On drunken ambiguity
I stayed up far too late a few nights ago, talking with my friends, venting some frustrations and laughing about Napoleon (ambiguous jokes are always the best kind). There I sat, crunched against the wall, knees pulled into my chest, when a group of loud and obviously drunk freshmen stumbled past my withdrawn feet, shouting about finding a friend of theirs.
They ran off with quite a bit of noise and left my friends and me to think about what we had seen. The others returned to bantering about the Corsican, but I still couldn’t shed the image of those people stumbling down the hallway.
I don’t understand it.
In my mind, the concept of getting drunk has always evaded even a hint of logic.
Think about it. You pay a ridiculous amount of money for every drink, chugging can after can or bottle after bottle, knowing full well that the next morning you could (and most likely will) wake with a pounding headache and maybe even a bed buddy who looks a lot like Quasimodo. On top of that, everyone knows that enough partying can lead to a Freshman (or Sophomore or Junior or Senior) 15 and, later on in life, that wonderful condition that doctors call cirrhosis of the liver. Am I using a slippery slope argument? Maybe, but everyone knows that drunk people have slower reflexes and impaired balance, so the argument still stands.
I write this not, though, as a nutritionist or MADD lobbyist or even as someone who is tired of people stomping on the floor above him every morning at 3 o’clock. I write this because I am genuinely curious as to what drives someone to drink until they don’t know where they are.
When does life become so bad that the only possible escape is from a cup you scored from some Greek letters or your roommate? Why is it that almost every non-CS40 event we have on this campus is so awkward that we have to lubricate our social gears with a disgusting-smelling drink that looks like pee? What triggers us to drink and drink until we find humor in the vomit dripping down our shirt and saturating those shoes that we hoped so badly would match our outfit for the party? I asked myself those questions that night as I took a walk through the rain.
It still doesn’t make sense to me. We all attend this amazing school with these amazing people and opportunities, yet we feel so compelled to get wasted every weekend. Is there solace in it? Because all I have seen is someone in tears, retching up their dinner. Is there happiness in it? Because all I have seen is someone staggering around with a dejected look on their face. Is there pride in it? Because all I have seen is someone babbling incoherently about how drunk they were.
That same night as I had just come in from my walk, a girl bolted down the stairs behind me, looking around frantically with confusion in her eyes. She finally looked at me and said with an urgency in her voice, “How do I get out of here? I can’t find my way out of here.” I showed her that the door was merely a few feet behind her, and before I even had a chance to ask her if she was all right, she was gone.
That really resonated with me because it made me wonder if that was the reason: Maybe we just want to get out of here. Maybe we’re all so miserable, and we think there’s no escape until someone points to that easy-access door right behind us, and then we have it, our answer. Or, at least we think it’s our answer, but what does it tell us, really? I’m still trying to figure that one out.
I probably will not make any friends with this column, but I think someone needed to say it. As much as that girl was trying to find her way out of the building, we are all trying to find our way to someplace a little better. I have seen people try to find their way through a drunken stupor, but it never quite works out. No, I’ve found in my experience that the best way is maybe just sitting up until 2:30 in the morning with a group of people that understands your ambiguous jokes and listens to every qualm you have, however small it may be.