The following morning:
“Man, you look skinny”
“Well shit, I probably lost four pounds riding up here.”
“Dude, you probably lost four pounds on the side of Cindylu‘s car.”
(Laughter from the peanut gallery)
Lesson learned: no binge drinking after a 53 mile bike ride. As kind as it was of Ramone to greet me with a cold beer and to buy me a surely overpriced shot of Jäger at the end of the night, the two combined I hold largely responsible for my demise.
I can tell you this with authority: if it is true what was reportedly said while my contracting stomach was liberating its contents all over the side of Cindylu’s car (“Don’t worry, that’s what little brothers are for”), then Cindylu’s little bro is one person I should avoid.
It would be one thing if I could claim Friday night as an isolated incident in an otherwise innocent career of consumption, but sadly it is just another shameful cairn on my historical trail of well-intentioned merrymaking. There was May of 2001, when I was about to take off for an 8 month trip around the world. Abogado and Prince Dutt would drive me to the airport in the morning and so we had a small get together the night before at 1669. I don’t really remember that, but I do remember being shaken awake near a small pool of what should have remained within. I puked 4 times on the flight. The poor businessman sitting next to me ringed the stewardess and asked to move seats. When Carolyn picked me up at JFK in New York the plan was to take the subway into the city. I was still nursing my water bottle like a udder. Then some 5-year-old kid with mini-dreadlocks tapped on me and asked for my water-bottle. I figured he wanted a swig so I gave it to him. He unzipped and relieved himself in my water bottle. That’s when Carolyn and I got off the jerky subway and took a cab to her apartment where I slept the rest of the afternoon.
There was also Istanbul, 2003. Abogado and I had been up until 3:30 a.m. dancing and drinking the night away in the various clubs of Taksim. Two hours later an airport shuttle would come by my hostel. I was flying in to Barcelona to meet up with Eric and then Ramone and Elijah. I was told, though I still don’t really believe it, that the guy working at the hostel came into my room shaking me away four separate times before I finally stumbled and mumbled my way into a van full of judgmental, young Italians. Arriving at the airport the Italians disappeared like whatever I had in my wallet this Friday night, and I was awestruck to see the seemingly endless line passing through the security baggage check just to get into the airport. I waited with everyone else, shuffling my backpack forward every minute or so and sitting on top of it when I started to feel dizzy. But then, literally 3 minutes before I was about to put my bags on the conveyor belt I started to feel bad. Real bad. The sweats. No stopping it.
Somehow I did make it through the security check, perspiring like a wild man, but once through on the other side, I looked for a cool corner of linoleum and immediately laid down, ready to die. Everything was spinning. Desperately I looked for a bathroom. But then … vomit on the floor of Istanbul International Airport.
You would think, five days later at the infamous Kabul Hostel in Barcelona, this shameful event would still be fresh in my mind. Yet somehow, in the upper entrails of Europe’s second most-well-known party hostel (Flying Pig is of course first), where an international smorgasboard of scruffy travelers was listening to bad techno, a young German kid with a squeaky voice convinced me to take a shot of absinthe. And then another. This was after the usual night’s drinking of Sangria in the downstairs lobby.
It was a shame because I had successfully rallied the troops (including Mila from Utrecht) to go to an “erotica festival” being held in town, but I never even made it out of the hostel. And then around three in the morning, my dear friend Eric (now off to Taiwan for pottery grad school, who knew! and bon voyage my man) felt the beginnings of a sangria-colored warm waterfall descending from the top bunk. We’re talking about a vast quantity. All over his face. Before he even knew what hit him.
One of those things that a lifetime of apologies will never make up for.
But before you get the wrong idea about my drinking habits, let me say this. As my friends often complain about, I go out a hell of a lot less than just about anyone else I know. The fact that I do drink so little is probably largely responsible for the embarrassing stories I’ve amassed from when I do. Just about any night, I’d much rather have green tea and play a game of chess than get belligerent in some swanky Santa Monica hotel. But as I was reminded on Saturday morning as the five of us – friends for about 10 years now – woke up again hung-over and giggling, sometimes even the worst hand-trembling, brain-clouded, IQ lowering hangovers are worth the nights that produced them and the hazy memories which will spark knee slapping for decades to come. Here’s to me and my sloppy friends.
And Cindylu’s little brother.