This past weekend, some of my buddies from college and I went to New Orleans. This has become somewhat of a yearly thing, and New Orleans never disappoints. Whether it is stealing all of your dignity, or all of your money, or maybe just the delicious seafood and daiquiris, something about the city always seems to keep calling us back. This weekend was just like the rest, except for a few small differences. The biggest of these being that I am no longer an undergrad, and can no long shovel Krystal Burger and Hand Grenades into my body at deathly rates without consequence.
At one point in time, I welcomed the adventure of a 3-day bender on possibly the dirtiest street in the world, but now as I look back, my muscles and liver remind me I am no longer up to the task. Here are some of the differences that I have now realized exist between the drinking trip in college and the postgrad drinking trip.
1. The Drive
In my college years, it was a simple 7-hour trek from Austin to New Orleans. The trip usually started midday, and we stocked up on dip, sunflower seeds, and road beers. The hours passed quickly as we debated meaningless topics in sports, and called each other various colorful euphemisms for human male and female organs, or derogatory terms typically reserved for homosexuals. We would stop for gas in Louisiana, and load up on things you can’t find in Texas like Zapps, boudain, and alligator. By the time we rolled into New Orleans, it was typically 7 or 8 o’clock, and after checking into the hotel and changing clothes we would be at Tropical Isle or Pat O’briens in no time, well on our way to enjoying a 35-year-old woman with visible scars dance half naked at Lipstixx. The drive back was always an adventure, as it was usually one big hungover mess. The bright side was that we could all split the drive and take turns sleeping, and we all knew that the next few days could be spent recovering.
The postgrad drive is slightly different. This was a 7 and a half hour drive from Dallas to New Orleans. It was not at noon after I woke up, but was at 4:00pm, and only after begging my boss to let me leave early so I could beat traffic. I was not with friends drinking and laughing, but was with my girlfriend listening to mix tapes she made, and stopping every hour so she could pee. I like the woman, but dear Lord, she has a bladder the size of a thimble. There was no alligator or Zapps, but there was pistachios and stopping someplace for chicken wraps. We eventually made it into New Orleans around midnight, and after checking into the hotel we only stayed on Bourbon St. for about an hour and a half and barely got a buzz. Also, no strippers. The drive back sucked as well, mostly due to the incredible hangover I had that doesn’t go away like it used, but also because I did not have six other guys I could split the drive with. The worst part about the trip back was staring at the clock, and knowing that with each passing minute I would have less time to sleep and recover because work was at 8:00am the next day. From now on, I am flying.
2. The Company
During undergrad, this trip was 6 or 7 guys from my fraternity, and maybe one or two others that wanted to tag along. Just a real nice guy trip. Everything was split between the group, and each person chipped in when they could. We would pair off if different people wanted to go different places, and eventually we would all end up drunk on Bourbon, making fools of ourselves and jumping into hotel pools at 5am (sorry James). Caution was thrown to the wind, and there was no worry of judgment. We had each other’s backs, and by God, we boys were going to get hammered.
The company on this most recent trip was slightly different. As I mentioned, my girlfriend came with me. Now I realize it is somewhat of a sin to bring a girlfriend on a guy trip, but here are two important counterpoints. One: fuck off, I have a girlfriend and wanted to have sex this weekend instead of paying LaQuiesha to shake her tits in my face. Two: I am not “that guy” who brings his girlfriend everywhere, and I knew my friends wouldn’t care if I brought her. Anyway, the whole trip changed with her. We stayed at a much nicer hotel than usual, we ate at much nicer restaurants, there were no strip club visits, and I spent much more money. I had no idea New Orleans had nice areas and didn’t know you could enjoy breakfast there before noon. Now it was not all bad, and there are many perks of bringing the girlfriend on a trip like this. One, you get to have sex…without paying for it. Two, look at number one. Three, I actually enjoyed some of the non-alcoholic parts of New Orleans and was glad I had someone to keep me from losing all my dignity and blacking out every night.
3. The Drinking/The Hangover
The biggest difference is also the most obvious one. In undergrad, literally every hour of every day at least one person in your group is drinking or already drunk. Additionally, restaurant choices generally are made on whether or not you can bring your Hurricane in to the restaurant with you. Day drunk is the norm, and hangovers quickly fade with Advil and some beignets. Drink choices at night change frequently, and double-fisting a beer and daiquiri is not unusual. Shot girls could make their month’s rent when we would walk in, and nothing more than 8 dollars was spent per poisonous drink. There might even be bets taken on which guy in the group would be the drunkest that night, and outrageous occurrences like swimming in public fountains and getting tattoos or piercings were not out of the question.
Postgrad, things change a bit. I ordered real drinks for the most part, and even when I was drinking a daiquiri or hand grenade, it was slowly and only after dinner. Day drinking was never more than a beer, and hangovers lasted well into the following afternoon. I never woke up wondering what I had done the night before, or questioned whether or not I could show my face without being laughed at by my friends. I now laughed at my friends who were outrageously hammered at 11am and secretly envied their lives. I have come to the realization that I can’t drink like I used to, and it is no longer socially acceptable for me to blackout and flash my penis at women on balconies for beads. It was not a fun realization, but overall it is probably better for my health and my wallet.