There are certain combinations of letters that have powerful connotations. PU for example. I’ll use it in a sentence. “PU! Dirt the Fragrance was a hellish idea, Matt Donnelly.”
What else? FU. Verbalized, “FU, TO, Thanks for a great season … benchwarmer.”
Another great use of TO, because I’m Dynamite-fixated, “She’s uh … she’s got sandy blonde hair. She’s uh … pretty good looking face, but I’m just getting really … just kinda TO’d because … I mean she hasn’t even sent me a full body shot yet.” Classic.
Last Wednesday, on the biggest drinking night of the year, I experienced one of the most respected and least appreciated letter combos in existence – DD. The designated driver. Somehow I ended up with the keys and a diet coke at Trapp Tavern in the ‘burbs where I spent the better part of my adolescence house partying and generally causing a commotion.
I braved the bar scene as a somewhat more subdued, sober Nadia out of concern for my cousin and his troop of reunited high school friends, who wasted no time watering down their shots with another round of shots and reliving bits and pieces of their youth.
The tavern was, of course, packed to the walls with extravagantly, if not less-than-appropriately dressed college students and more popped collars than a Ma$e music video. As the self-proclaimed life of the party, I’m usually challenging foes to drinking contests by 8 p.m. like Marion Ravenwood in Indiana Jones.
On the day after my birthday (happy birthday to me), I decide that 23 is a good age to start being moderately responsible. I surveyed the scene with Jane Goodall eyes as if the creatures before me existed on a different plane of being and I was somehow thrown into the mix by mistake.
Interestingly enough, as the night went on I started to notice some alcohol-induced behavioral changes in the crowd – things I never would have picked up on with a good dose of Dewars in me. First, the atmosphere became drunker in a kind of blind-leading-the-blind progression, as if the bartenders led the whole group of patrons toward intoxication in hourly increments.
Second, as the drinks go down, the clothes come off. Several guys were sporting only wife-beaters before the band took its first break. While there was a humorous junior-high-school-dance segregation of men and women at the beginning of the night, a few drinks had both sexes canoodling in no time. So much for being shy. This led to random spit swapping and some PG-13 groping by last call. Those who weren’t attached to a stranger were busy busting moves I’ve never seen on the dance floor, freed by the promise that no one else could really see straight enough to notice and that they probably wouldn’t remember in the morning.
Finally, the line for the bathroom gets exponentially longer and people, glammed up girls in particular, get significantly braver (perhaps just apathetic) in response.
Funny anecdote: The potty line is 10 deep when I finally make it to the hallway. Patience is a virtue, so I take a moment to plan which Thanksgiving pies I’ll be forking first when a flying V of stumbling mumbling drunk ladies storms to the front of the line.
In the face of obviousness, the ring leader belts, “IS THIS THE LINE FOR THE BATHROOM!?!”
We nod empathetically.
“(Obscenity) that! Who’s in the men’s room?” The door flies open, and otherwise occupied men peer over their shoulders in shock at the mass of women now staring at their backs uncomfortably. Blondie pours in followed by her entourage, and one-by-one, men trickle out grumbling.
Other women follow suit (yay for me, I’m closer to toilet bliss), and soon there are more than 10 women in the men’s bathroom.
The bouncer, a huge, Mr. T-esque man comes in after them. The door is still propped open for the lucky onlookers to witness the whole scenario.
“Heeeeeeeeeeeeeey,” said the blonde, staring up almost a foot into his eyes.
“What are you doing?” he cut her off mid-sentence.
“Well this is … this is my friend Connie,” she started, twirling her hair. “She has to pee. Have you seen that line? It’ll take forever so we just thought we’d use this room.”
“Out.” He is straight-faced and looks weathered from hours of dealing with similarly unintelligible and defiant twenty-somethings.
“Aww, you are sooooo meeeeeeeeaaaaaaan.” The girls file out defeated. I smile as they take up the end of the line and I am again that much closer to relief.
This whole event makes me think of all the idiot moves I’ve made and later regretted. As this is the holiday season, rich with office parties, all-nighters and other miscellaneous celebrations, I decided I should arm everyone with some preparatory no-nos to keep in mind when you are in the same room with kamikazes and co-workers.
Write them on your hand if you have to and refer to it at key moments when your rationality wavers. I’m not saying don’t enjoy yourself. If you need seven shots of sambuca to tolerate your boss’s wife or your nagging aunt, so be it. I’m just giving you hot spots to steer clear of.
1. The copy machine. Your butt in print will never be as funny the next day. It’s not that funny in the first place. Really, it’s a close relative of the ink blot test. Yawn. That goes for all other body parts, miscellaneous embarrassing objects, important incriminating documents, pets and anything else you can fit under the lid. The worst part of this is there is definite, undeniable evidence that can be scanned, e-mailed, posted and joked about. Stay away from the copy machine.
2. Don’t dance on anything above ground level. Aside from the obvious danger of falling from high altitudes or breaking something important (like your legs), if you’re courageous enough to get up on furniture or the bar, you’re already not in good shape to dance. Further, these are usually the people who dance like Elaine from Seinfeld, and you don’t want that highly publicized.
3. Bringing your own flask does not make you hard core.
4. The bouncer/doorman/security guard does not think you are cuter after a few drinks. You might think he is after you have a few drinks. If you’re going to try to get away with stuff, do it as close to the beginning of the night as possible. Don’t start when you can’t get a sentence out without repeating the first three words. Example, “Don’t … don’t you … (hiccup) … don’t you think I should be able to pour my own beer from this side of the bar?”
5. Leave before you leave your mark. Whatever fun you think you are going to miss during the dessert course is not worth the pain of explaining why you called your ex 15 times on speakerphone admonishing him for dating someone five years younger than you. Who does that really? Now I’m blushing.
6. Never, ever lay down where it’s comfortable. You’ll be out cold and a prime target for mischief. Sharpee mustaches take days to wear off completely and scrubbing just makes it worse, honey.
7. Starting a sing-along is corny. When you end up swaying in a circle moaning the third verse to Piano Man, you’ll see what I mean.
8. Starting a conga line is corny. When someone’s hands end up a little lower on your waist than you’d prefer, you’ll know what I mean.
9. Don’t think your boss’s wife is giving you eyes. She isn’t. Even if she is, she isn’t. This goes for your boss’s husband as well. Your boss also isn’t. In fact, let’s just pretend no one is. The saying goes that you shouldn’t dip your pen in the company ink. Ink stains. It creates messes. If someone puts their hand on your leg, make a run for the bathroom. Just make sure it’s the right bathroom.
10. Most importantly, don’t drive drunk. This one isn’t funny. At the end of the day, I had much more fun being the DD than a DUI or even DEAD. Please take care of yourselves this season and, wherever you can, take care of someone else, especially when alcohol is involved.
Even I’ll drink to that.
Nadia Stadnycki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.