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Media Blackout

September 28, 2018

People have been telling all kinds of stories. Brave stories. Powerful stories. Upsetting stories.

Over the years, I have had close friends tell me in private their encounters with rape and sexual assault. But the volume of stories I’ve heard this week from a much broader network of friends and acquaintances has beens sobering.

I could not bring myself to watch yesterday’s hearing. The very thought of what was going to take place literally made my stomach turn. And as I got bits and pieces of how the testimony was unfolding over social media, it affirmed my decision of a media blackout.

Today seems like a good day to talk about drinking. Apparently it’s National Drink Beer day, which feels a little tone deaf. But whoever decides these things had no idea it was going to fall the day after yesterday’s hearing. Although I don’t blame anyone on either side who feels the need for a drink.

My personal story isn’t nearly as disturbing as those I’ve been hearing lately, but it’s not pretty. Mostly I’m sharing it to demonstrate just how dangerous drinking can be. Even for someone who is generally a responsible and upstanding member of the community.

Okay. Here it goes.

I got blackout drunk once in my freshman year of college. It was not my intent to go out and get wasted. I was being social, and at the time, that meant drinking. It’s not an excuse, but I was young and had no idea of my limits or what might happen if I blew past them.

I still blame the lemon drop shots.

Shut up. Man, those went down easily, and they were brand new to me. Shots were always a thing I had avoided in the past, but these were sweet, tangy, and delicious. Then I went to some fraternity party where there was more to drink, but I couldn’t tell you what. And I have some memory of walking down a flight of stairs to get back home to the quad.

It’s highly disconcerting to have zero memories for a period of time when I was walking around, talking to people, and doing things.

Thankfully, nothing terrible happened, at least as far as I know. Apparently I went so far as to give my dorm room keys to a friend of mine, when I fell asleep on their first floor floor. Because I was still responsible enough to remember if you’re drunk, “hand over your keys”.

It was disorienting waking up in a strange room on the floor, without my keys, and no idea how I got there. But I hadn’t been robbed or injured. My clothes were still on. My wallet was still in my pocket. And despite a throbbing headache, along with a naive certainty I would never touch vodka again, I was fine.

The next week at the cafeteria a girl came up and said hi to me, and I had no idea who she was. I stared at her blankly, trying to place the face, or maybe come up a name. She told me that we had a long conversation at a party over the weekend.

Nothing.

My first thought was that this was a put on. Then I thought she might have confused me for somebody else. But she knew my name.

The only thing I could do was sheepishly apologize for not remembering any it. And in my shame I walked away, leaving her behind at the salad bar.

It still feels gross.

Thankfully, nothing awful happened. I did not hurt anybody. I did not get hurt. But I can’t say nothing happened that I regret. Because I absolutely regret the events of that night. And something awful could have happened. Mostly, I got lucky.

The bottom line here is that social drinking, especially when one is young, even if you are generally a smart and responsible person, can lead to a blackout.

It doesn’t mean I’m an alcoholic. It doesn’t mean I have a problem with alcohol. It doesn’t make me a terrible person. I was young, inexperienced, and made a bad choice. But as an adult, I can own up to it and take responsibility for my actions. And maybe, just maybe, sharing this can help shed a light on the darkness currently on display around us.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 28, 2018 11:06 am

    Thank you for this detailed and instructive narrative!

  2. Lauren Darman permalink
    October 2, 2018 11:50 am

    Thank you for acknowledging your bout – it is scary, and your point is well-noted that it could have been much, much worse if you were female. Perhaps a nomination for the Supreme Court is in the cards….

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  1. 7 and 7 on Saturday, September 29, 2018 – Chuck The Writer

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