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August 2, 2005

My First Time (Really) Drunk

My first taste of alcohol was in 1983 when I was 11.

My brother and his friends would go to Giuseppe's Pizza and grab a six pack of Moosehead. They had different methods of getting the beer, the easiest was to tip a older friend of theirs $5 to purchase the Moosehead.

The beer tasted bad, sour, I hated it but kept drinking because I wanted to impress the older kids. I would have one, maybe two beers and think I was drunk. I doubt that I really was drunk. No, I know I wasn't really drunk.

My first time really drunk was at my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary in June 1985.

We just moved into Gwynedd Valley, or as I called it "Sleepy Hollow" - because of all the trees and how dark and spooky it got at night. They don't have sidewalks in Gwynedd Valley. Try walking from the train station to your house along the roads in Gwynedd Valley and it becomes a real life game of "Frogger".

In 1985 my father, with his generousity, and that with his siblings, went all out for their parents for this party.

The party was black tie, held at a local country club, fully catered, and had an open bar. It was like a wedding. Plus, by 1985 the family was entering a "Golden Age". My parents were still young enough to have a good time and the second generation of my family were all in their teens or early twenties - so the party was really festive.

Including me. The 13 year old who liked to impress people. I mean, come on, I'm the youngest of the family and an attention whore.

I mean - who is the kid with the blog, who bartended, who organizes the Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken, who moderates Hobokenchat.com, who contributes to Hobokeni.com?

Right. That kid. Well, the party was kicking and they were serving delicious appetizers and anything you want to drink.

Immediately I saw something that caught my eye. They were long, empty glass flutes with strawberries in them. I love strawberries. I watched as a waiter put the flutes on a serving tray and began pouring a bubbly, pale yellow liquid into the flutes.

"Hi, what's that?", I inquired.

"Champagne!", replied the cheerful waiter.

"Can I have one?", I asked.

"Sure, here you go.", and happily gave me one.

I took a sip and boy was this champagne tasty. Sure, I heard of champagne before, it's what rich people drank on New Years. My mother, who over my childhood had to deal with her hyperactive monster, immediately noticed her 14 year old, in a tuxedo, drinking champagne.

"What are you doing?!", she scolded me.

"Champagne wishes and caviar dreams!", I said my best Robin Leach impression. Noting that her expression was less than amused, I quickly added, "Oh, I'm just having ONE, Mom."

"Just one!", she affirmed and left me alone.

I gulped down the sweet drink and chomped on the strawberry. Boy was this living the life. The bubbly drink wasn't like that Moosehead I would try to force down. No, no. This was so much better. I will just have one....more.

One more turned to two more. Two more turned to three more. I don't really remember how many of these I drank, and since it was a big, festive party - no one really noticed how drunk I was getting. I was chatting up all my cousins and everyone was having a great time. I was dancing with my great aunts. A conga line started and who was in front of the line leading Nanny, my father's mother?

Me.

"Furey sure is having a good time! He is so much fun!", commented one of my aunts to my parents.

I'm sure warning bells erupted and my parents slowly realized that their normally hyper son just entered the stratosphere thanks to the bubbly delights of French imports.

I was having a grand time, from what I remembered, until my stomach began to heave. I felt queasy and ran into the bathroom, where I saw my Uncle Bud at the sink.

"Hey pal, you don't look so good.", he said.

"I don't feel so...BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH", I tried to say before I stuck my head in the toilet.

I could go into detail on what happened, but lets say that the end product of half digested strawberries and champagne is as disgusting as you can imagine.

I was light headed, queasy and my father's brother was standing there in horror watching me, his nephew, in a tuxedo, grip the toilet for dear life. My drunk addled brain realized a few things:

1) I can't hide this from my parents.
2) My dad is going to kick my ass.
3) I'm lying on the ground, in a nice tuxedo, with my head in a public toilet.
4) I have to leave now.

Unprepared for the enormity of this situation, I burst into tears.

Uncle Bud tried to sooth me, and told me it would be ok. He shut the stall door, and I was babbling to him not to tell my dad. He said he would get some help and I was there sobbing, throwing up and lying on the tiled floor like a gimp.

Uncle Bud came back and helped me out of the bathroom, along with my brother. My brother got me outside, and gave the valet a key to the car.

"Furey, you can stop faking now.", he told me.

"Faking?", I slurred.

"You're not drunk.", he told me.

Remarkably I didn't throw up for the 5 minute drive home, but was really feeling bad. As soon as we got home I ran upstairs and hurled some more.

"Mmmmmm...so you aren't faking it.", he said in surprise and left me to go back to the party.

A little while later, I scurried into my bedroom and fell asleep thinking that the next morning I would feel better.

As we all know, I couldn't have been more wrong.

My head was pounding when the early alarm clock went off. I first couldn't figure out why my alarm clock was even set - it was Sunday! Then it dawned on me - we were going to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for our family vacation.

I was so thirsty. And I was hungry. Plus my head ached. I went downstairs and I needed breakfast badly. I opened up the refrigerator, and it was nearly empty! We cleaned it out for our week long trip - and it contained only three things: Milk, white bread and Taylor Ham (Pork Roll).

I wish I was making this up.

Yes, the hung over 13 year old boy decides he is so hungry that he must eat a grilled pork roll sandwich on white bread - along with milk.

My sister, Stephanie, came downstairs and tried to stop me. I'm normally irritable in the mornings, and it was exacerbated by my condition, I angrily told her that I was hungry and needed FOOD. I remember that she grinned at me and walked away.

I chowed down the greasy pork roll sandwich and gulped down the whole milk. I felt so much better! I went upstairs, showered and was ready with everyone else to get into the backseat of my father's brand new German car and drive to the Philadelphia International Airport. My brother and sister Stacey followed my parents, Stephanie and I in the twins Camaro.

It was about 20 minutes into the trip that I didn't feel so good again. Remembering the same feeling from last night, I panicked. My first reaction was to blurt out:

"Dad, pull over."

This was coupled with my inexperience with German power window engineering that had me flailing at the controls like an idiot savant on acid. I was trying to get that window down and my head out of the window - I really, really tried - but I the window wouldn't go down and, well...

BLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

All over the closed window and myself.

My father, who didn't quite get the whole "Dad pull over" comment from me was quick to interpret my puking a mixture of milk, pork roll and bread all over his brand new car - it was horrible. He cuts across traffic like he is Richard Petty and quickly gets on to the shoulder of I-95 with the Camaro behind us. Amazingly, he is very calm about the situation.

I run behind my father's car and empty the contents of my stomach. I look behind us and see Stacey and Kevin in the Camaro who are laughing.

Not just any laughing.

Knee slapping, rolling kind of laughter. The kind where you can't control yourself and are doubled over kind of laughter. Oh, they were enjoying every minute of this, watching their brother handle his first hangover that deserves to go into the Hall of Shame.

Feeling embarrassed, but less sick, I quietly go back to my father's car - where my sister and mother did their best to clean up the mess I caused on the window and back seat. Dejected, I glumly sat there and my mother gave me some 7-UP she had to sip on.

We get to the airport and my father had arranged to put his car into long term parking. He tipped the guys there a lot of money, asking if they could clean the car, "My son got sick in the backseat.", he told them. They were given some extra cash and said they would take care of it.

As soon as I go on the plane, the stewardesses knew that the pale, drawn 14 year old kid wasn't looking to happy.

"What's the matter, hon?", said one pretty stewardess.

"I don't feel so well.", I quietly replied.

She gave me a paper air sickness bag and I made my way into the crowded aisle - only to notice how quickly everyone was getting out of my way. It was like I was carrying a holy cross and the people were vampires - I got to my seat in no time.

This day passed, and it became a distant memory. I soon learned by trial and error the tricks of the trade when it came to drinking alcohol. Most of the people in my extended family didn't realize how horribly drunk I was - and a few years after the event we were sitting at the dinner table at an extended family gathering when someone was pulled out a videotape that said: "Nanny and Pop-Pop's 50th Wedding Anniversary".

I got to watch myself go ape shit at the party - and even me watching me - I wouldn't have known I was drunk. It did look like I was just having fun.

Those were good times. Except for the throwing up & hangover parts.

Posted by Furey at August 2, 2005 8:29 AM

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