Jay Hewitt got drunk, acted foolish, and threw up. And it was one of the smartest things he’s ever done.
Despite attending the University of Connecticut, the home of drinking oneself to death, I avoided alcohol at all costs. I was, and still like to think that I am, an anti-conformist. I thought that because my friends would go and get drunk every weekend, “Tequila Tuesday,” and “Whiskey Wednesday,” that they were mindless zombies giving into the conformity of Jack Daniels and would lose their selves. My girlfriend Kelly and I swore that we were having more fun by not puking in our own shoes, but instead watching a movie that we’ve already seen sixty times.
Besides my family vacation to Cancun (where the term “virgin daiquiri” means nothing), my first experience with alcohol came a few months after my 21st. Yes, I held onto my rebellious ways of sobriety even after it became legal for me to drink. Kelly and I had gotten into a fight. When I came back to my dorm, there were three shot glasses on my roommate Brian’s desk arranged like a drunk driver’s depiction of a straight line. It had to be like a band-aid. Without thinking I took all three shots in a matter of seconds. Brian turned pink with laughter looking at my face.
“What the hell did I just drink?”
“Dude… don’t you want a chaser?”
Still giddy with laughter and excitement that he finally got to see his friend of ten years turn to the dark side, he drunkenly handed me a bottle of Gatorade. It tasted horrible.
“What flavor Gatorade is this? It sucks.”
“It’s fruit punch. Oh and I put some vodka in it. We gettin’ drunk tonight! And we hittin’ up them bars, too.”
“Do I have to?”
His logic was undisputable.
“Because Jay… YOLO.”
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the acronym, it stands for “You only live once.” I told him that I believed in reincarnation.
YOLO has become the anti-conformists kryptonite. And be warned, because usually attached to this phrase are a slew of bad ideas.
I went with it. The night proceeded in a blur. After each clink of the shot glasses (and half of it spilling onto the carpet), I drifted more and more out of my anti-conformist shell and into a world of slurred words and hugging. I forgot exactly how much I drank, but after what must have been the longest urination of my life, Kelly called me to apologize for the fight.
“Jay? … Are you drunk right now?”
It was the first time my lies smelled of cheap rum and vodka.
I never knew this before, but apparently when you are drunk you become very easily convinced.
“Dude, Jay—you are so drunk right now you’re singing.”
“What are you talking about? I sing all the time!”
Every Friday UCONN hosts a karaoke night in their student union. With the exception of a student known as “Lil Brit,” notorious on campus as “that white girl who does the rap songs,” nobody else dared to go up and sing… except for me, of course, with a little encouragement from a very persuasive man named Captain Morgan. The microphone was placed into my clammy, sweaty, shaking hand, the flute began to play its intoxicating, high pitched melody, and before I knew it Celine Dion began to blast through the speakers. And I began:
“MY DREAMS! I SEE YOU, I FEEEEEEEEEELLLLLL YOUUUUU! THAAAAT IS HOW I KNOW YOU GOOO ONNNN!”
And with my eyes closed tight I envisioned Rose jumping off of her lifeboat as the ravishing Jack Dawson cried out “You’re so stupid, Rose! You’re so stupid!”
I opened my eyes. Kelly was sitting next to Brian and five of my other friends they must have sent a mass emergency text to. She is smiling, and I realize with drunken clarity how much I truly love her. My right arm is lifted high into the air and is slowly swaying back and forth as if I were holding a lighter. The crowd was cheering me on, either because I nailed it or because I was obviously drunk, and they were all waving their arms right along with me. And for a moment, we were all holding hands together on that sinking ship and I could hear myself shouting to Kelly, “This is crazy!” and her responding “YOLO!”
After I finished serenading the crowd, I dedicated my performance to Brian (which Kelly is still yelling at me for) and I walked off into my cheering fans towards my friends. Random people who I did not even know were hugging me and giving me high fives and in the distance I could hear people yelling, “I’ll never let go!” When I got to Kelly, she kissed me. Brian massaged my shoulders like I had just gone twelve rounds.
Staggering back to my room, I realized that nobody died. I didn’t get a DUI, I didn’t become an alcoholic, and I didn’t even puke in my own shoes—no, all the vomit went safely into a plastic bag. I had finally conformed. That night with Brian and Kelly and Captain Morgan is still one of the best nights of my life. So what the hell, I decided. I’m an adult now. Take that occasional shot and mix that ginger ale with some whiskey, you crazy adults of legal drinking age. Enjoy life. Because Y.O.L.O.
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