Before I recount the tale of my first time, let me first provide a little back-story. You may not be aware of this, but I was born and raised in Eastern Europe: the land of accordions, iron curtains, and vodka. The Double E is also a land that doesn’t simultaneously glorify and vilify drinking like America has a tendency to do. In the old country, enthusing is a part of normal day-to-day life. It’s simply in our blood. And as such I feel I should have some leeway when it comes to that pesky BAC limit—but I digress. Sure we have our problems with overly enthusiastic relatives and dangerously inebriated soccer hooligans, but there isn’t a big social stigma against drinking itself, and certainly not against enthusing at “disturbingly young” ages. I don’t remember there being an official drinking age, and if there was, it was certainly never enforced.
Asking me to recall my first time trying an alcoholic beverage is like me asking you to recall your first birthday party. I was simply too young to remember the very first time that the sweet nectar-of-the-gods touched my lips. I do recall my father/priest/grandma/doctor letting me try some of whatever they were drinking on multiple occasions in my extreme youth, so let’s just say it first happened when I was 4 and wrap up this part of the flashback.
Because of my—and more importantly my parents’—upbringing, there was never any reason for me to “experiment” with alcohol as so many teenagers do here. If the fruit isn’t forbidden, it just doesn’t taste as sweet I guess. My one and only foray into drinking during my formative years happened in 1995. I vividly remember being inspired by Snoop Doggy Dogg to try some gin and juice when my parents were gone one day. I took a tall glass, filled it halfway with gin, topped it off with some Sunny D, and proceeded to down the whole thing as quickly as I could. It was the first time I got thoroughly buzzed, and little did I know that my liquid love affair was only just beginning.
As cliché as it sounds, my very first time getting good and proper drunk happened on my very first night in college. The dorm I was placed in was not in your typical college dormitory. The complex was a former hotel, complete with a pool and a Jacuzzi, and we all lived in five-person suites, complete with our own bathrooms and a living room. After we got settled in, configured our rooms the way we wanted them, and got to know each other a bit, one of the suitemates informed us that he had some friends in town and asked if we’d be ok with them coming over. Being the cordial young chaps that we were, we immediately agreed.
Our decision proved to be a wise one. It turned out that one of the friends had access to his older brother’s ID, so the group arrived stocked with Hooch, Boone’s Farm, root beer (the alcoholic kind), regular beer, as well as some plastic-bottled spirits. We proceeded to play Captain Hook, various card-based drinking games, and to just go shot-for-shot well into the night. When it came to be that time, I was thoroughly hammered.
I survived the short stumble to my room only to realize in horror that I had lofted my bed up and over my desk prior to the festivities. Six feet of narrow, wooden ladder stood between my pillow and me, and I wasn’t about to back down from the challenge. Mustering all of my liquid courage, I made the harrowing climb up and into my bed gratefully without incident. I passed out that night with a grin on my face, secure in the knowledge that if I could make the climb that drunk on my first night, I was set for the year.