This is a piece I wrote for my creative nonfiction course. It's a braided essay, with three separate strands of text that are tied together in some way. I didn't know what I was going to write about on the day we were supposed to discuss our topics. I had three topics in mind that I was trying to choose from, and luckily I picked this one. I went with my gut. Or it was the first one on my list. Doesn't matter, because I think it turned out pretty well. That doesn't mean much, though, because I tend to like my not-so-good-in-real-life pieces. Constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated, as usual. Any suggestion or praise would be great, as I have to improve this puppy for when I submit it to my portfolio.
Also, the name "Lilli" is derived from the Lilliputians from the novel Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, who are particularly small beings. This refers only to size and not the connotations of pettiness that is also associated with the word. Thank my mom.
(Can you spot your character? 10 points if you do! Another 10 points if you find the recurring symbol throughout. Points may turn into cookies.)
One Drink, Two Drink, Bad Drink, Good Drink
Everyone has their own idea of fun. Some like to drink, dance, and party until the sun comes up. Women wear short dresses and stand in lines in freezing weather to get into clubs where they get drunk and dance in 3-inch heels. I would never feel comfortable with that, especially when I would still have to make it home. I have often wondered how a person could willingly put themselves in a position where they were not in control of themselves, where they were likely to vomit and black out, and where they might do something they would later regret.
Is it ever worth it? Is it really that fun?
Euphoria (BAC = 0.03 to 0.12%): Overall improvement in mood and possible euphoria, increased self-confidence, increased sociability, shortened attention span, flushed appearance, inhibited judgment, impaired fine muscle coordination.
I didn’t have plans on Halloween night. Simon, dressed as a Marlboro cigarette, asked if I wanted to go to a party. I wore my tight black exercise pants and long-sleeved sweater, sparkly kitty ears and matching bowtie, a tail attached to a satin belt, and I topped off the look with three strokes of black eyeliner-whiskers on each cheek. But I wasn’t going to drink.
Simon wanted to get rum, but he had difficulty choosing the brand, struggling between quality and cost. He settled for Bacardi, so I told him to put it back and get Captain Morgan’s. I’d pay for it; I’d have some after all. I don’t know what changed my mind.
I bought a bag of mini caramel rice cakes in case I got hungry.
Sexy pirate girls greeted us at the party, along with superheroes and characters I did not recognize. I stood awkwardly in the corner of the small kitchen. Simon opened the rum and poured some into a clear plastic cup for me.
“Do you want Coke?”
“Are you sure?”
“Nope.” I smelled the spiced alcohol aroma and felt a tingle go from my nose to my head. It made me think of spicy burned honey. The fiery liquid slipped down my throat, and I wanted to like it and the taste it left in my mouth. Drinking it was like being hit by an invisible force. It wasn’t a physical pain, but an overall and muted impact to my head. My eyes watered a little, a light pressure lingered in my head, and then I felt warm.
“Mmm, smells good in here,” says Michelle.
“I can’t wait ‘til they’re ready!” Holly smiles.
“I’ve already made the dough, so all we have to do is assemble the pockets,” Lilli says.
“Are we having those little cheese empana… empadani…” says Maura.
“Empanadas de pino,” Lilli says. “The same ones we had after your grad. Empanaditas de queso, too. What do you want to drink? Wine?”
The girls nod and take their places at the bar stools.
“White, I assume.” Lilli pulls out a Chilean wine from the iron wine rack. Jacob removes two beers from the six-pack he brought – one for him, one for Seth – and asks if anyone else wants one. He puts the remaining four in the fridge. Lilli opens the bottle and pours the wine into glasses.
“Just a little for me, please,” says Maura. “Not too much.” Lilli hands the first two half-full glasses to Holly and Michelle. She takes the bottle and another glass, and positions herself directly across the island from Maura. She begins to pour, hardly looking at the wine, staring at Maura.
“That’s good,” Maura says, but the wine doesn’t stop. “Okay, that’s good. Stop! Stop! Goddamn it!” Everyone laughs. “I just wanted a little bit!” she cries, still not used to alcohol’s flavour.
“Oh! Oops. Sorry. Here you go.” Lilli smiles as she hands Maura a ¾-full glass of wine. She pours the fourth glass and takes a long sip before returning to her mini Chilean cheese pockets. The smell of baking savoury Chilean pastry pockets and the sound of her friends’ laughter fill the kitchen. She feels a warmth in the room, and she’s not sure if it’s the oven or the wine, or if it’s something else.
Lethargy (BAC = 0.09 to 0.25%): Sedation, impaired memory and comprehension, delayed reactions, ataxia (walking and balance difficulty), and impairment of senses.
I sat next to Elastigirl from The Incredibles as I drank my second glass of rum. I settled the burning in my stomach with my bite-sized caramel rice snacks. My head felt both heavy and light, and the room seemed to move and sparkle. I watched the others interact with each other, talking about things I didn’t understand, and waiting for something I could use to start a conversation. I gave up quickly.
Marcus was the only guy I talked to. I’d always had a thing for curly-haired guys, and Marcus seemed nice. Somehow I managed to tell him how much I liked his hair; Elastigirl said it was a decent Jew-fro.
“What do you mean?” said Marcus.
“Oh, no, it’s okay. I’m Jewish, too,” said Elastigirl.
“You guys are Jewish? That’s so cool! Is it… are you really religious? Or is it just your parents?” I asked.
“I’m not religious, but…” Marcus and Elastigirl went on about Judaism as I popped rice cakes into my mouth. Simon was having shot-drinking competitions with sexy pirates in the kitchen. Eventually he hobbled over to me.
“Are you having a good time?” he asked me.
“That girl is so drunk! I’ve had a lot of these. What are you doing?”
“This is Marcus. He’s really nice.”
“Hi Marcus. I’m Simon.” They shook hands. I had a long sip of my rum.
“He’s Jewish. Isn’t that cool?” I said.
“Yeah, I guess.” Simon got distracted by some other party guests and left the room.
I had another sip and a surge of spicy fiery honey went down my throat. I tried finding questions to ask Marcus. Inevitably, I forgot all his answers, but still I fought against the alcohol to remember.
“You’re so nice, Marcus. Like, I don’t know. You’re just nice.” I smiled at him. He smiled back.
“Thanks. You’re pretty nice, too.”
“I’m sorry I’m drunk. I don’t get drunk very often, and I’m sorry that I’m drunk.”
“Don’t worry! It’s okay.”
“No, but I’m sorry. You’re just really nice.”
“Well, maybe we can talk later when you’re sober. Can I add your number to my phone? No, wait. Maybe just your Facebook. I don’t want to… You’re drunk.”
“It’s okay. How do you spell your name?”
Simon came over again.
“Doesn’t Marcus have nice hair, Simon? I have to pee,” I said and left for the bathroom.
“You’re drunk!” I pointed at my reflection and giggled. My cheeks were hot and red, and I splashed cold water on my face. I felt so warm. I stumbled back out, and I fanned myself with my hand, sat on the floor, and poured another glass.
Lilli’s brow is lightly beaded with sweat as she bends down to remove the pan with empanadas de pino from the oven; the hot air blows her hair back. Wine glasses are refilled and two more beers are yanked from their plastic rings. A pile of empanadas are plated and placed in the middle of the large square dining room table. Salad spoons dig into a tomato, cilantro and red onion salad. Plump green grapes imported from Chile sit in a blue glass bowl. The six friends take their seats. The dishes are passed around, and everyone puts a portion of each one on their plate. The first bites into the empanadas de pino unleash the savoury scent of ground bison, onions, spices, and a hint of boiled egg and black olive. The tangy-sweet salad contrasts the savoury, and the grapes burst their sweet, tart juices in the guests’ mouths. When they aren’t busy eating, they’re laughing, sharing stories, and sipping their drinks. The wine and the beer make everyone’s smiles come easily.
“You guys should have kids so that we don’t have to.” Lilli points at Michelle and Holly with her wine glass before bringing it to her lips.
“Are you kidding me?” says Michelle.
“I’m never letting either of you anywhere near my kids,” says Holly.
“Why not?” asks Maura.
“I’d kind of want them to live,” says Michelle.
“What’s the worst that we could do?” Lilli looks at Maura, who smiles back at her, and they giggle until their faces turn red.
Jacob has the last sip of his second beer. “I don’t think your maniacal laughter helps your case.”
Confusion (BAC = 0.18 to 0.30%): Profound confusion, emotional incontinence, impaired senses, analgesia (lack of pain), increased ataxia, impaired speech, and staggering, dizziness often associated with nausea, and vomiting.
“Do you want some Coke now?” asked Elastigirl.
“Mhmm.” I nodded. The room was spinning and my stomach felt like a rumbling washing machine.
Simon woke up and steadied his head. “Have you had any water?” he asked.
“Nuh-uh.” I shook my head slowly and my body swayed.
“Oh, honey. You’re so drunk.”
“Mhmm.” I nodded. Elastigirl brought me a glass of Coke. It was so easy to drink. It refreshed me and cooled me down. I rolled up my sleeves because I was so warm. “I feel funny,” I said.
“Do you want to go to the bathroom?” Elastigirl asked.
“Are you going to be sick?”
“Yup.” I got up and used the walls for balance. I hummed as I entered the bathroom. “Doo, doo. Doo, doo. Okay.” I lifted up the toilet lid. Without warning, without effort, it all came out.
After that, I remember seeing the downtown lights and turning left on Fort Street. I reminded myself to take deep breaths and to not be sick. Somehow we made it to my house, then I had keys in my hand, and then I was in the bathroom. I don’t know what happened in between or what happened to my friends. When my mom called to me from her bedroom, I decided not to let her know I was drunk.
“Are you okay, Oriana?” she asked.
“Hee hee! Oh, yes.”
“How did you get home?”
“Marcus drove. He’s so nice!”
“He drove? Was he sober?”
“Oh yes. Hee hee. He was the only one. He was really nice. Goodnight! Woah.” I had a glass of water, and went to sleep with a cold sweat, hoping that I wouldn’t be sick in bed.
“That’s the end of the second bottle.” Lilli holds the bottle upside down to let the final drips of wine fall into her glass. “It’s water after this.” Seth and Jacob open their last beer, and after their first few gulps, Jacob picks up his guitar and plays. With a deep overdramatic voice, Seth sings along to the made-up melody with lyrics that make everyone laugh.
“For nothing compares / to her long blonde hair / And who can forget / her magnificent breasts? / Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh! / Magnificent breasts!”
Michelle smacks Seth on the knee.
“What? Have you seen them? ‘Cause I have, and they are… OW!” Holly punches him hard on the shoulder.
“Violence is always the answer,” Lilli says. “Which of you drunkards is staying?”
“Jacob and Seth are going to walk me home,” Holly says.
“Just you two, then?” Lilly darts her eyes from Maura to Michelle. “Okay, no problem. Do we want cake now?” Everyone gets up for a chunk of apple streusel coffee cake.
After stumbling back to the table, they each eat their pieces of cake. Within a couple of minutes, the dessert plates are empty. Lilli drinks the last of her third glass of wine, and her head spins, but she feels a warm contentment spread through her body.
Stupor (BAC = 0.25 to 0.40%): Severe ataxia, lapses in and out of consciousness, unconsciousness, anterograde amnesia, vomiting, respiratory depression, decreased heart rate, and urinary incontinence.
I had approximately 13 ounces of straight rum within a few hours. For someone who is five-feet tall, weighs less than 120 pounds, and rarely drinks, the alcohol consumption effects were not minor. When I woke up the next day, my mom informed me of how hilarious and giggly I had been, but she felt no sympathy for me. I was surprised that my head didn’t hurt; I was expecting a severe hangover. I drank a lot of water throughout the day, but it was ginger ale that made me feel better. Even so, my stomach wouldn’t settle. I threw up at least six or seven more times, and I didn’t feel normal for another three days. I had alcohol poisoning. But I wasn’t going to drink – that’s what I said before the party. I wasn’t going to drink.
After Jacob, Seth and Holly leave, Maura and Michelle crawl into their sleeping bags, Lilli reflects upon the successful party she held. As she pours herself another glass of water, she thinks about how well everyone got along, how they laughed and had a good time. It was a perfect evening.
My idea of fun tends to be quite different from others my age. I don’t like to go out and do crazy things until dawn and then have alcohol to blame for my mistakes. I would rather go to the pub or stay in with good friends, good food, and good wine. I don’t need to throw up to have a good time, nor do I need to make a fool of myself, pass out, make bad decisions, or wake up with a hangover, not knowing what happened the night before. Maybe I like to be in control, to preserve my dignity, to be responsible and therefore dull, or maybe the cons simply outweigh the pros of drinking to excess, in my mind. While I might not understand the appeal in severe drunkenness that so many others have found, everyone has their own idea of fun.
Everyone has their own idea of fun.