Bad decisions: a retrospective
April 20, 2010

The details from Saturday night are starting to float back to me, thanks to helpful reminders like my Pandora station (“Did I dance to that Black-Eyed Peas song with Lauren’s dad?”), that massive bruise on my thigh, and Dave’s 13-year-old brother’s curiosity (direct quote: “Why was Rachel so wasted?”)

It used to be a familiar occurrence, the learning about the things you did last weekend days after you actually did them. In fact, the Blabbermouth you know and love is the product of a vast history of alcohol-fueled disasters, most of which, of course, were simply known as Weekends at the time. Do you remember me back then? (Crowd nods heads, rolls eyes.) I wasn’t the easiest college roommate/spring break travel buddy/high school best friend to put up with. I was…how do I say this?…pretty much a drunken slut.

I honestly don’t regret any of it – the rough nights, the fun nights, the one-night-stands, the vomit. OK, maybe the vomit. That was gross.

I also don’t regret that I’m a little different now – calmer, more secure, more sober. Different things are right for people at different times, and the lifestyle that came naturally for me at 21 isn’t necessarily a good fit for me at 25. It helped me learn a few lessons and meet a few people, but I’m pretty sure it’s served its purpose now. And one can’t subsist on Big Azz margaritas alone forever, you know.

Except, sometimes, I’ll admit, I have those moments where I miss it a little bit. It’s hard to separate the nostalgia for my days of sex, drugs and Kenn Kweder from my nostalgia for college itself, since the two were so intertwined, but suffice it to say: I liked living with a gaggle of girls. I liked staying up all night. And those cheese fries always tasted delicious at 3 a.m.

As luck would have it, I still appear to be perfectly capable of getting drunk and making bad decisions (see: Saturday night.) In fact, you all were such a rapt audience for this past weekend’s debauchery that I considered doing it all over again tonight, minus the bar mitzvah part (just the alcohol and embarrassment, seeing as it’s a Tuesday.) Then I remembered a- I’m a Reponsible Working Person now, one who has to catch the 7:30 a.m. train to Wilmington tomorrow, and b- I already have tons of amazing stories in my arsenal.

So I was thinking that in honor of Spring Fling – which, yes, coincidentally was last weekend – I would take a little trip down memory lane and share a few tales from my personal archives of shame with you. (Mom, you can stop reading now.) If nothing else, they’ll probably make you feel better about yourself. Consider it a little Tuesday pick-me-up, from me to you.

Christine’s graduation camp-out sleepover, 2003: Kids, thank god there aren’t pictures of this on the Internet (note: if this is not true, please don’t tell me, I’d like to keep living in this bubble. Thanks.) I was 18-years old, thought I was hot shit, and somehow sought to reenact the drama of Dawson’s Creek, season 3, with a few weird twists. To this end, I a-chugged the better part of a handle of cheap vodka, no doubt smuggled in from Bridgeport b- joined a group of boys in baking a tent we had borrowed from our calculus teacher and c-told my boyfriend I was actually in love with a close family friend. (I wasn’t.)

The evening soon evolved into a massive disaster that seriously puts Saturday night to shame. And the kicker is that my graduation brunch – complete with catering and white tent – was the next morning. I don’t know what was more of a tragedy – the fact that my boyfriend, boyfriend’s mother and totally unsuspecting family friend all showed up at the same time or the fact that I was too nauseous to enjoy the fruits of my own omelette man. Sad.

Spring Fling, 2005: Believe it or not, this was actually the  first time Dave and I met. (It still counts if one of us was passed out at the time, right?) After chasing an unknown number of Bankers Club rum shots with Bankers Club vodka shots, I was extremely intoxicated and decided it was a good time to, um, escort my friend Mike back to his room in the quad.

After a sexual experience that was wrong on so many levels (not the least of which being he had already hooked up with about 60% of my friends), I immediately run to the bathroom, where I proceed to pass out on the floor. Cue the entrance of Mike’s roommate, our very own David Matthew. Apparently Mike is still in his boxers, pretty distraught over the fact that he just hooked up with his good friend, who’s now marooned on his bathroom floor. While Mike calls my three best friends to come pick me up, Dave comes up with the fabulous idea to feed me the Passover leftovers his mom had dropped off a few days before. I believe the line was: “Give her the Matzah, man.” (Thanks Mrs. B!) Not only did I survive, the whole ordeal also precipitated The Greatest Photo Ever.

My princess-themed 21st birthday party, 2006: Sparkly tiara + feather boa + pink franzia = a recipe for disaster. That’s really all you need to know. That, and my college house was a shit show.

Alissa’s wedding, 2007: My friend Courtney had been trying to set me up with one of her sister’s friends from college for years, so when said sister got married, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. When the plan actually started falling into place – I sat next to him, we flirted, he graciously offered to grab my tequila sunrise from the open bar – I did what any sensible college senior would do: got extremely intoxicated. In my defense, it wasn’t really on purpose: this was back when I thought champagne didn’t actually count as a drink. Apparently, I was wrong.

Rest assured, I eventually did seal the deal, conquering that hookup goal three months later. (Hint: he played the entire Justin Timberlake cd. And already had a spare contact case waiting for me at his apartment.) But that night it was not to be: I had to be forcibly removed from the after party and brought back to our hotel room at the Ritz, where I hear things went downhill fast. In fact, a few weeks ago, when Bridget and I were discussing possible, theoretical venues for my possible, theoretical nuptuals, currently scheduled for 2060, I insisted that my heart was set on the Ritz in Philadelphia. Bridget’s response? “You don’t get married in the Ritz. You throw up in the Ritz.” Touche, Gidge. Touche.

Senior formal, 2007: See that picture on my about page? The girl in the pink dress popping open a bottle of champagne amid her encouraging friends? Yeah, twelve hours later, that girl was wandering home from a local frat house, sans knowledge of a-what happened the night before and b, most importantly – what happened to the cream-colored satin stilettos she certainly had on her feet upon leaving her house for the downtown venue. She would never see those heels again — though she would eventually find out what transpired in those lost, blacked-out hours. But that’s a dirtier story for a different time.

Admit it – don’t you feel like a better, more capable human being now? You’re welcome.

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Cringe
April 7, 2010

A cute little blonde by the name of Bridget is one of my oldest friends, and whenever we get together – or even just converse on gchat for more than a few minutes – the conversation inevitably touches on the past, on the shared experiences that only two people who grew up together can have.

And by that I mean she makes fun of me for all the ridiculous shit I have pulled over my lifetime thus far.

Yesterday was no exception. Before the clock had even hit 10 a.m. (generally the time of my second breakfast), she was bringing up our high school yearbook shout-outs. Because yes, she apparently has mine memorized. And listens to a Pandora station that features John Mayer (who’s the loser now?)

The blurb written by 17-year-old me started off with this quote:

“Still ‘everything happens for a reason’ is no reason not to ask yourself, are you living it right?”

Which, yeah, is pretty lame. In my defense, this was way before John Mayer became the embarrassing douchebag he is today. At that point, he was mainly just a kid from my hometown who had recently graduated from playing at local bars for a bunch of sweaty, underage kids to playing at mid-sized auditoriums for a bunch of sweaty underage kids (Hartford Civic Center, anyone?)

So, especially in that context, the quote might have been excusable. “Everything happens for a reason,” blah blah blah – I was never one of those “footprints in our hearts” people, but c’mon, it’s a high school yearbook. You kind of have to veer more towards the sappy than the sarcastic, right?

The real problem is what comes after the quote. And I’m only telling you this because we’re among friends, ok?

“Still ‘everything happens for a reason’ is no reason not to ask yourself, are you living it right?” We are.

There’s just something about those two little words that totally kills me now, looking back on it. Like, someone should slap that girl in the face. And take away her headphones. Who exactly did I think I was? Was I really that cool and introspective and worldly?

In a word, no. Not at all. But I was pretty cute.

Ignore those elbow-length black gloves, feather boas and how I had to awkwardly crop my Dad out of that last pic. I was adorable, right? Maybe I’m confusing that tan I earned at crew practice with some sort of a youthful glow, but to me, (the 25-year old me), that 17-year old kid just looks so…happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I went through some really rough periods in high school, rife with depression and eating disorders and a general distaste for the world.  And, on a day to day basis, I was usually stressed out (hence my designation as Most Stressed Senior, also featured prominently in our yearbook.) But that’s the funny thing about being young – your feelings are so distilled, so pure and potent, but also so malleable. You can feel insecure one minute, invincible the next. Drama and fear and anxiety are so often laced with optimism. Because you don’t know any better. Because you have everything ahead of you. There’s kist nothing like the juxtaposition of all those crazy hormone-infused emotions.

Looking back at those photos, I can tell you this much: I felt cool. I felt …I really don’t know how to explain this, except to use a word so lame it rivals my awful senior write-up…I felt alive. I would go on to make a lot of mistakes and do and say many really embarrassing and regrettable things, all of which Bridget would later be able to bring up during our morning conversations. But back then, I wasn’t looking that far ahead. I was totally and utterly swept up in the moment.

A warning to high school seniors
December 26, 2009

It seems like a good idea. He’s cute, and smart, and, by high school standards, good in bed (by bed, of course, you mean the couch in his parents’ basement.) You like each other. A lot. He gives you a sterling silver Tiffany necklace for your one-year anniversary. If that doesn’t say “serious relationship,” what does? What’s the point in breaking up with a boy like that?

So you go to college with a boyfriend, even though everyone tells you not to. Within a week, you decide you want to make out with a boy with a Southern accent (they definitely didn’t have those in New England.)

You break up, you get back together. You pay an obscene amount of money for a fall break flight to a middle-of-nowhere college town. You drink too much. You break up, get back together. You get mono. He gets mono. During finals. You fight.

You break up, for real this time. Except you’re still hooking up. Constantly. It’s messy, clearly unhealthy. You know this. But you can’t stop.

You can’t stop for two and a half years – through a moderately legitimate relationship with a metrosexual-bordering-on-homosexual sophomore, through a transatlantic trip to visit his study abroad destination, through a summer in New York. Until finally – finally! – you cut him out of your life. Oddly enough, this happens to coincide with him finding a new girlfriend. She’s the opposite of you: Christian, Republican, Southern. You’re a wreck.

You can’t possibly imagine that things will get better. You swear to your friends that he’s the best you’ll ever find, that even though he made you miserable, it’s better than being alone.

As it turns out, you’re wrong. Things do get better. You meet someone. He’s a much better fit, and, though your 18-year-old self couldn’t possibly fathom it, much better in bed. (An actual, full-size bed.)

You’re happy – the kind of happy where you don’t have to fake it at all. You rarely think about him, The First Boyfriend, The High School Wonder. You skip over all the Tori Amos and over-dramatic Guster on your ipod, which is really a shame, because that shit was good. But you have no need for it.

At least, that’s how things go for about 360 days a year. January through October, everything is fine. Until the trip home for Thanksgiving. Headphones blaring on the northbound Amtrak regional, you once again find yourself creating music videos in your head (starring you, naturally), outlining your ultimate revenge against the ex-boyfriend you hadn’t thought about in months. Instead of the fantasies that generally accompany your new, healthy, happy self – what if the live-in boyfriend and I got a puppy? what if he could afford a 2-carat ring?- you’re reverting back to old behaviors. You put “2 Points for Honesty” on repeat, close your eyes, and picture yourself (thinner, prettier, in a better outfit than usual) bumping into the ex, nonchalantly mentioning how great your life is, kicking him in the balls.

What, in god’s name, is going on here?

This is the part no one told you about. Your friends, your therapist – everyone who said that time heals all wounds- they forgot to mention what happens when you return to your hometown for the holidays. It doesn’t matter how over him you are, how much you’ve moved on or how far away you’ve moved. There’s something about driving down the same streets you used to cruise in his Jeep, going to the same restaurants he used to take you to on Friday nights, that just momentarily reverts you to being 18 again. You scan every single place you go – CVS on main street, fish store his mother used to shop at – for him. You refuse to leave the house without lipgloss.

It’s a temporary phenomenon, and by the time the turkey is eaten and the presents opened, you’re back on your way to your new city, new life, new boyfriend with no damage done. It’s been three years and you’ve yet to run into him. But it’s taxing. It stirs up anger, anxiety, embarassment you forgot still lingered inside you. It impedes upon your ability to affectively bargain hunt on Black Friday. And even though you know that your high school relationship taught you a lot about what you want and don’t want in a partner, even though you know it helped you grow up and develop into the person you are, still, you think: maybe it would have been easier if I just gave back the Tiffany necklace and went to college with no strings attached.