the glass in hand

Like anything else, the night always starts off with the best of intentions.
It begins with a phone call to a group of friends and plans for a much needed night of madness and redemption. And it’s good to feel this way.
It helps us rebel against the boredom and stagnant lives that would otherwise plague a mundane existence.

So it begins . . .
The first drink of the night finishes with a satisfied, “AHHHH!”
This is the perfect exhale after a long day, or better, this is the perfect release after a long week, and in that exclamation point of an exhale, It marks the beginning of a celebration, which we pay for in full.
In that one outburst of a long-awaited, “AHHHH!” the night is underway and all of life and life’s terms is put on a temporary hold.

The first drink leads to the second. This creates a chemical reaction, and in reaction, the ties that bind us begin to loosen and the mind-set begins to change.
Music is good . . . it mixes in like a necessary ingredient for the remedy, which consists of good friends, good music, good booze, and good times.
The lights are brighter now and the party is underway. This is the upward swing and midway to the height of the occasion.

The glass in hand becomes a friend as the third drink becomes the fourth, and the fourth drink brings life into the painless zone. The smile becomes wider and the troubles of yesterday or the day before is forgiven, if not forgotten.

The music brings on the sensation to dance and the glass in hand grants the courage to do this without the concern for anyone else:
Each sip washes away the shyness or the inconstancies that hinge upon insecurity.
Each gulp clears the awkward steps that would otherwise trip-up an introduction to a member of the opposite sex.

The fifth drink comes next—and though it has been suggested to slow down—there is no stopping this ride. There is no stopping it because we become unstoppable. The glass in hand becomes a voice; it voices the desire to counteract the weight of everyday responsibilities.
The glass in hand screams with outrage. It demands the right to live free and it extends itself like the gesture of a middle finger to anyone who would oppose this right.
Nothing could go wrong and no one could take away the glass in hand. It is the voice of entitlement and it is determined to get its money’s worth.

The fifth drink adds to the momentum, which brings on hints to the night’s demise, only no one ever seems to recognize the warning signs.
The sixth drink becomes the seventh. The seventh becomes eight, and eight becomes ninth, followed by the tenth, which brings the ride up to its brief plateau of untouchable greatness.
However, the ride stalls here for a moment. Figuratively, like a rollercoaster, the ride teeters at its highest point, and then suddenly, the direction is about to switch..

Earth spins too quickly and the ride upwards tips to the downward side. The scenic rise to drunken perfection hits its turning point—the speech changes and words slur. Everything flips.
The good time becomes bad—the music is too loud—all you want to do is stop the world from moving—and your friends are standing on their own two feet without the need for a wall to help them hold their balance.
The once-bright world turns into a spinning mass of confusion that tragically changes into the stomach’s violent abandon of all that entered.

This is the only part of the ride that is truly unstoppable . . .

In all its cruelty, the ride refuses to quit, and no matter how filthy the toilet is—we end up face-in, retching and heaving up the contents of our drinks and dinner. This is the worst.
No one plans for this part. It just comes like an unwanted guest who arrives and destroys everything. No one wants this part of the trip, but everyone forgets—this is the back-end part that comes with the price of admission . . .

I once found myself near the paddleball courts in the park on Prospect Avenue. I began the summer’s night with the best of intentions. I played a few drinking games, but the glass in hand decided to turn on me.
I had split off from the crowd and found my way to a slightly above waist-high, water fountain that stood alongside the high fence on the outside corner of the paddleball court. The pedestal to the fountain was made of tiny rocks set into concrete.

Trying to hold myself up on its base, I leaned down and attempted to drink from the fountain, but the water was uncooperative. Perhaps it was my balance, but the water splashed against my face and hit everywhere, except for the inside of my mouth. Suddenly, my ability to stand correctly changed and I fell to the ground.

This was nighttime. The tall overhead lights were bright and glaring down on the paddleball court, as well as the basketball courts next to it. The high-up lights shone down on the tennis courts at the opposite end as well as the brick-like pathway that stretched in front of all three courts.

I am unsure how long it took for me to reach from one side of this pathway to the other. However, I do recall seeing the fountain from the side of the tennis court, walking, and wanting to reach the water fountain on the other side. Yet, I also recall feeling as if it were so incredibly far away and the glass in hand was no longer able to help me.

While lying on the floor, looking upwards at the top of the fountain, I wondered, “How in the hell am I going to get back up there?”
Next, I felt myself being lifted. I did not recognize who was picking me up—I only knew I was being helped by a girl because of the aroma from her grape smelling hairspray. This hairspray was very popular at the time.
Unfortunately for the girl and her friends, the smell from this hairspray was horribly offensive to me from a previous occasion. And no different from this occasion—after an event with the glass in hand, I once found myself drunk, and lying on the cold bathroom floor while a girl styled her hair with the very same grape smelling hairspray.
After listening to her screech and talk, and after the smell overwhelmed the room—the half-bottle of Seagram’s in my stomach spewed upon the girl’s leg.

As for the girl that helped lift me from the ground in Prospect Park, she was unaware of my history. I assume, she only wanted to help.

Once to my feet, the girl leaned me back into the fence so I could balance myself. She was not alone. But she was also not the only one with grape-smelling hairspray teased in her wild hairstyle. This too was the style of the times. High reaching, heavily sprayed, strands of hair was a look of the 80’s.
And I . . . I was one of its casualties.

Apparently, the small group of three, or maybe four girls, knew me from me early days of elementary school. I was so unbelievably small then. I was still somewhat small when they found me on the ground.
I was older though and my look had changed. I had long, more than shoulder-length, scraggly hair. I was dressed in a pair of blue jeans that were splashed with bleach and a blue and white tie-dye, t-shirt, which I was never able to wear after this very night.

I remember leaning back into the fence. At first, one of the girls held me.
Then she let go, laughing, “I remember you when you were in McVey Elementary School.”
Her face was not familiar. Then again, my ability to understand my surroundings or see clearly was not at its normal level.

I wanted to explain that she should move, but for some reason, my mouth would not form the words.
I remember a girl saying, “He used to be so little and cute . . . but now look at him. He’s all fucked up.” And she was right. I was fucked up.
I was fucked up and the smell from their hairspray was about to cause a horrible reaction.

I wanted to tell them to move, but, “Moo,” was all I could say.
“Moo? Are you a cow,” laughed one of the girls.
I could hear them all laughing at me. But worse, the wind picked up and the putrid smell of Aussie Hairspray hit my nostrils, which triggered my reaction to the point of no return.

“No!” I tried to say.
“MOOO!” But none of them understood.
I tried to explain, “I feel sick,” but that didn’t work.

Again, I explained, “MOOO!” but the girls laughed more.
Then the girl holding me against the fence decided to move the long strands of hair away from my face—and instantly, the world spun around like a cruel joke.
I gave out one last, “MOOOO!” but I could no longer hold the vomit that spewed outward like a chunky-brownish projectile of rotten smelling beer and whatever else that was in my stomach.

I heard the girls scream . . . and then I fell.

The worst part about falling was not the pain of hitting the ground.
I didn’t even feel that . . .
The worst part is that I was back on the ground. I was looking upwards at a concrete water fountain, which might as well have been as tall as The Empire State Building. Worst is that I could not get up by myself, and worst is that I was not only back to lying on the bricked pathway, but this time, I was lying in a puddle of my own puke.

So much for the best of intentions . . .

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