This story is brought to you by FLASH (NON)FICTION CHALLENGE: TELL A STORY FROM YOUR LIFE at Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds. When I was younger, I used to be a bit of a drinker. This story, along with many others, is part of the reason why I’ve been sober for almost two years. –FY
Nothing says St Patrick’s day like a Dropkick Murphys show. A whole minivan’s worth of my friends scraped together enough money for tickets and enough money for a few bottles of liquor, but not enough to pay the outrages prices at the venue bar.
Nothing says St Patrick’s day like a bottle of Jameson, a bottle of Bailey’s, and a twelve pack of Guinness. When combined, they make one of two offensively named drinks, either the Irish Car Bomb, or the Belfast Bomber. Cultural sensitivity didn’t prevent me from downing three Car Bombs and four Bombers in the space of half an hour.
Somewhere around my fifth shot, I decided to play it smart. Outdoor shows mean smoking, smoking means dried contacts, dried out contacts mean pain. Glasses would just fall off my face and wind up broken on the ground. Smart meant blind. I could see well enough to tell a dog from a person, but that was about it.
By the time we drove to the venue, time dilation kicked in. We might have been in that minivan for fifteen minuted, or maybe fifteen hours, and I wouldn’t have known the difference if not for the glacial pace of the setting sun.
Somehow, I played sober enough to make it past the bouncers. We’ve stood through most of the first opening act when it dawns on me that I’ve consumed a large amount of liquid and my body is ready to be rid of it. This normally simple task is hindered by the fact that I can’t see and I’m wasted.
My friend LaRue offers to act as my guide for the long trek. I’ve since been to this venue sober and it’s less than one hundred yards across, but that night I walked over a mile to stand in line with the other concert goers that found themselves in the same state of needing relief.
Dusk fades about the time I make it to my large plastic stall. I break the seal. I drain the lizard. I do the euphemism of your choice for taking a long, satisfying piss. Reborn a new man, I emerge to darkness with nary a familiar face blur to be found.
I quickly realize I don’t have the attention span to wait him out, so I play a new game with the people around me called “Have you seen LaRue?”. Needless to say, no one was wining and I finally realized that stumbling around saying “I’m drunk, I’m blind, I can’t find my friend.” might not be leaving the best impression, especially with the guys in the bright Security shirts.
Time dilation starts fucking with me hardcore. Days pass, weeks pass, years of uninterrupted darkness. The first opener finishes their set and the second goes on stage. I’ve started mumbling “Seen LaRue?” and wandering off before the inevitable negative response or promise to keep an eye out for a stranger.
I turn, finding myself a few feet away from a hulking shadow.
A pause. The shadow tilts its head. “Can one really see oneself? Without a mirror, I mean.”
Apparently he’d been puking for the last long while in a port-a-potty. I couldn’t be mad, not when he self inflicted that kind of punishment.
We reunited with the rest of the group just before the headliner took the stage and we dispersed into the crowd. Before long I realized I didn’t actually know many of the Dropkick Murphys’ songs. Just one. Barroom Hero. Each song that came and went that wasn’t mine irritated me a little more. Still I pressed forward, every once in a while throwing an elbow to get deeper into the press of bodies.
Even at night, even in March, this was still Texas. Heat rolled off the ground. Heat rolled off the bodies sandwiched together. I hadn’t had a drop of water in hours. Lightheaded and wasted can be pretty similar, and it’s hard to notice you’re blacking out when the world’s a blur. I pitched forward, but the guy in front of me slammed me backwards into group of people that pressed me forward again. Tossed back and forth, like flotsam in a typhoon. Darkness.
I came to with stars overhead and a hand on each ass cheek. And a few hands on my shoulders, my back, and my legs. The dull roar of music still filled the air. I was crowdsurfing. They set me down where the crowd starts to thing, twenty yards or twenty miles from the stage.
Bravely, stupidly, I rejoin the press, fighting to get back to my original position before my song. Three rows from the stage, the heat overwhelms me and I find myself falling forward again, certain I’m going to die trampled under a legion of steel-toed boots.
Darkness. Cool air. Grasping hands. Crowdsurfing again. Two of my friends, having fought their way to me, grab my arms and drag me, meekly protesting, out of the venue. They’ve watched me fall twice, I’m not getting a third chance.
The band doesn’t play Barroom Hero until the second encore, while I’m staring down a slice of pepperoni pizza. I faintly hear it from the curb outside the venue. Darkness builds at the edge of my vison. I pitch forward, one last blackout before we head home for the night.
Nothing says St Patrick’s day like passing out face first in your food, missing the one song you actually came to see.