39. Night


And David invited him, and he ate in his presence and drank, so that he made him drunk. 

2 Samuel‬ ‭11:13‬ 

Nothing memorable occurred on my twenty-first birthday. Most of the guys jumped at their first chance to legally go drinking with the boys, but not only was I hesitant to dive right into the booze, there were a few reasons for me to pass on the several invitations I’d already received. First and most obviously, dad was an alcoholic and died because of it and Austin nearly fell into the same trap. Second, I’d seen the debilitating effects of alcohol poisoning and hangovers. Though I figured the drinking must be fun at the moment, the day after seemed miserable. Finally, drinking usually occurs in the night hours which was a huge deterrent for my morning eyes ready to be shut at ten o’ clock.

About three weeks after my twenty-first birthday though, the guys were throwing a party. I decided this would be the night. Having become part of a brotherhood with new found confidence, I decided to finally accept the boys’ offers to share a drink.

Due to housing shortages in Bangor, RTT was moved to a very small Navy base down the road called Keyport. This private building became our own frat house. Eventually, one or two sailors moved in, but that didn’t deter us from being belligerent asses. 

The party was held at a covered area with a few picnic tables and public barbecue pits a short walk from the barracks. I’m not exactly sure of the occasion, but my suspicion is one of the senior guys was set to depart to the fleet soon, so it may have been a going away party. As darkness fell and fires lit, the smell of beer and liquor joined the sizzling scent of brats and burgers.

“Yo Decoup,” West shouted excitedly, “Screw all that other shit, your first real drink has to be a Jäger Bomb.” The short redhead handed me a cup as he continued persuading me to try his favorite drink. “It’s a great starter. The Jäger goes down smooth and the Red Bull will get you revved up for the night.”

“Okay, sure. Why not.” West cracked open the Red Bull with a hissing pop. Once he poured half of the misty drink in my cup, he unscrewed the dark green bottle featuring a twelve-point buck and poured a few glugs. He made himself one after handing me mine.

“Jäger Bomb!” He shouted before lifting the cup to his lips. I did the same and proceeded to chug the whole thing, which is the proper protocol I’d observed for consuming this drink. The licorice flavored cough syrup doused my tongue and slid down my throat with a mild alcoholic afterburn. “Hey! Decoup had a drink guys,” West yelled. A few others watching cheered as I raised my empty cup.

“So, what else should I try?” I asked.

“You’d probably like a Jack and Coke,” Manazir said. “Hubbard can hook you up.”

“Roger that.” I headed over to Hubbard standing at the tailgate of his truck with drinks propped on it.

“Yo Hubbard, I’ll try a Jack and Coke.”

“You drinkin’ Decoup?” He said, a look of surprise on his face and a fat chaw under his lip.

“Yeah, I’m goin’ for it tonight. Figured now’s as good a time as any to try it since I turned twenty-one a few weeks ago.”

“Alright brotha, one Jack and Coke comin’ right up.”

I didn’t chug this one, I sipped it for a bit. The Red Bull and Jäger must have hit me a few minutes later as energy lit up my eyes and an unfamiliar warmth filled my gut. I paid close attention to the accumulating tingling sensation in my limbs and my head. I knew I was getting drunk. Though the booze helped me relax in conversations, I refused to make a fool out of myself so I consciously wound up my body as it loosened with each sip.

“Hey Schreiner, what would you recommend I try next?” I asked.

“Hey, to be honest,” he said, “You should back off the booze man, I know it’s your first time and all but if you keep going like this you’ll never want to drink again.”

“Oh come on man, seriously?”

“Yeah man. Take it slow and enjoy the buzz.”

I left Schreiner feeling cheated. Now was my chance to try everything and he rejected my request. What an idiot.

“Hey Manazir, what’s a good beer?”

“All we got is the shitty stuff, but it doesn’t taste bad if you’re drunk,” he said.

“Alright, well gimme somethin’ and I’ll try it.” He handed me a Bud Lite. I’d tried sips of beer several before and hated it. In my opinion it always tasted like drinking a loaf of bread. But that night, it tasted great.

One glorious pic of everyone wasted before we went inside

After three Jäger Bombs, a Jack and Coke, a Bud Lite, and many conversations, the party dwindled and the cool air drove us back into the barracks. While inside, I remember sitting around a coffee table in the common area with about seven people. The only certain face that comes to mind was Hubbard’s. We all ravenously slapped the table like a bongo drum for some reason and pointed fingers at each other. 

I only stayed at the jam session for a few minutes. As the Red Bull finally wore off, a wave of tiredness added a soggy dimension to my distorted vision and swimming head. 

“Night guys, I gotta go to sleep.”

“Later Decoup!” Screamed Hubbard in an obnoxiously loud voice.

I stood up. My whole body felt numb. As I walked past the drinking game, I noticed a bottle of strawberry Smirnoff Vodka sitting alone on an end table. Of its own accord, my right hand grabbed the open container and brought it to my mouth to dose me with three large gulps.

For some unknown reason I smiled as I walked to my room at the end of the hall, my whole body tingling with fizzy, distorted bliss. Once in my room I managed to brush my teeth and take off my shoes. Then I walked to the foot of my bed and blacked out. Too bad I forgot it was Sunday night.

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