Last Friday night I experienced what I would later dub on Twitter, “the world’s safest blackout.” On what was intended to be a low-key, low-dough night with the boys, TJ, Dupa, “Armo”, and I kicked back with a bottle of Belvedere, dinner, and some DVDs. And right about the time that “The Professional” ended, I experienced my preferred means of time travel, jolting awake the next morning. I felt like I hadn’t moved from the exact spot on the couch where I’d been watching the movie. If anything, I’d just sort of fallen over and then gotten right back up, only to now find myself in the Saturday dawn.
No bars full of strangers. No “How did I get there?” No losing my credit card. No losing my driver’s license. No losing my cell phone. No strange numbers on my phone. No drunk dials or texts. Well, no damning ones; I did manage to call TJ’s girlfriend in Tampa and wake her up, though in my defense it was only about 11:30 (that’s right, I was fully blacked out by 11:30—fight me). No unexplainable bodily harm (save for a small cut on my thumb that was more likely the result of fumbling with my zipper in the bathroom than me carrying out and/or thwarting a surprise ninja attack). I had blanked my memory of much of the night, with no possible consequences to bear the next morning. Win.
Things seldom go so well. Rarely is the fan turned off when the shit hits it. I’ve used the metaphor of a snowball in the past to describe professional drinking, especially if said drinking is done in celebration of holidays and special occasions, when it starts early in the day with the intention of rolling on through the night. And that imagery is more than appropriate, because not only does the size of your drunkenness grow exponentially, but so does the speed of this giant snowball of intoxicated idiocy—and your inability to control where it goes.
Several of my blackouts have already become On the Rocks greatness. Stories like my Halloween at Ohio U., Steph’s going away celebration last month, and a Friday night out with the boys two Februaries ago are now familiar seasoning in the l-o-l stew that is my recreational activities. But many more—for one reason or another—have yet to be published. Like last Thanksgiving Eve, when Pakistanimal, his girlfriend [now his fiancée—congrats], and her sister joined Tony and I in a night of Shadyside boozing. After pregaming at my apartment, the five of us were soon slamming Batman shots at Shady Grove, and then I was casually strolling up a street eight city blocks away, alone and dazed. And Tony was standing in front of my apartment building fuming, because three hours earlier I had left him at the bar without a way of getting into my place. That bar, though, would be William Penn Tavern, and my departure was a good hour after my last recollection of anything, when we were still partying like rock stars at Grove. Just like that, a fun night with friends had turned into W-T-F-? Tony said that when I finally ambled up to the building, I slurred something about having been at a party. And now every day I fully expect someone to approach me on the street and say, “Hey, you were that tall random guy at that party last Thanksgiving!”
[Note: Given the fact that my family—and my parents, even—read this blog, it has suddenly dawned on me that I probably should have been masking these stories as something some friend of mine did. “Then my friend…uhh, 'Dave'…got really drunk on Batman shots and…” Oh well.]
Thanksgiving Eves have proven fertile ground for this sort of thing. In 2004, that particular night of the year was, dare I say, epic. Dupa, T.C., and I had hit the South Side to drink and revel. Then, at about 4 a.m. or so, I found myself leaning against a front door, slowly knocking on it. I stopped my fist just before it barreled into my mysterious wooden resting post once more, and stood upright to take in the scene. I was on a porch…that I had never seen before. The house was dark, and to this day I wonder if its owner had been peeking from behind the curtains, terrified. I walked down the steps and out to the street. I was in a suburban area, but it all looked so unfamiliar. I began walking down the street, deciding that the one thing I absolutely needed to do was get away from that house; to hear sirens at any moment would have been “game over”. As I came to the next intersection, it suddenly hit me: I was in T.C.’s neighborhood, and his house was on this street. I had met him and Dupa there at the start of the night. I quickly found my way to T.C.’s, and got myself on a couch to sleep it all away.
Over the next week or so details of the missing hours began surfacing. The last thing I remembered was being at the upstairs bar in Smoking Joe's Saloon. That had been around 11 (fight me twice). After that came stops at a couple of other bars, including Jack’s. There I found myself momentarily separated from my boys as I waited in line for the restroom. Some random jackasses brought static, and fists were soon cutting the smoke-filled air. From across the room, Dupa had quickly spotted me, cornered and surrounded, and charged into the fray with T.C. close behind. According to reports, my boys and I proceeded to bring the ruck, soused though we were, until bouncers could finally break it all up. I was so in the zone, in fact, that when one bouncer first stepped in to intervene, I swung on him. Luckily it was just a grazing shot, because—I’d later learn—he was our friend Jed’s cousin (I ran into him again a few months later and apologized, but he understood; as drunk as I was, I probably couldn’t see, let alone discern between attackers and bouncers). Pakistanimal, who had been out with other people, said he walked up to the door at Jack’s that night, but was told they couldn’t let anyone in until they cleared out a fight that had just taken place. Just then, Dupa, T.C., and I stumbled out the door laughing. “[Pak], what up? We were just in a fight!”
T.C.’s little sister picked us up from the South Side and took us to a party her friends were throwing. After that? Well, after that I played the world’s slowest game of “Ding-Dong-Ditch”. That’s really all any of us know, because by the time the fight ended, all three of us were at some level of blackout. Only Dupa has any memory of the brawl, and not even he remembers the party.
Luckily, blackouts aren’t frequent (not for me, at least). The anxiety that comes with waking up the next morning is enough to make you nauseous, without the aid of the hangover. This is especially true if you wake up on the floor of an unknown bedroom in Ohio (see “Halloween at Ohio U.” above). But even when you find yourself in your own bed—where, you could argue, you should feel the absolute safest in the entire world—the prior night’s mental abandonment can be waiting to pounce. When I blacked out during the first night of my birthday weekend last year, I had been with my boys at Shady Grove. When I woke up the following morning, I was laying in bed next to The Ex. She was sitting up with her back against the headboard, her folded arms looming like storm clouds over my aching head.
Her, through clenched teeth: “So, do you remember last night?”
Me, in my head: “...fuck!”