obvious one that if you’re a drunk 15 year old trying to get into your parent’s house quietly through the mailbox, it probably won’t end well- regardless of how much sense it made to you at the time…
The question is, what has been revealed? During this no-alcohol period that I am currently embarking on, revisiting my old stories turns up a variety of answers, as well as a plethora of new questions. Sometimes it digs up a little pain. But I had made my decision ahead of time: I’m ready to feel this. So I do. And I’m still here.