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“After School Specials” lied to us. It won’t kill you. You won’t end up in the hospital. You’re not gunna get arrested. You’re not gunna get raped and you probably won’t rape anyone yourself. Your parents won’t find out and you’ll never have a tearful embrace, thanking them for grounding you. You’re not going to puke all over your crush, the exact second she announces her love to you. If you’re sick the next day, you’ll get over it. You’ll get up, take a shower, live your life, be the same you you always were, and one day in the near future, do it again.
Mary was a good dancer and her body was warm. She was wearing a pink dress that pushed her breasts up to her chin. Her heaving breasts could hypnotize a person. Her hair was red and her eyes were blue. Her freckles promoted innocence. One couldn’t trust her freckles. She was someone I wanted to be around; even moments like now, when she had to latch on to something for balance. A person couldn’t really blame her though, tonight was our last night at UCLA, and it was Thirsty Thursday.
“Are you drunk at all, Spencer?” she asked me, her huge, bloodshot eyes peering into mine.
“Not at all,” I was ashamed, “I’m not drinking.”
“Spencer! You said you were gunna drink for the first time tonight. You promised me.”
“Yeah, I know, but my mom spooked me pretty bad.”
“She won’t find out. Parents never do.”
Tonight was going to be the best night of my life. I would be getting drunk for the first time and getting drunk meant having fun. I had it all planned out. I was going to get buzzed, not drunk. I would kiss girls I didn’t love, maybe even have sex. I would be able to brag to all my friends that I was drunk first. I would be an adult. This was all going to happen until my mom hit me with a “If you drink, I will know.” That scared me. If she knew I was planning on drinking, she would definitely know if I actually went through with it. She was psychic or a Superhero or something. And she didn’t trust me.
A frat party is a lot like a zoo. For one, the smells are the same. But mostly, a frat party is made up of animals eating, sleeping, and f***ing while the humans watch in amusement. The drunk don’t care where they are or who’s watching them. They just do. They act upon their first impulses. But you need to keep them locked in a cage, because if they go out into the real world, it could be dangerous. Being sober at a Frat Party is sobering.
Mary grabbed my arm and led me to the rude bartender who gave me a look when I ordered a Dr. Pepper straight earlier that evening. The bartender smiled when Mary was around. She ordered some vodka drink, I didn’t hear what it was. It was red. There was very little alcohol in it.
“Here. This way, it’s my drink. I ordered it, and you were just taking sips,” It made sense, “For all you know, there’s no alcohol in here.” But I did know the red drink was mixed with alcohol; so saying I didn’t would be lying.
“I don’t know, Mary. My mom is gunna find out.” It hurt me to say this. Like all my plans for the night were fizzling and dying. I knew why Mary wanted me to drink. And I wanted to tell her that I would do it sober, but only when she was sober too.
“Spencer, you’re so cute,” Not the good kind of cute, the naive kind of cute, “She won’t know. Start having fun. Just drink.”
Vodka has a funny way of swishing in your mouth before you can get it down. And once it goes down, you’re always waiting for it to come back up. Your throat warms but your tongue shivers. Your stomach tries to turn inside out. You first lose feeling in your lips. Your legs go next. It makes you feel rotten and twisted inside. But your eyes become happy. Nothing looks negative. And a new you forms. A braver, funnier, cooler you. That is until the ethanol wears off.
I let this new me take over. He called the shots; I just sat back and watched. I watched as I wasn’t afraid to dance and I watched as I flirted with girls I never met before and I watched as I had 4 more shots.
I kept waiting for my mom to bring it up the next day. She had to have known. She should have been able to smell it. She never said a thing and I realized … She lied. She didn’t know. She wasn’t able to know. I could have ingested a gallon of Absinthe and she would still be clueless. She wasn’t a psychic. She wasn’t a superhero. She was a mother who wanted best for her children. And her mother’s intuition told her that her son was honest.
About one year and many inebriations later, I woke up on my friend’s bathroom floor and felt like dying. I was hungover. And it sucked. And my mom was coming to pick me up in twenty minutes. I washed my face and brushed my teeth, which were still stained with vomit. I saw my reflection in the mirror. I looked like a ghost. The other me really did a doozie this time.
Thinking about the night before made me gag. I had a beer. And plenty of vodka. And some Jack. And another beer. Repeat. I also smoked two and a half cigarettes, one joint, six hits from a pipe, and some puffs of apple-flavored hookah. I wasn’t even planning on drinking. I went over this with my friends. I was going to have two beers at the most. They were going to refrain me from having anything hard because of my problem. Of once I started, I couldn’t stop.
While under the influence, I kissed two girls that meant nothing to me, while I made a fool out of myself in front of the one girl that I had feelings for. I cried in the corner because I was afraid that Mephistopheles was in the room. I forgot my name and woke up my best friend so she could tell me. I got up on a table and danced by myself to crappy electronic music that was playing. If parties were zoos, I was the main attraction.
I also drunk-dialed my little sister. I used to be her role model, but that image was dissolving in her head. She knew I had tried alcohol, but she didn’t know it was a typical activity for me. She expressed her disappointment in me to her boyfriend. Her boyfriend would never get drunk at a party and pass out on the bathroom floor.
My mom picked me up and she had no idea. I wish she could tell. I wish she would ground me and I could learn my lesson. I wish I didn’t have to lie to her when she asked how the party was, “It was fun. I wouldn’t really call it a party, more like a get-together. But I had a good time.” I wish she wouldn’t smile and rustle my hair. I wish she wouldn’t call me a good kid. I wish she didn’t trust me.
“After School Specials” lied to us. They told us parents would catch us and give us an intervention. They told us friend would be there for us, helping us make the right decision. They told us there would be moments scarring us from ever drinking again. They told us it was simple; that drinking was bad and sobriety was good. They led us down the wrong path. They didn’t even mention the most important parts. That drinking was a f***ing blast. That vodka can make you fearless. That you’ll be able to reach heights never reached before with just that little bit of alcohol in your system. That people don’t look down on you when you drink; you look down on yourself. That you hate yourself so much, you try to poison yourself with the same thing that made you hate in the first place. That life isn’t fun on it’s own anymore. You need chemicals to make you like the world and try new things. That your insides feel violated. And that you can never go back.
This was lived before a live studio audience.