When I was younger I had no idea there was such a thing as life before 10 pm. That time was spent in bed, or hovered over a toilet bowl, or occasionally in a lecture hall with a hand shading my sleeping eyes from the professor. Before 10, I would go through the motions of daylight with bags under my eyes, crust around my lips, and vomit stains on my jeans. Once a classmate from high school spotted me ambling around campus and reported to a mutual friend that “he looked like shit.”
At 10 I took everything from the day and threw it far, far away from me; put on a clean shirt, new pants, and escaped to Manhattan. We’d usually buy a 1 liter bottle of Coke, a bottle of Captain, and drink it on the way to wherever. Once I coerced a friend to take a drink every time we turned the car; I have no idea how that dude walked into the club by himself. Once, I called that same friend up at around midnight after playing beer pong for an hour and asked if he wanted to take a 2 hour drive down to Atlantic City to meet up with friends Mark and Erin.
“I’m in bed right now, I wish though.”
“Pussy.” It was the first time I had ever called somebody that. It came out with the intensity of finally saying a curse you had kept for a special occasion.
“Fuck … I’ll be ready in 5 minutes.”
Picked him up, had a bottle of vodka in the car. We drank on the way down and got pretty blitzed. I don’t remember some of the drive, but I do remember blasting music while driving down a one way street the wrong way with my driver’s side door swung open, partly hanging out while partly driving, and yelling song lyrics to nobody. We made it to the Tropicana in one piece.
Once, in a 5 floor bar in Manhattan, after a particularly boring night, Mark took his glass and threw it against the wall. I took mine and dropped it on the floor, knocked over all the glasses on the table as we left. Sometimes we were complete assholes.
During the day, I would sit in class writing down what had happened the night before. It was mostly to piece together fragmented memories into a cohesive story, but I would always forget some kind of something. It wouldn’t be until weeks later when a wild night would come up in conversation and Mark and I would tell each other all the things we didn’t know about the night, all of the terribly drunken things we did to ourselves and other people.
While drunk driving back to an ex-girlfriend’s house, I was pulled over for a busted headlight. The officer immediately knew I had been drinking; either through slurred speech or because of the empty Jose Cuervo bottle in the backseat.
He brought me to an abandoned parking lot, told me to put the bottle in my trunk, and asked me where I was going. Asked me how much I had to drink and I answered with as close an approximation as I could. He followed me to Rochelle Park and let me go without a ticket, “Don’t do it again.”
“Thank you so much offisher” I mumbled out, fumbling to shake his hand. I was an asshole, but lucky.
I have a camping back pack with a bladder for water. I used to fill it up with a bottle of Southern Comfort and half a bottle of lime juice. It tasted like complete shit but did the job for underage concealed drinking at bowling alleys and pool halls. Nobody ever caught on to it: a group of 6 kids getting progressively louder and more disorderly; yelling, screaming, and sometimes throwing up in their parking lots.
Before 10, I was sober. I was a regular 20something doing typical 20something things. After 10 I was Hyde. The measure of my descent into alcoholic insanity was measured by the amount of stains accumulated on my shirt. Measured by the scuffs on my car from backing up into a pole or a cement wall; measured by how often and loud I would cackle.
The 10 pm calling rarely spilled into the daylight, but it happened. On my last day working in a cafe, I brought a bottle of vodka with me and offered free shots with drinks to mall employees. It tasted pretty good mixed in the blender with some of the frozen drinks. Sometimes while working in the catering hall I’d get drunk off the open bar meant for attending parties. There was enough alcohol for all of us, it was fine. I would get cut off by the bartender with about an hour left of the party, but still got the job done. I’d bring a glass of vodka to one of the head chefs and drink a glass of tequila with him in the downstairs kitchen.
Now I work 9-5, Monday thru Friday. On the weekends I take trips to a park, or a mountain trail, or something equally nice and sober. The memories made from alcohol and bad decisions are among the best I have. Don’t have too much money to travel, or to buy fancy things, but alcohol is fairly inexpensive. I don’t drink too much anymore and have found my memories tame. Hyde was pushed aside and locked away. Sometime soon I have to pull him out again, dust him off, and make some new memories with him. Find my edge again. Being a typical 20something by day and night blows; I need to throw some wrenches into this plan.