Wake up. Check social media. Go to work. Be productive for an hour. Read this site for an hour. Be productive. Skim Yahoo News. Go home. Work out. Eat dinner. Watch Netflix. Check social media. Sleep. Repeat x4.
It was Friday morning, and another mundane work week had almost come and gone. He would soon have his 48 hours of freedom, and he would thus have to find activities to fill this time. It seemed like this was becoming more and more of a common occurrence: the same boring work week, followed by the same uneventful weekend. Hoping to break out of the rut he found himself in, he started brainstorming ideas for the weekend.
“Hmm, let me check Facebook to see what’s going on. Oh, there’s a beer festival downtown tomorrow. That’s kind of cool. Giant slip n’ slide up north? Eh, too old for that. Meek Mill’s opening up for Nicki Minaj at the Amphitheatre… Hard pass.”
His initial search started with promise, with multiple events occurring in his city that weekend, but one-by-one he found reasons not to go to them. Then it dawned on him: his school’s NCAA Men’s Basketball team was playing its best ball in years, and would be playing at home against a beatable Duke that Saturday. He hadn’t visited his college town since the beginning of football season, and he knew a couple of stragglers (or MBA students, whatever, we all make mistakes) who still lived there and with whom he could crash. And so it was decided. Once he got off work at 5, he’d head home, pack up, and get on the road.
He arrived in his college town a little after 9 p.m. with an 18 pack of Bud Light and a 750 of Tennessee Honey. He wasn’t entirely sure what the weekend had in store for him. He knew the campus and bars better than anybody else thanks to his five years there, but he wasn’t sure how much had changed since the couple of times he’s visited in two-and-a- half years post-graduation. The gym and library had been renovated, bars had been rebranded and reopened, and the freshmen were now seniors. As long as he had old friends, college hoops, and his favorite bar, none of the changes mattered – he was in for a good weekend.
He promptly tossed beers to his friends, James and Scott, and followed-up this action by pouring a round shots of the Tennessee Honey for the three of them. Being back in his old stomping grounds, he deceived himself into believing that he could automatically pick up where he left off in his ability to consume alcohol. He quickly forgot about how he now starts to feel tipsy after only a handful of drinks, and how only a handful of drinks can lead to a 12 hour hangover the next day. He replaced this knowledge with his memories of shotgunning multiple beers between multiple games of liquor flip cup, just to wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready for a full day of skipping class.
After a couple drinks at James’ apartment, the trio headed to a business school pregame before taking on the bars for the night. There was one keg and two handles of the finest alcohols at the pregame: Natty Light and Skol Vodka. He shuddered at the fact that he’d be drinking piss water and rubbing alcohol, but he took it in stride, as it was part of the whole college experience he so loved during his time in school.
Scott asked him if he wanted to get down on the beer pong table, and remembering how great he used to be at pong, he excitedly replied, “Hell yeah. This shit is my game. Let’s do it.” The two got on the table, and when it was their turn, Scott made his first shot. Shooting second on his team, he missed his first shot of the night, wide right. When he had his next chance, the ball sailed high, and with his third shot, the ball dropped out of the air well before the rack of red cups. “Man, I guess this shit is no longer my game. Oh, well. When are we heading to the Strip?”
With that suggestion, the three were on the move again, this time heading to the main road of bars just a couple of blocks from campus. He had forgotten how nice it was to be able to walk places instead of Uber. Then he remembered how cold the winter was and decided that walking was overrated.
The group arrived at the Strip at 11:30 p.m., enough time for 2.5 more hours of drinks. The three looked around for a couple of minutes, debating which bar looked like it’d be the best time. James and Scott both had friends at Firehouse, so the three of them settled upon it as their bar for the night… or, at least for the next round of drinks.
He walked in, paid no cover, and went straight to the bar to order a whisky ginger.
“That’ll be $3.”
“$3?!” He replied to the bartender.
“What do you expect for a double? For it to be cheaper?”
“$3 for a double?! Damn, I forgot how cheap college is.” He suddenly regretted all of those times he felt broke when he bought $3 doubles while his parents paid his rent and bills. With his yearly income, he was certainly going to live like a king tonight. He decided to also get doubles for James and Scott.
Turning around with the drinks to hand to his friends, he ran into some familiar faces: four guys he had very politely yelled at while they were freshmen pledges were standing next to him. They greeted him enthusiastically and asked him what he’d been up to. He replied that he’d been working for two-and-a-half years and living across the state. He then learned that the guys were all now 22 years old, on the executive board for his organization, and about to graduate with jobs lined up. The baby-faced 18 year olds were now grown men.
With the cheapness of the drinks, and the allure of being back in his college town, he was slamming back alcohol like he had a drinking problem. And, now that he was out of college, it probably did actually qualify as a drinking problem. The drinks started taking their effect on his inhibitions, and soon he found himself talking to a group of young girls.
“So what are you all majoring in?”
“I’m exploratory right now. Not really sure what I want to do with my life, so I’m just going to finish my Gen Ed courses and then figure it out.”
Nothing. Nothing she said to him was relatable, except for the fact that he, too, still wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life.
He couldn’t tell if the conversation wasn’t memorable because it was boring, or if he couldn’t remember the conversation because he was beginning to head into a black hole. The next thing he remembered, he woke up feeling miserable, with his head and stomach battling for which hurt most. He was in for one of those 12 hour hangovers.
He couldn’t tell which he needed to do most: vomit or urinate. Either way, he needed to use the bathroom, but his body hurt too much to get up. Eventually, he couldn’t wait any longer, so he opened his eyes to gain bearing on his surroundings. He, however, had more questions than answers when he opened his eyes.
“Why is half of this bed missing? Wait, why am I sleeping on a bed instead of James’s couch? Wait, is this a twin bed?”
He looked to his left and saw another twin bed with a person sleeping in it. He then proceeded to turn to his right and noticed a girl lying in bed with him. He looked up at the ceiling, over to the two desks, two closets, and sets of clear storage containers and posters of John Mayer, Marilyn Monroe, and “Keep Calm and Carry On.”
He was in a dorm room. He was 26 years old, and he had gone home with a freshman.
This girl probably doesn’t remember watching movies on VHS, probably never had to listen to music on cassette tape, never traded Pokémon cards, played Nintendo, used AIM, or had a MySpace, and he had just penetrated this poor thing. He thought about his next steps: where to go from there and how to pick up the pieces of his life.
Luckily for him, James was awake when he texted him. He sheepishly told James about his situation, and James was more than happy to pick him up, already thinking of ways he could make fun of him.
He got back to James’s apartment a little before 11 a.m. The basketball game was at 7 p.m, but he didn’t care. His hangover was killing him, and he knew he couldn’t go hard two nights in a row. He just wasn’t what he used to be. It was time that he admitted he’s old and can’t hang anymore.
But then he got to thinking about it- really, truly thinking about it. He realized that the different periods of his short life have all had their time and place. College was a great time filled with freedom, cheap drinks, a lack of major commitments, obligations, and responsibilities, and something to always do and someone to always do it with. But professional life wasn’t so bad, either. He appreciated his free time more, drank more expensive drinks, learned to take ownership in his personal duties, advanced his career and enjoyed real independence.
His school’s team beat Duke on Saturday, and he headed home on Sunday, with a new, well-rounded perspective on life, and all it took was banging an 18-year-old freshman..
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