It's that time again - when I take up Kerri Sackville's challenge. Each week on her website Life and Other Crises, she relates one of her firsts. This week it is her first time drunk.
You need to know that I come from a family that generally doesn't drink. It's not that we had any issues regarding alcohol, but it just wasn't something that was part of our every day lives. Even at weddings and Bar Mitzvahs, my dad would prefer a soft drink. My mom, however, would get an alcoholic beverage at these affairs, and even introduced me to the joys of gin and tonic on a hot summer afternoon when offered by a neighbor.
The legal drinking age in New York State at the time was 18. (It was later raised to 21 where it stands now.) My 18th birthday came while I was in college ... and that college was 90 miles north of NYC where I lived/live. I was away from home, living in a dorm. I was 17 - younger than most - when I entered college in September of 1970 ... not that it stopped me from having a drink or two when I first arrived.
However, on February 25, 1971 I turned 18 and was about to take part in a very traditional rite of passage. The college was located in a small farming community in the Mid-Hudson Valley, and like any college town, had it share of bars. You could roll down Main Street and go from one to the next - and many did ... quite literally. On the night of my 18th birthday, my friends saw to it that I did!
It was a bitter cold winter night as we walked down the hill from campus to town, arriving at P&G's, the first stop of the night. None of us had ever heard the phrase "bar crawl" and I am not even sure that it had been coined yet, but that is what we did that night. My friends saw to it that my hand always had a drink in it ... most likely an apricot sour which was what I mostly drank during my college days. (Was not a big fan of beer.) We visited places with names like P&G's, The Homestead, and other college town bar names.
I'll be honest, my memory of most of that night is a bit sketchy ... I know, big surprise there! However, the next thing that I knew, I was back on campus (I have absolutely no idea how I managed to get up that steep hill ... I am pretty sure I wouldn't have been able to walk it by then) and standing in front of a friend's window in the girls' dorm! My male friends who had taken me out that night had apparently abandoned me at some point ... I think. (Most of the dorms had gone co-ed the year before, but there were still 2 all girls dorms, and they were locked at night.) It was bitterly cold out by now - though I wasn't feeling much pain to be honest - and I wanted to get inside ... so I started singing! It couldn't have been good! My friend Cindy opened her window and kept telling me to shut up ... but the cacophony continued until she finally came to the front door and let me in. By this time, her roommate Lynn and hallmate Barbara had joined the party. The last thing I remember that night was sitting on the floor in the hall outside of Cindy's room saying "I can't believe I am sitting on the floor!"
Hanging on the hook by my closet - or more likely perhaps, on the floor of my room ... the details are a bit foggy you see - was my Canadian Air Force parka that I was wearing that night. It was very similar to what you see here, except that it also had pockets on the sleeves. I am not sure what time it was that I picked it up ... I can't imagine that I was actually planning on going to classes that day ... but when I did, it made the strangest sound, considering it was a coat made of fabric, goose down and rabbit fur. This certainly wasn't the sound you would expect those soft materials to make when rubbed together.
I am not sure at what point that had started to happen but I am sure that for at least the first few drinks, I did indeed place the glasses back on the bar. I didn't waste much time thinking about it, however, and proceeded to empty my pockets and line the glasses up along the window ledge in my dorm room, where they remained - at least until the end of that school year as sort of I trophy I suppose. I then decided to do the only logical thing that an 18 year old in my condition could possibly have done at that time of the morning (or was it afternoon?) ... go back to bed!
Cindy has remained friends with my wife (who also attended the same college and was part of the same group of friends - though she and I hadn't started dating yet at the time of my 18th birthday) and myself since our college days. (Cindy was Maid of Honor at our wedding.) Lynn and Barbara had been out of touch with us for more than 40 years, but have now reconnected and we have all gotten together recently to catch up and reminisce. And yes - this one night was still a topic of conversation.
The next time I got drunk was in Rome, Italy, but that - as they say - is a story for another time.
(If you haven't yet, why not stop by and visit my main blog Thoughts From The Dark Side and get to know me a bit.)