I didn’t go to any parties in high school. I wasn’t invited and I wasn’t trying to be. The idea of ingratiating myself with the cool kids seemed exhausting. I knew that the cool kids weren’t special, and so debasing myself to get invited to parties wasn’t a priority. The more popular and perfect the person, the less I was interested in talking to them. They seemed self-interested and vapid people, so I preferred to associate with weirdos or no one at all. It wasn’t sad, I liked this and still prefer it. I’m even less likely now to try and get myself “in” with a popular crowd. If I’m myself, people will take it or leave it – but hopefully leave it.
This is all to say that by the time high school prom came around, I didn’t have many prospects. I had long, stringy hair and the crusty beginnings of a beard, I played guitar in the marching band, and I wore classic rock band t-shirts. Let me first clarify that I played guitar for the marching band, but I didn’t march. I was in the pit on the side as we played selections from Lin Manuel Miranda’s then-current musical, “In the Heights.” I digress. I wasn’t going to prom. Finding a date would be difficult, and I would look absolutely ridiculous in a tux with my frizzy, thin hair. So, I skipped prom and went to Hooters with my best friend, Joe. I’ve said all this before, but this just a bit of a recapitulation for the story to follow.
I skipped prom, but I had friends that went. Those friends planned to go on a trip the day after prom like so many high school seniors do. In New Jersey, most seniors take a trip to Seaside Heights or some other shore town. My friends, however, did something different, and arguably much cooler. They booked a rental house near the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania. Despite my absence from the prom, my friends invited me to the Pocono house for a weekend of drinking and whatnot. An invite? Golly! I happily agreed to go.
Now, because I was largely absent from high school parties and gatherings of the sort – as you can undoubtedly tell by my referring to them as “gatherings” – I hadn’t done much drinking, if any. But, here I was going to rental house where the sole purpose was to get as loopy as one could get, especially with no adults around to shit on us, literally or metaphorically. So, I went. I drove down with Jon, a friend of ours with an enormous shoulder chip but a good heart. He was one of those people who learned to drive and then immediately took to speeding as his main mode of conveyance. Needless to say, the drive there was unnecessarily fast and dangerous.
Once we all arrived and got our things unpacked and organized, we began to drink. This story takes place in 2009, some 11+ years ago, so the details are hazy for a number of reasons. The house had a basement with a bedroom or two and a futon, I think. The futon could be something I fabricated, as could be the number of bedrooms. Normally I’m a reliable narrator because I have a strong memory, but this one escapes me. There was also a laundry room down there where some sex was had, I think, but certainly not by me. Then there was a main floor with a kitchen, living room area, bathroom, and a bedroom or two. The upper floor was a loft overlooking the living room with two bedrooms and a bathroom, I think.
I was staying in a small room on the second floor with another guy, I actually don’t remember who. Jon? Our friend Sean? I don’t recall. Good thing I set out to tell a story I don’t remember. On our second day there, maybe, I was outside on the deck drinking beer with Jon. I hated beer then and I hate it now. I really cannot stand the taste. And in fact, even when someone recommends a supposedly high-quality beer, I think it tastes worse. I’m a hard liquor, gin and tonic, margarita, Manhattan, old fashioned, and red wine kind of guy. Regardless, I was drinking beers on the deck like I’ve been told men do.
I was snacking on Crunch Berries, a delicious, colorful, and horribly sharp cereal while drinking outside with Jon. We kept drinking, and the more I drank, the easier the beer was to get down. I believe we drank – scratch that, I don’t know how much Jon drank because he seemed fine – I drank eight or nine cans of some shitty beer over a short period of time. I was silly, slurry, and loving life, at least for a short time. Crunch Berry box in hand, I ceased sloppily shoveling them into my mouth and began to crush them on the table. I would jovially announce that I was going to snort a blue one, and then a green one, noting the difference in taste. Mind you, prior to this I hadn’t had a drink or done any drugs whatsoever. So, I snorted quite a few Crunch Berries, identifying the blue Crunch Berries as my favorite. Shortly thereafter, I became ill. My friends helped me to my bedroom to lay down. Laying down proved difficult, the room was spinning. I felt myself getting sick, so I ran to the bathroom. I discretely threw up – at least to my recollection I was discrete – cleaned up my mess, used my friend Megan’s mouthwash which became a point of contention later, went to bed, and passed out for several hours. In my defense, the mouthwash was given to me by an attendant friend, I didn’t just take it. Sorry, Megan.
I awoke several hours later feeling unusual, but ultimately OK. I remind you that this happened in the afternoon, so I woke up around dinner. My reemergence from my room was treated as though I survived a car crash. The room fell silent as I entered, everyone eagerly awaiting my first words. Wanting to prove my resilience, I did a piss-poor Sean Connery impression. Cue uproarious laughter and declarations that I was the greatest man ever to live. That last sentence might be false. I asked why when I blew my nose it came out blue and was promptly told of my afternoon shenanigans. Anyway, I kept my drinking under control from then on, and smoked weed for the first time either that night or the next night.
Now I’m 29 and I still smirk when I see Crunch Berries. I also don’t drink to the point of snorting breakfast anymore. Crunch Berries don’t go there. Our high school years are definitely our dumbest.