I used to drink.
I mean, I still drink. But I used to DRINK. For instance, when I went to see a student doctor and filled the questionnaire as to the number of drinks per week I consumed, she erased the number saying, “I cannot go to the review board and tell them that.” She cut it down by a third. The following week, after she had presented my “revised” info to the review board she said they were still shocked by the number. Maybe I shouldn’t be proud of that, but I kinda am.
But this isn’t about regular drinking. This is about tequila, and my apparent inability to realize it is not my friend. My freshman year of college was when I first really started in on tequila. Now mind you, I had spent a year living in Europe before I started college, so I had a leg up on drinking. One night, my dorm hall decided it was time for a celebration, I can’t remember why, but if I had to guess, it was probably to celebrate the end of day that ended with “y.” (We weren’t real particular when it came to finding reasons to drink.) A pal and myself discovered a tequila called “Dos Gusanos” which was Spanish for “Two Worms.” This was spectacular, we thought, there’s two worms, there’s two of us! What escaped us, was that between us and the two worms lay a fifth of cheap, cheap tequila. But we weren’t so easily deterred, and we powered through it. At some point that night, I tried a flying tackle on someone, I have no idea whom. I missed. Well, I missed the person I was trying to tackle. I made contact with the iron radiator behind him and split my head wide open. Wide open. I remember almost none of this. I was told the next day that I fought off and threatened anyone who had the audacity to suggest a trip to the hospital. I awoke the next day with dozens of paper towels taped to my head, so I let someone do “first aid” at least.
A couple of years later, the tequila monster struck again. I have no recollection of why. I remember, well, remember is a strong word, but I am pretty sure that I split a half gallon with 2 other guys. Let me do the math for you, that’s a shit-ton of tequila, particularly as I weighed about 150 pounds at the time. After downing the entire bottle – in shot form, mind you – it was decided that heading out to a party was the best course of action. It wasn’t. No sooner did we get there than the 2 guys I was drinking with got into a knock-down drag-out fight, with each other. I wandered off by myself and headed for the party. The fact that I didn’t know where it was exactly, or even whose it was, mattered not. What did matter, though, was my big, fat, tequila soaked mouth and what it said to the two guys I passed along the way. While I technically have no idea what that might have been, I don’t think it was particularly nice. I know this because they spent some time beating my ass. (Apparently, the, uh, vitriolic nature of tequila doesn’t not jibe well with my personality. Go figure.) The next thing I remember was being prodded awake by a woman I didn’t know, asking me if I was okay. Naturally, I responded “yes” and we made our way to the party.
Now, because I am not a complete moron, I decided the following day that tequila shots were not my best option.
But surely margaritas would be fine, right?
She was the assistant manager at the night club I worked at, and she easily makes my Top Ten list for all time, drinkingest sons-a-bitches I’ve ever met. It was quite common for us to go to her apartment after work (usually 2 or 3 in the morning) and do some quality drinking. This night, she started in with the margaritas. Which was fine, right? ‘Cause it wasn’t tequila shots. So what could possibly go wrong?
We got bored after a bit, and God only knows how many margaritas – a lot, that much will be clear in a moment. “Let’s go for a walk,” she said. Several blocks from her apartment stood a water tower, guarded only by a low chain link fence. It was one of the older style water towers, and as such it looked simply like a giant golf ball sitting atop a tee. The ladder to the top started at the base of that center column. That wasn’t so bad. Now picture what must happen to the ladder when it reaches the bottom of the water tower basin. That’s right, it bends backwards. So now, my drunk ass is hanging from a ladder some 60 feet in the air with my assistant manager ahead of me, spurring me on. (I guess she was an effective leader?) The ladder only went halfway up the bulb of the tower and stopped. If you wanted to get to the top of the tower (and hey, you’ve already come this far, dumbass), you had to make your way to the other ladder on the complete opposite side. My “friend” was already well on her way. To get to this other ladder, I stepped off the first ladder onto a metal rail that ran around the circumference of the bulb. There was no upper rail to hold onto, no hand holds on the side of the tower. Nothing. The only option was put my back against the tower, pressing as hard as I dared, and shuffle-step my way all the way around. But at least it was dark and I was drunk. I made it, eventually. I climbed the remaining ladder to the very top, where my boss awaited. I had never been so happy to be a 120 feet up on a sloping steel bulb.
It was here that, for better or worse, I began to sober up. I have no idea how long we were up there, but when it was time to make the descent, it was still dark and I was disappointingly sober. Sobriety brought a fear I didn’t need. Somehow, some very time consuming how, I made it to the ground safely.
And finally, fucking finally, I learned that tequila is a spirit best left to others.