When was the last time you got so drunk you vomited? For me, about three weeks ago. Relax, I'm not even 40 yet, I still have decades of irresponsibility to burn through before I settle in and start making wise decisions.
That said, I'm not that great of a drinker, which is why, until a few weeks ago, I spent two years mostly avoiding it. Don't worry, I've stopped again, for more reasons than I can even count. It's been a weird few weeks. Sorry, just about everyone I know.
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Here, have a cat.
To that end, I decided to put together a handy document that I can reference whenever the urge to down an entire fifth of vodka in eight hours or less might arise again. It's a brief retelling of some of the unpleasant situations I've found myself in over the years thanks to drinking. To make it even more permanent, I talked about the exact same thing on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
So here's a funny story. It was the night before my dad's funeral, I was 17 years old, and dammit, it seemed like the right time to start drinking (well, drinking again; more on that later). So that's what I decided to do. This would, literally, mark the second time I'd ever consumed alcohol in my entire life. I was living with a cousin at the time. We opted for vodka and orange juice. Like I said, power drinking was mostly a foreign concept to me at this point.
Power drink we did, though. Oh! I also smoked weed for the first time that night. It was a bit much, I admit. I realized that myself sometime around 2 am when, after having spilled an orange grove's worth of screwdrivers back into the toilet where they should have been all along, I fell asleep, right there on the floor, in front of the toilet.
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Like this, except on the floor. Otherwise completely the same.
Honestly, the story is dark enough already, right? You caught the funeral part, I'm assuming. Well, don't worry, it's not all sad. There's also a healthy amount of terror, too!
See, the cousin I was living with had a snake. A pet snake. A python. It was fucking gigantic and, for reasons I'll never understand, he just let that motherfucker roam around the house freely. I remember being in the bathroom once, getting things done, if you know what I mean, when my cousin pounds on the door and says, "Dude, the snake is in there, be careful."
Wait, what? I didn't see a snake. The bathroom wasn't that big -- if there was a snake somewhere on the floor ... and that's when I thought to look up. What did I see? Approximately eight feet of deadly reptile, precariously balancing on the shower rod and shower head, almost certainly debating whether or not choking me out right there on the shitter was a feasible lunch strategy.
Until all that remains is my tail.
So, let's go back to me drinking vodka until I passed out in front of my cousin's toilet. When I woke up, I immediately realized I had a problem. The watch on my left hand, which was practically in my face when I opened my eyes, revealed the time to be 10:43 am. My father's funeral was at 11 am. This gave me approximately 17 minutes to gussy up and get to the saddest day of my life. Exactly the kind of thing you want to be in a rush to get to.
It wasn't until I turned my head to the right, though, that I realized I had a way bigger problem. Sitting approximately three feet from my face, likely having the same thoughts as when we met before, except this time about a booze-filled brunch, was that fucking python.
"Where else would I be, the jungle?"
I'm afraid the rest of the story is kind of anticlimactic. There isn't a whole lot else you can do in that situation except stand up and hope you're able to out-leap a snake's desire to kill you. So, I did that and, as you can tell, I didn't die.
In case you're wondering, I made it to the funeral with seconds to spare!
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So, remember how I mentioned that the previous story was my second experience with alcohol? Let's talk about the first.
There's something to be said for being the cool parent, and that something is: don't be. Kids don't need that shit.
I had a firsthand run-in with a "cool mom" at the age of 14. Let's call her Jenny, because she wouldn't want me to use her real name (Penny), but Jenny rhymes with it fairly well. It's more for my benefit than anything.
So! One day, Penny gathers up me and two friends, one of them being her son. Despite none of us having ever inquired about such a thing, she told us that, if we were going drink, she'd rather we do it at her place instead of going out and getting in trouble. With that, she produced six bottles of malt liquor, two for each of us.
OK, for starters, nowhere is "safe" if there are six bottles of malt liquor around.
You aren't even allowed to take a picture of six bottles at the same time.
Two ... lady, you just invited the trouble to your house.
Here's the thing: I really like the way alcohol makes me feel, so much so that, once I start drinking, I do not want to stop. It's been that way for as long as I've enjoyed alcohol, including on this, my first night of drinking, ever.
My friends, however, did not display the same determination. That's great! More booze for me. So, my very first time drinking, I ended up downing approximately three and a half 40-ounce bottles of Olde English 800. Don't let the "e" at the end of the first word fool you -- this is not a fancy drink. This is a hobo drink.
Party at rock bottom tonight!
I'm still not convinced Penny wasn't just outright trying to kill us. Even if she wasn't, she would want to eventually.
Here's what kind of trouble Penny could have avoided if she didn't willingly let a 14-year-old try his hand at getting alcohol poisoning in her home:
- An 11-inch hole in the wall in the upstairs hallway, which happened through no other magic than me drunkenly falling over, shoulder first, into the wall.
- Having to explain to an employee of the Pepsi bottling plant next door why someone just very clearly ran out of her home, grabbed a case of Pepsi off an open truck, and ran back inside.
- Vomit. So much vomit.
So much vomit, in fact, that I ended up being stripped down and tossed in a bathtub to sober up. Someone gave me a dry turkey sandwich on Wonder Bread. Possibly one of my two or three least favorite meals in existence. I just dropped it in the water.
It didn't even have lettuce on it.
It was at that point that the lecturing started, mostly from Penny herself. She even threatened to call my mom.
Right, call my mom and tell her you got her 14-year-old son drunk and now have him naked in a bathtub. Just call the police directly if you want to go to jail so much.
I don't remember much after that. I think I fell asleep in the bathtub. Don't get your kids drunk, America.
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Have I ever mentioned that, in my honest opinion, I sometimes make questionable choices? It's true. Here's a good example -- the first time I ever took Ambien was while driving alone from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Minneapolis, Minnesota. That's a sleep medication, ladies and gentlemen, and it's a pretty damn powerful one. The part about taking it while driving is bad enough, but you really can't fathom how terrible of a decision it really was if you aren't familiar with the landscape in that particular stretch of the country. Basically, it's just this ...
So pretty. For the first three minutes.
... for fucking miles. There aren't even any trees. It's just vast, flat nothing, and somehow these were the conditions under which I decided I should try Ambien for the first time. Shockingly, I didn't die. I barely even slept! When I arrived at the hotel, I took this as a clear sign that I should take another Ambien, so I did.
I was in town to meet up with a friend to go see a Bruce Springsteen concert. When my friend arrived, I told him about my adventures with Ambien. He said he wanted one. I decided I did also. If you're keeping score at home, that's three Ambien in my system. Really, can you think of better conditions under which to experience live music?
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Still better than an outdoor music festival.
Sure you can! What if you took three Ambien and then drank a bunch of whiskey? That was my plan once we arrived at the venue (we walked). Straight whiskey, at that. See, I'd been taking a drug called Topamax to help curb my drinking. It kind of helped in that it made anything carbonated taste like dirt water, which removes almost all of my favorite mixers from the equation, but I just overcame it by drinking hard alcohol straight. I don't think that's what the directions say you're supposed to do.
Between arriving at the venue and finally taking our seats, I'd guess I drank maybe four to six shots of Windsor Canadian, one of the foulest whiskeys known to man. I'd been really excited to see this show. I'm a huge Springsteen fan, and he was touring around an album called Magic, which is one my favorites.
I was so looking forward to hearing those songs played live, and as soon as the band took the stage, I so knew that wasn't going to happen.
At first, I thought everyone was just walking on in pairs, but no, it wasn't that at all. There were two bands. Not two different bands, just the same band, twice. E Street Band all over the fucking place. I was already in the throes of double vision, and they hadn't played a single note yet. I assumed things were only going to get worse from there, and I was right.
I remember on at least two separate occasions being elbowed by the person in the seat next to me so he could tell me I was snoring. I'd been looking forward to that show for months, and I didn't see a single fucking bit of it. On the bright side, my friend missed most of it also, for the same reason. As I've said time and again, I certainly don't want people enjoying shit that I don't get to enjoy.
Oh, hey, speaking of things no one should ever enjoy ...
Huh? Does that sound like a great combination or what?!?! Tanqueray, one of the finest gins known to man, and Hi-C Ecto Cooler, which is basically the color green melted down into a moderately palatable syrup. How the latter of those two outlasted the window of time in which Ghostbusters branding made sense is way beyond me.
The last time I saw a bottle of it was in 1996. It had just kind of been in my refrigerator for weeks. I had no idea who put it there, but I definitely understood why no one wanted to drink it.
Still, I was super poor at the time, so my options were limited. That's what made it noteworthy that a nearly full bottle of Tanqueray gin was also present.
"To an alcohol budget that's way beyond our means!"
There were a lot of questions in that refrigerator that night, but whether I was going to try mixing that disgusting ghost juice with that also disgusting top-shelf gin (I'm a vodka man) was not one of them. Of course I was going to try it. I was alone! What else are you supposed to do when you're alone?
The taste was atrocious, to the point that I wasn't even sure I was going to be able to finish the first five or six drinks I mixed. I powered through the disgust, though, and eventually reached that alcoholism sweet spot where you could be drinking turpentine and wouldn't give a shit about the taste as long as you were still getting hammered.
The blue kind pairs really well with an impending court case.
As I'd come to find out, that's an unfortunate spot to be in when you're mixing gin with liquid movie memorabilia.
I made it through the night just fine, falling asleep rather comfortably sometime around 4 am. What I've failed to mention up to this point, though, is that I had to work at 8 am. Relax, I worked at McDonald's at the time. That is the definition of a zero responsibility job.
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I was a manager.
I knew what needed to be done almost as soon as I arrived, but safely unloading the contents of your stomach in the confines of a fast-food bathroom is a logistical impossibility, so I just looked for anything that wasn't a grill. What I came up with was a dish sink. Before you lose too much of your lunch over someone vomiting in the dish sink of a restaurant, please remember this "restaurant" was McDonald's. They barely have dishes.
This is all the dish you need.
My main concern as it was all happening was whether that dish sink was even connected to a water source. Clean up was definitely going to be a problem if not, because, people, I fucking went for it. I felt like I was throwing up for everyone who's ever eaten at McDonald's. It was like a flood. But made of puke.
Naturally, no one wants the employee who's throwing up to stick around, so I was excused for the day with wishes that I recover quickly from whatever was ailing me.
Recover I did! That's the thing about throwing up when you're drunk. It's exactly what your body wants you to do, and it will reward you accordingly if you comply. I wasn't even halfway to my car before I realized that, for the most part, I now felt pretty damn fine.
I celebrated by eating lunch at Arby's. Fuck you, that was a great decision.
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Yeah, so about the incident from a few weeks ago that I mentioned in the intro to this column. I'm not going to tell you a whole lot about it. Here's what you really need to know. I was sad. How sad? Drunk at 10:30 am on a Saturday sad, if that answers any questions for you.
Now, obviously, that's the kind of show you want to take on the road, so instead of sitting at home and wallowing, I ill-advisedly made a trip to the Third Street Promenade. It's where all the tourists in Santa Monica go to shop and get molested by street performers.
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I tip in blank stares only.
Great place to be stumbling around on the verge of a blackout.
To my credit, I realized that was exactly what I was doing, so I decided to make a change. I just sat the fuck down, right there on the Third Street Promenade. For some reason, I decided to snap a few pictures from my vantage point.
Then I threw up. A lot. On a major tourist attraction. Before noon. Sensing the need to get the fuck out of there was afoot, I pulled out my phone to try and round up a car ride home. Before I could even remember what the Uber app's icon looks like, there was a hand on my shoulder.
"Having a rough day, buddy?" I identified that sentence immediately as some shit the police would say. Sure enough, right there, standing above me, a representative from the Santa Monica police department.
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"Well, I guess I'm having a rough day now."
If I was as famous as Josh Brolin, I would have been arrested immediately, but hauling Internet writers to jail doesn't sell newspapers (nothing does), so instead of the hassle and paperwork, I was just escorted to a nearby cab stand.
The fun wasn't over, though! As I approached the first cab in the line, I somehow had the presence of mind to ask if this cab accepted debit cards. He said he did not. I thanked him for his time and started to look for another cab.
"Get in that fucking car right now!" Also some shit the police would say, I surmised. So, without much choice, I got in the back of a cab that I wasn't really sure I was going to be able to pay for. I had six dollars in cash in my pocket. Mind you, I did have plenty of means to pay for things, just not in cash, because I'm not a fucking weirdo. Who carries cash? That's like carrying a wad of used tissues in your pocket. Fucking gross.
This might as well be a stack of urinals.
Anyway, I don't live far from the Promenade, so I figured it would be fine. It wasn't. Total fare? Seven dollars. I was one dollar short, and if you think that doesn't matter to a cab driver, congratulations on never having had to take a single cab in your entire life.
He was irate. I blamed the police, just like I do for everything. Words were exchanged. At one point I remember storming inside to round up laundry change to throw at him as payment, just like in the movies, but when I went back outside, he was gone. I threw the quarters anyway.
It was right around that time that I realized, hey, I should probably quit drinking again. And so I did. Like two weeks later. Sorry again, everybody.
You probably really want to be Adam's friend after reading all of this. Go do it on Twitter @adamtodbrown.
For more from Adam, check out 4 Unexpected Things I Learned Smoking Crack Cocaine and 5 Beloved Restaurants That Are Seriously Overrated.