Date: Sun, 30 Dec 2001
Subject: Missing: One sense of personal responsibility
I had my first-ever horribly bad, totally out of control drunken experience the other night.
It started around 5:00 on Friday when my housemate The English, his girlfriend The Canadian and I went to the Yakitori Dojo, where we met Turtle and Spec, both former Nova teachers, for dinner and drinks. Since yakitori involves ordering round after round of small dishes, it was a simple matter to order accompanying rounds upon rounds of sake, which is particularly strong Japanese wine. By the time we left the place, we were all in rough shape with the exception of The Canadian, who doesn't drink much. Specs and I had spoken extensively about his work and his training in kung-fu, and we got along rather well. I tried to wrestle with Turtle outside the restaurant, but he's significantly bulkier and stronger than I am, so he easily pinned me to the ground. After that we decided it would be a great idea to buy a small tankard of stuff that is best described as a 25%-alcohol version of vodka and continue the festivities at my place.
We got back to our place around 8:00 and woke up Mr. Brown, who'd been feeling too ill to come out with us earlier. We broke out the juice and things quickly degraded. Specs and I went out to the station to meet two girls he’d invited, and I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but he and I quickly devolved into a drunken battle of wills over one of them, ending with the two of us glaring at one another as he cuddled with her in the laundry room. I gradually got the hint that she liked him better than me, so despite my mounting irritation, I slinked off and followed Mr. Brown's suggestion that I go to bed.
The exact sequence of the remaining events is a little out of joint for me, but they go something like this: given that it was rather noisy, I had trouble sleeping. I opened the door on one occasion to find Specs and the girl sitting outside it, and I took rather poorly to that. On top of that, Turtle kept coming into my room and kicking me in the groin while I was trying to sleep. I took this with surprisingly bemused detachment since, for some reason, it didn't hurt very much. I think he kept missing the vital areas. I was in and out of my room a few times in response to these various stimuli, and the other girl kept giving me water at my request, which was very kind of her. However, the last time Turtle kicked me I came out and looked for my bamboo sword, which I eventually found with much stumbling, and I mockingly threatened him with it. Mr. Brown took poorly to this idea and he quickly had me put the sword away and went back to bed. I recall a general sensation of childish competition and one-upmanship between myself, Turtle and Specs. All I remember from that point is aggressively opening the door as everyone seemed to be leaving and having it quickly closed again by Mr. Brown. Then I went to sleep.
The next morning I woke up completely lacking a hangover, which was both a blessing and a curse since I could thus clearly remember my actions the night before and focus on what an irresponsible asshole I was. I was also angry at myself for butting heads with Specs, who seemed like quite a decent guy, all else aside. When I saw Mr. Brown I apologized for having been obnoxious and reluctantly thanked him for being the cool head the night before. He told me that we needed to have a talk later. I figured I deserved whatever I had coming.
Then I went out for an awkward daytime quasi-date. On the way back, I spotted my housemates and The Canadian riding by on their bikes. I waved to them, but only Mr. Brown seemed to notice.
The next morning, Specs sent me a phone-mail asking me to forget about what had happened Friday night. I said it was no problem, and I was surprised that he'd taken it so seriously. Then I asked him if I could borrow some software.
After that I started cleaning our kitchen while Mr. Brown read a book at the table. After a while, he decided that it was time for our "talk". It started something like this:
Mr. Brown: "Uh, Mike, just how much of Friday night do you remember?"
Me: "About 98%"
Mr. Brown: "So you realize you owe The Canadian a massive apology."
Me: "The Canadian? Why?"
This was a bit of a shock. I'd figured this was going to be about me and Specs. What had I done to The Canadian? Perhaps I'd hit her with my sword when I took it out. It was possible; I've been known to be a little careless with the flailing of my limbs, but it couldn't have hurt much since it was just bamboo.
I quickly discovered that the 2% I'd forgotten was rather significant.
Apparently, I'd been groping The Canadian's thigh while explaining to everyone that I was a white knight who would leap to any woman's defence in times of trouble.
I really didn't know what to say. I looked at this revelation from an academic standpoint: it sounded like my kind of holier-than-thou bombast, and given my advances on the girl Specs had invited I'd clearly been in an amorous mood, but I just got the impression that he had to have been making it up, extrapolating from what he knew about me. Ever since I'd learned that The Canadian had a boyfriend—my incredibly kind housemate, no less—she had been off-limits in my mind. That was actually part of why I liked hanging out with her and The English—I didn't have to worry about any stupid boy-girl tension since they were so clearly and unshakably together. But her THIGH? I'd given a friend an overly-affectionate drunken foot massage on one occasion—over which I'd felt incredibly stupid and guilty—but this was a little further than I'd ever gone. Maybe Mr. Brown had gotten the wrong impression. I didn't even remember sitting where he told me I'd been sitting at the time.
Me: "Um... did everyone see this?"
Mr. Brown: "Well, I did, and there's The Canadian of course, and a few others in the room."
I declined to ask for any more clarifying details. I was pretty sure he knew what he was talking about. I thought about it some more and decided that Mr. Brown probably couldn't extrapolate about me that well anyway, and had no reason to do so, so I encountered the new conundrum of trying to accept responsibility for something I didn't know I'd even done.
But wait: there was more.
Apparently, Specs and I had nearly come to blows.
I had told him something to the effect of, "I'm stronger than you, and the girl is mine, so I'll beat the shit out of you if try anything with her."
I've thrown one real punch in my life. It bounced.
Turtle had apparently been kicking me in the balls partly because he's just obnoxious and partly because he'd been sticking up for his buddy; he was trying to get in on the action as I faced off with Specs. Did I mention Turtle could pin me with no trouble at all? Did I mention Specs was a broad-shouldered 6’3” and studied kung-fu? Did I mention that I'm very lucky that everyone calmed them down in a hurry while Mr. Brown shuttled me back to my room?
This explained a lot.
I quickly phone-mailed Specs again and set the record straight, this time knowing what he was talking about. Then I headed upstairs to talk to The English and The Canadian. I knocked on the door fully expecting to be rightfully beheaded when I stepped inside.
The Canadian surprised me by greeting me with a smile.
The English and The Canadian are either the most understanding and forgiving people on earth or they're consummate liars. They both quickly shrugged everything off with the words, "Well, everyone was pretty drunk," and The Canadian stated simply that it's because of this sort of problem that she doesn't usually drink much. I even told them I thought they'd ignored me on their bikes the other day because they'd been angry at me, but they said they honestly hadn't seen me.
We talked for a while and they filled me in on some more details, along with the inevitable tales of broken glasses and spills galore, including my own, which I half-recalled. We'd finished off the entire tankard of vodka-like stuff, and I might have been more involved in that effort than I'd thought since Turtle had been refusing to serve anything but alcohol to anyone. Mr. Brown had basically told everyone that the party was over after my inebriated standoff, and Turtle had actually tried to rush into my room and beat me up before he left, but The Canadian had stood in my doorway and convinced him to give it up. For his part, The English only vaguely recalled that he'd threatened to break my face when he heard what I'd done to his girlfriend, and I told him he would have been fully within his rights to have done so.
It was funny: I tried to be sombre and contrite, but the two of them were so nice we could only recount stories and laugh about it.