Recently, I moved from my hometown where I had attended both high school and college to the amazing city of Chicago. I left behind all of my best friends, every single one of my high school buddies and fraternity brothers. These are the guys that I had called and lied to about how awesome losing my virginity was, and the guys that helped convince cops to uncuff me on three separate occasions. They had celebrated with me when we barely made it through pledging and consoled me when I thought I was going to be a father at the tender age of 19 (fuck you, First Response and your false positives, you’re directly to blame for the hit my liver took that week). Understandably, I was nervous to move to a city where I didn’t know anyone within a hundred miles, but I was confident I would find friends soon enough. As it turns out, I got lucky and ended up being roommates with an awesome guy who adopted me into his group of friends like a stray, binge-drinking puppy.
I hung out with this group several times over the first month of living here, and it was a pretty seamless transition. We agreed on which bars we liked, what lines we could cross when talking shit to each other, and how stupid it was that I had a long distance girlfriend. So all the important things. Everything was going well, and I would definitely consider these guys my friends, but something was missing. I knew I wasn’t going to immediately reach the friendship level of guys I had played high school sports with or pledged alongside, but still I wasn’t completely up to the notch of “good friends” yet. If you’re wondering what the difference is, a friend will jump in a brawl and help you if he knows you were in the right. A good friend will jump in the brawl, knowing full well you started it for no good reason and back you up anyway. He may later take a few shots at you and talk shit to you for being a dumbass, but he’ll have your back when you need it.
Anyway, after mulling it over for a few days, I realized what was missing — I had never gotten hammered with this group of friends. We had all had a good buzz together, but never had one of those nights that everyone has to meet up for brunch just to piece together what happened/see if they need to apologize to anyone. I’m sure there are better, more constructive forms of male bonding, but I haven’t experienced one that works with the quickness and effectiveness of blacking out together.
Luckily, the next weekend was one of their birthdays, and by Wednesday, we could all sense the shitstorm brewing. We started off the night with aggressive shots at a BYOB sushi place, much to the chagrin of the owners. When they stated you could “bring your own booze,” they probably assumed people would bring a nice bottle of wine, not several fifths of Tito’s “Memory Eraser” Vodka. We left dinner already belligerent and headed to the douchiest club in the entire River North district. More shots were taken, girls were shamelessly hit on, and we treated the club to the finest display of white guy dancing it had ever seen.
I don’t have a lot of distinct memories from the rest of the night, but I woke up fully clothed on my bed, which was broken into several pieces. This was not an Ikea bed, but an actual grown up piece of furniture that I had purchased less than a month prior. I groggily grabbed my phone, desperate to find out what happened while eating over priced pancakes on a patio, and I saw way more texts than expected. I read the first one, and immediately knew my theory had proven true. “Yo Nick we added you into the group chat, you degenerate. We’re getting brunch in 30 minutes. I don’t care how hungover you are.”
That was the final push the friendship needed. Today I’m happy to call those assholes my good friends, and I even got invited to one of their weddings this spring, which will without a doubt be a decision the happy couple will regret.
So to all those wondering how to really get integrated into a new group of friends, or get your tight-knit crew to accept a friend of yours, just get hammered drunk with them. Granted, I don’t know if this pertains to all age groups. From what I can glean, male bonding in your later years consists of hanging out naked in a gym sauna all afternoon making everyone uncomfortable, so I’m going to stick with my technique. All I know is reaching a level of extreme inebriation with a group requires a certain amount of trust that no one is going to fuck the group over, and once that trust is established, friendships grow stronger. No wonder I still managed to get an A- on my psych final in college after an aggressive happy hour; I’m a natural at this.
Oh, and we never found out why my bed was broken. I offhandedly told my mom about it months later and she said, and I quote (because I will never be able to get this memory out of my head until the day I die), “Maybe you took home a plus sized girl? I hear guys like them ‘thick’ nowadays.” And she wonders why I drink. .
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