“You’re ugly, I’m hot– get over it HO!” yelled one impressionable young lady to another before raising her eyebrows mockingly, jutting out her lips, and clacking out the door in her 6-inch heels, all in one synchronized, in-your-face movement.
The aggressor had come to the party in a flamboyant, feathery mini-dress and had the appearance of a midwife-drag queen. The receiver of the insult, incredulous and clearly not humored, was a pretty, innocent looking girl – delicate features and kind eyes. Not in the least bit “ugly,” when contrasted with the sasquatch who’d hollered at her.
I laughed at the irony, laughed amid the throng of people packed in the small house – people packed like the cattle that seem to define the very image of Davis that everybody seems to have. I’d come to the party seeking not alcohol or true love, but as an observer, a journalist. And it was there on the plaid couch I sat, sipping my Gatorade and smiling with Cheshire smugness.
What did I notice in my sober segregation? People are funny. People are a hell of a lot funnier when they drink. Nothing new; perhaps I am not much of a journalist.
I watched my good friend Julian slowly foray into a drunken haze – watched him voraciously tear apart beef jerky and start scrappy fights with the rain pipes outside the window. My eyes then fell on Dave, who was raising his 8-foot-long arms in the air and running around like Bobo, the street corner chimp, proclaiming his undying love for Obama. I saw other acquaintances get a little too “close,” and yet others engage in long, philosophical conversations about pressing world issues, like Jessica Simpson’s cleavage.
Anthony, a longtime friend from home, differs from the average drunkard. When this man drinks, he likes to paint things. He paints murals – murals of crazy faces, of hands straining to touch or dark cities and bulbous hearts. He paints glorious fields, shimmering with hope, but peppered with winded workers. He etches out the subtleties of human relations, and the foreboding tensions of our faults. Tonight, he draws a traditional African mask on Julian’s face before passing out in his underwear.
But at this particular moment, as I sat watching the initial exchange between these two girls, I laughed – laughed at the ugly, influenced reality of their enmity. I laughed at their faces, red and puffy – faces glowing with fiery sheen, pruned up with hideous, hissing intensity. Tomorrow, they would be sitting in Starbucks laughing over their macchiatos and talking about their terrible midterm grades, but now they were demons, drunken and fierce, their French manicures about to tear one another apart at any instant. So, I laughed.
And with my laugh came an epiphany that most 20-year-old college students never care to embrace: is alcohol really the best social lubricant?
Don’t get me wrong – I am by no means a purveyor of temperance, but sitting there that night, I, for the first time, witnessed the full scheme of the good, bad and ugly of liquor’s allure. I saw the irony – that in the morning, some of these people wouldn’t remember half of the “great night” they had. Some would wake up with splitting hangovers, the worst of self-inflicted torture if properly executed. Others, like poor Julian, would wake up looking like they’d been in a tattoo parlor all night. Yet more would arise to find themselves naked and confused, as if having been cathartically reborn in a frat house bathtub.
It seems that alcohol is to American teens as guns are to Sudanese children; it ages us, makes us a harder. Except of course, our substance is a whole lot stupider than theirs, because we actually choose to put ourselves through humiliation and degradation. I guess the Sudanese dilemma would be more comparable to being abducted and forced into a keg stand.
Tangent aside, I’m glad that I am smart when I drink. I thank my unparalleled maturity for this. In fact, it seems that, when drunk, my general intelligence only rises; I’ll let my actions speak for themselves. I just hope that 4-ton Indian elephant I freed from the S.F. Zoo last night while inebriated isn’t spreading havoc as I write.
ZACK CROCKETT had been awake and writing for 72 hours on end, with nothing but beer and pistachios at his disposal. Sympathize at email@example.com. XXX