Originally published March 20th, 2004.
Cass’ entry last night has caused for me to think about drinking. More specifically: why do I drink?
In highschool, I was basically the last of my friends to drink (mostly due to the fact that I was friends with pretty much everyone, so there were the super-students / super-christians who would “never drink”).
I had a boyfriend in highschool who drank. My first boyfriend never drank and never wanted to, so it never became an issue. But my second boyfriend drank. I told him I hated it and he still did it. I told him I couldn’t be with him if he drank, but he still did. Even after his obsession with drinking led to him and one of my best friends getting expelled from school…on a related tangent, freshman year of hs 4 of my “best friends” got expelled after bringing strawberry daquiris to gym class…ANYWAYS…I remember there was a time when I actually began to “accept” his drinking…we were at a party and he was drunk and we were outside in the pool and the song “Shimmer” by Fuel came on and he jumped out of the pool and grabbed me, screaming “I LOVE THIS SONG!!!” He pulled me by the hand and out in to the yard, where we danced next to the gazebo to that song…it was such a simple moment that the sweetness of it all made me forget he was drunk…
Jump forward a few months and we break up. No big deal, it was coming anyways.
It was also the spring of my senior year. And everywhere there were parties and “places to drink”. Lo and behold, I became the biggest fucking hypocrite and had drinks. I would not drink anymore than like one beer at a time though as I feared “losing control” and was scared of what being drunk would feel like.
In a way, you can say I started to drink as a “revenge mechanism”…which sucks to say. I wanted to show my ex that I was over him by drinking, something that used to be painful to even think about. GEE I AM SMART. And end of highschool conformity issues probably did not help too much. ;)
As I started to drink, I realized I could get away with things I couldn’t when I was “sober”. Boys would kiss me, and I gained “more” friends. If I did something that could be considered embarrassing (and believe me, I ALWAYS DID…fall over, run into something, etc.) it wouldn’t be that big of a deal at school since I was “drinking”.
The first time I got truly drunk was the night after graduation at our SENIOR PARTY. 7 kegs and bands and almost everyone I graduated with…YIKES. I stayed up the whole night and made out with the boy I had a crush on, along with another who I didn’t. I realized that even though I was “drunk”, I could still somewhat control myself to “get what I want”.
So, second mechanism drinking served: TOOL FOR GETTING WHAT I WANT WITHOUT HAVING TO WORK TOO HARD/MAKE EXCUSES
As the summer progressed, I tried to fine tune this “skill” of controlled drunkenness, but of course right before school started I lost all control and blacked out and something horrible happened. I stopped drinking for about a month, as this was really serious.
But college started and eventually, I found myself having a drink…I mean, it is COLLLEEEEGGGGEEE after all. Freshman year I was a DRUNK. Sophomore year, didn’t drink too much but I had also started the year off dating Chad, who didn’t approve of me drinking so I didn’t to keep him happy (JUMP FORWARD: we break up, he has his first drink). After we broke up I didn’t drink for awhile. I rarely drank that year, and when I did…it was with my GIRLS. Yes, I drank in a small environment with only my closest friends. We would make each other laugh and do crazy things….it was great. :) Junior year…didn’t really drink too much until I stumbled across Boone’s…was hanging out with diff people and drinking became more and more common…led to me getting ticketed for minor consumption (YAY)…became 21…drinking was a “rite of passage”..started going to the bars and buying lots of alcohol to make my friends happy…liked the bars…it was a way to get past being shy…senior year….drunk all over again.
I prefer to only drink in environments that I can “control”. I hate being out of control and in a way am a “control freak” when it comes to myself. Sometimes tension builds up and I feel like I need to “lose control”…this happens maybe twice a year and ends up in me drinking too fast to know when to stop and me getting sick. Now I drink more for boredom than social acceptance. totally boredom all the way. But I do know that I have had some of my most fun times this year when I was completely sober. I do know that I don’t have to drink to have fun, and yet I see myself with a drink in my hand. I know that this school year and summer are my last chances to even come close to being irresponsible so I am also using that as an excuse I guess…blah. heh heh.
I have had a lot of really bad experiences from drinking and yet I continue to do it. It baffles me, but at the same time…it’s somewhat expected. Why do I do it? I guess sometimes I just can’t think of anything else to do or need an excuse for something.
There are some things I can remember with such clarity. Every odd detail preserved in my mind. I can feel those times, smell them. But then there are other times when I all I have is just this general sense of the time that is so strong yet vague that it means so much and leaves me wishing for the clarity. And yet I don’t want it–the feeling of it is enough.
The summer of Dishwalla fits both these descriptions. You could not go anywhere without hearing “Counting Blue Cars.” The radio, MTV, David Letterman, in my head . . . If my memory serves me well, this would have been the summer before my freshman year. Wikipedia does serve me well and confirms this as accurate. And although I choose to declare it the summer of Dishwalla, it was also the summer of Nada Surf’s “Popular” and Primitive Radio God’s “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in my Hand” and Tracy Bonham’s “Mother Mother” . . . maybe it was my age at the time, but it was a summer of very distinctive music that has stuck with me to this day. (Okay, now that I think about it was my first summer with cable. But not MTV. Canadian MuchMusic, eh.)
Back to the summer.
What I remember is this:
I remember a day spent at a friend’s house. One of those friends I was very close with but didn’t spend too much at her house. But that day I was there. And I was spending the night. Which seems odd. But enough digression. I was there and we were in this sub room/living room watching MTV and Dishwalla was on. And then it was on again. And then we were outside. And there was a trampoline I do believe and definitely neighbor boys. And one of them did not go to our school so there was FRESH! And EXCITEMENT! And DANGER!
My heart was racing and there was Dishwalla on in the background of my mind and there was the prospect of someone new. He was wearing an orange shirt with a Reese’s Cup on it and I thought it was SO HOT. Or cute. Whatever choice word soon-to-be-high schoolers use to describe a boy who catches their eye.
And I remember we snuck out to meet the boys after dark. And then it was just him and me. Or at least that’s how it was in my head. We propped our backs up against a rock or a sign or SOMETHING and it was dark and there were stars and we were just looking UP and not saying anything. But everything was racing in my head. And at one point, at one magical point, he put his hand either on my hand or my leg and I’d swear there were falling stars. There weren’t, but I’d swear there were.
And then it was over. That was it–that one moment. With a boy from a different school in an age before cellphones and before Facebook (and even before myspace) and it was MAGIC. When would I see him again?! I DIDN’T KNOW! Who were his friends?! I DIDN’T KNOW! I did know of a recently ex-girlfriend who I’d heard stories from. Another local girl who didn’t go to our school. And I believe she was chased up a tree by devil worshippers. But I could be wrong about that.
To be honest, I pity kids of awkward ages these days for not being able to have these moments. Except maybe the Amish. Maybe the Amish kids can still of innocent. mysterious romantic encounters. But now I bet these kids of awkward ages can look up these kids from other schools on the inter webs and KNOW THINGS ABOUT THEM and EVEN TALK TO THEM. But we couldn’t! So it was magical.
And there were butterflies. Remember those? That faint, overwhelming feelings of their wings fluttering against your insides until you couldn’t bear it anymore?! It’s that feeling, that general and unconcrete feeling that I get when I think back to the summer of Dishwalla.
And one day, maybe one day, I’ll share the rest of the summer of Dishwalla but for now I want to keep that feeling of butterflies as my association with that summer.
Lately, you can’t go anywhere without exposure to some sort of “swine flu” comment. People are joking, people are scared, people are stupid. A certain level of awareness is good, of course, but spreading fear will only make things worse (as evidenced by the over-capacity waiting room at the doctor yesterday when I went in to have my neck adjusted).
During my lunch break, I went to the grocery store to purchase lunch food for the week (with no intentions of avoiding pork should it strike my fancy) and there I saw him: some old dude with what appeared to be a zombie-face with a dripping eye socket. And I went on with my business. However, this sight, during a time of national fear about getting sick, made me remember a certain incident in high school when I–irrationally–let the fear get to me.
I believe it was for Themes in Lit, a senior year blow-off class, that I had to read The Hot Zone, a “non-fiction biothriller” by Richard Preston. The book detailed the origins of certain hemorrhagic fevers and viruses, such as the Ebola and Marburg viruses. This book scared the shit out of me. To this date, it remains the most terrifying thing I have ever read, and I am decently well-read.
Besides the tales of monkeys in a disease control facility infecting people with Ebola, particularly disturbing was a description of “spontaneous bleeding” as a symptom of one of these horrible diseases. Scary stuff.
One night, I was working at the local grocery store when a man stormed in, blood streaming from his face and smeared all over his clothes. I couldn’t see any injury–just blood. He left a trail of blood as he walked, zig-zaggedly, through the store. I was petrified. I ran to the bathroom to get away from the sight with thoughts of ebola running through my head.
“This is it,” I thought. “Ebola has come to northwest Indiana and I have been in almost direct contact with it. As a result, I am going to die but not before spreading it on to more people, who will all die. Soon, there will be nothing left of humanity.”
Okay, so maybe those weren’t my exact thoughts, but they’re close.
After a few days, I calmed myself down through logical thinking (and the fact no one at work had started spontaneously bleeding). I never knew what happened to the man–no one else knew anything and there were no reports of accidents that night. Living in a smallish town, word would have reached me had there been any such accident. It still remains a mystery.
Although still prone to occasionally freaking myself out, I know no longer fret over such things. Not every bleeding person has Ebola. Not every “pandemic” will actually become a pandemic. I won’t get pregnant from a toilet seat. I won’t get AIDS from playing basketball. I won’t turn gay from listening to techno. I won’t turn into an ultra-conservative if I keep FOX News on for more than five minutes. My mom’s back won’t break if I step on a crack. The list goes on . . . and on . . . and on . . .
It’s just like those stupid shirts said back in the day: NO FEAR.
Growing up, I loved nothing more than shutting off all the lights in my room, with the exception of the two light boxes my dad made in high school shop class, and rearrange the six speakers I had hooked up to my frankenstein stereo system and just lay in bed listening to music. (I guess there was also “light” from the glow-in-the-dark star stickers and bead curtains I had hanging up, but that’s beside the point.)
I’ve always loved manipulating sound while surrounding myself with it. I would experiment with different placement of the speakers and different wiring to get just the right sound, which would vary from album to album, artist to artist. Some days I craved the crackly sounds of my vinyl, others the wavering metallic sound of eight tracks. Then there were the nights I would fall asleep with my headphones on, listening to Pink Floyd or The Beatles or Liz Phair or Massive Attack . . . Again, it varied.
When in relationships, the moments I loved the most were those spent in bed, not touching, just listening to music. The other day, I was google searching my old email name and came across this, which I have no recollection of writing:
Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 08:34:39 PST
From: “*Adrienne* Gross” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: weirdness…kind of
Last night, I was at my boyfriend’s house and I decided to put on Exile
In Guyville. Well, after a while we were just laying there in bed and
“Shatter” came on. Now, for some reason this song has always evoked
something in me; like a foreshadowing that this song would end up
holding some *real* sentimental value for me. We were just laying
there, listening to that song and it just kind of summed everything up
in one neat little package. It was one of the neatest experiences of my
That leads me to a question for everybody: Have you ever had an
experience where a Liz song came on and just kind of summed everything
Oh and another thing…when “shatter” ended and “flower” came on, I just
had to laugh. It made me think a little about the lay out of the album
and real life. Just think about it. :)
That moment sounds ideal: just laying there, being washed over by the perfect song in the perfect environment. Pure darkness, except the blue light coming from his stereo. (For this reason, I always loved the song “Blue Light” by Mazzy Star). You don’t need to touch; you don’t even need to talk. Just let the music and the stillness do all the work.
I still love to do this, but I don’t have the time to do it as much. There’s always something to do–you don’t get the time to just relax like that anymore.
If I could dedicate a whole day to doing that again, this would be my initial song choice:
I could listen to it over and over and over . . .