There was a bit of an incident the other night1 at the baseball stadium. Nothing big, I just poured the wrong beer. This happens all the time, and we usually stick it in a cooler and pull it out when a different customer asks for what was mispoured. But this time the mispour came pretty close to the end of the night. Last call came and we had this perfectly good beer on our hands.
The person in charge of my stand looked at me and said ‘finish your work and then take the beer with you’.
There are two things to consider here.
The first is that America seems to have come a long way from the days of the old joke ‘How is American beer like sex in a canoe2?’ American beers are going more and more towards a notion of ‘craft’, which largely means making them less refreshing in exchange for making them more ‘hoppier’ (an adjective for which I have absolutely no use short of my getting a pet rabbit). These beers are often referred to by an acronym and feature an alcohol content that rivals wine. Despite these things tasting like something that should be attached to a Saint Bernard dashing through the mountains, they are also sold in summer.
The second thing to consider is that I was on an empty stomach.
So I finish my work and pretty much drink all 32 ounces of my beer as quickly as I could. I mean, it was a cup of beer. I couldn’t exactly take the open container with me in my car, right?
Some of you are guessing where this is going.
I managed to make it to my car without a problem, but that’s when it really dawned on me what I did. The minute I pulled out of that parking lot I realized that I was feeling that beer a little bit. By my first traffic light, I was feeling the beer. By about a quarter of the way home, I realized that I was now in a race against the drunk.
Thankfully, I didn’t have a long way to go, and I don’t actually care for my only well-being enough to have pulled over and called an uber.
No, I never did say that I was a good person.
I managed to get myself home and parked without a problem, but by the time I was there I was well and truly shit faced. I stumbled out of the car and thought to myself to what extent I really shouldn’t be operating a vehicle right now.
But this wasn’t my only ‘race against the drunk’. The previous one was much worse.
Years ago I was living in Rome and was freshly out of college. It was 2009 and the economy had just tanked, which made my job prospects a lot worse. But Rome felt like all I knew and was also the first place I ever felt kind of happy living in, so I decided to rough it there.
And rough it I did. I ended up living in a homeless shelter for a bit. When I finally did manage a job (ESL, the last refuge of the Anglophone and desperate), all I could do was save up money to be able to afford an apartment. When I finally got to that point, a very dear friend of mine (who was as broke as I was) though that we should go out and celebrate.
The initial plan was never to get drunk, it was just to have ourselves a drink and spend those few bucks we had. We walked to a pub at random and asked what things cost. We established that we could get a beer each and have a bit left over.
We were only about half way through our beers when we realized that with our left overs we could each have two shots of Sambuca. We did our shots, chased it with our beer, and walked out of the bar into the warm summer air. We were feeling a little buzzed when we got out of the bar, and we were pretty grateful for it. But we were having a lot of fun just strolling around and talking, so we continued to do that.
This was a college friend of mine and I knew what he could handle in the best of situations. The man could drink, and frankly so could I. But inexplicably, we kept on getting drunker and drunker. At first it was funny, and we were enjoying how drunk we were on the cheap. But pretty soon we were stumbling around, falling over drunk. I had a late night tram that was going to get me back to the shelter, and I was not entirely sure I was going to make it if this progression of alcohol continued as it was (my friend on the other hand had a twenty minute walk home, but that walk was all up hill). If things continued to escalate the way they were, I was not all that confident that I would be making it home in one piece, much less to my 8am job the next day. Alas, things did continue to escalate. Both me and my friend noticed who ridiculously drunk we were, the fact that we seemed to be getting drunker uncontrollably, and that we really had no idea how we were getting home. The memories just kind of stop with the two of us huddled around one of rooms many public drinking fountains, laughing at god know what and desperately trying to sober up enough get home.
I am not entirely sure how I managed to actually get home, but I recall being extremely shitfaced when I got there.
Youth finds away. The next morning I was up at 4:00 am for my early serving shift at the shelter (the homeless shelter I stayed at was giving me my own room in exchange for work there), and then at the other job by 8am. Like it was no big thing.
1Considering how timely-wimely wibbly-woobly this blog is getting, take the term ‘other night’ to mean as much as 3-5 months ago.
2It’s fucking close to water