Thursday, May 11, 2006

teach your tongue new tricks

This is a second-attempt at a Rashomon experience deep in the past of Angry Dissenter and myself. After reading my version, you can go read his version and be amused at how we recall a certain moment in our past.

It would seem that this story requires a brief history as to how I even know Angry Dissenter. He and I met during his first semester at Middle Tennessee State University at a Debate Team interest meeting. Sure, that sounds boring, but I was beginning my second year and looking for an outlet that did not involve marching band, which is another story altogether.

There were always random flyers about campus, but in my search to find a non-greek activity, two flyers really caught my eye. The first had a collage of people making all kinds of faces, and it said "Teach Your Tongue New Tricks, MTSU Debate." The second had a globe and said "See the Country; Change the World, MTSU Debate." Neat slogans and the promise of appetizers led me to the Boutwell Dramatic Arts building. I had always been good at arguing with people, and I figured that debating was about the same thing; it couldn't be that hard.

In some ways I was right, but the debate community was not one where I was comfortable. I wanted the sport and fun of the process, whereas the coach wanted us to bring home trophys. His faux pro-education attitude doubled with his anger and yelling about lost rounds, about nothing being more important than the WIN was enough of an impact turn for me to look further for an extracurricular activity after my first year in MTSU debate. Angry Dissenter and I were never partners during that time, but we enjoied each other's company on the long van rides to various college campuses all over the country. We also played lots of Spades.

The Hater transferred to MTSU and joined the Debate Team the semester after I officially quit. At one point he and Angry Dissenter were partners. They ended up being dorm-roomates until they graduated, but even then Angry Dissenter has always boasted that he's known each of us longer than we have known each other.

Figuratively speaking, debate became the cornerstone for our friendship. In retrospect this is amusing only because of the multi-tiered drama that is inevitable to that community. Before we left MTSU we would frequently refer to Aimee Mann's song, Momentum , in comparison to the thing that we all grew to despise, despite that it was the first element we all had in common.

The Hater and Angry Dissenter also properly introduced me to the world of scary movies. Before the three of us starting hanging out I never watched them. They desensitized me to the gore and led me into the worlderful world of zombie movies. There were two non-chained video stores in town, and I'm pretty sure we watched almost all of their horror sections before the boys graduated. In addition to the wonderful world of zombies, they also led my formal introduction to liquor and mixed drinks. We would rent crazy movies like Phantasm and drink on the weekends when they didn't have debate tournaments.

Angry Dissenter and I were both lightweights. We would be giggly before either of us finished our second glass of whatever we were drinking, which was fun. I was always able to regulate myself by watching his tipsy level. When he would announce, "I'm OOOOO-TAAAAAAAY", and make a big rainbow-like gesture with an okay sign over his head, I knew I was finished drinking after that glass, too. I'm not really sure where that logic came, but it worked and I was able to walk the line between slight inebriation and avoiding a hangover with ease.

Time marched on. I finished my first degree and began a year of prerequisit hell to get into nursing school. Angry Dissenter finished his degree and moved to sunny Malibu, California, to go to law school. The Hater finished his degree the next semester and he and I went to visit Angry Dissenter after he'd finished his first semester as an official student of law.

I had never been to California before. Or Hollywood. Or Malibu. And I'd never seen the Pacific Ocean. And although there were five trillion things I wanted to do while I was there, just hanging out with Angry Dissenter was at the apex of my list. That and being noticed by a well-known movie producer, then coaxed to enter the life of cinema, to thank the Acadamy.

I have the pictures to remind us of our nights of movie-watching and drinking. His apartment, which was also a dorm-apartment, was so much nicer than the shanty where they had lived at MTSU. His couch was mostly navy and had brownish leaves or flowers or something on it. We watched movies and started drinking... and knowing that I could count on Angry Dissenter to secretly cue me when I should sotp drinking, I followed his lead, glass by glass by shot by glass.

At this time I didn't know that the purpose of the first semester of law school was to lead law students into a level of alcohol tolerance that would lubricate their systems for the remainder of their formal schooling. We knew that he'd go out with friends and drink, but we had no idea that his tolerance had FAR superceeded ours.

The Hater, in his attempts to keep up with the Joneses, passed out on the couch. Angry Dissenter talked about dragging him into bed, but I thought it would only be fitting if we made him look like a zombie first. I got out my makeup and shaded contours that Romero himself would appreciate. We took pictures before helping him to bed.

Angry Dissenter was still drinking. I should obviously be drinking, too, he goaded me. I poured a Jack and Coke and was surprised that I couldn't taste any Jack at all. He goaded further, and I guzzled straight from the bottle, very surprised that it went down like water. It was the same for the Southern Comfort. Angry Dissenter took shots, too. We stayed up for an hour longer, drinking and catching up. We finally went to bed talking about the next day's plans.

The next morning I awoke, wondering why I felt funny. Maybe it was the potato chips, I thought. I sat up in bed, only to realize that I felt better when I was laying down. After a while I moved to lay down in the hall. The Hater wondered why he was wearing makeup. Angry Dissenter cleared a path to the john, but I was sure I wasn't going to throw up. After all, I'd never drank to that extent before, and I never really reached the OOOOO-TAAAAYYY.

Then it came. I moved to the bathroom and threw up for two hours straight, then with no specific pattern for another hour or so. Angry Dissenter and The Hater checked on me periodically and praised me for my ability to aim inside the toilet, a feat I would never consider to be a talent until another mutual friend puked all over my bathroom twice after we moved to OKC.

The Hater and Angry Dissenter left me yacking to get groceries for lunch. Before this time I never liked tomato soup, but for some reason that's what I craved when I finally quit throwing up my toenails. I assured Angry Dissenter between heaves that none of this was his fault, but the more sober I became, the more I realized that the days of reaching OOOOTAAAAYYness simultaneously were in the past.

About a year or so ago he finally admitted that goading me was the wrong thing to do. We never second-guessed painting The Hater to look like a zombie. Hollywood and LA in real life are dirty towns, and I don't really know why peole with money would actually choose to live there. I'm sure that I was, indeed, destined to meet an important producer, but it was probably the morning I was recovering from my first and only power-hangover.

Jack officially popped my drinking cherry. I left a special part of myself in Malibu, and I've never again drank so much I regretted it the next morning. The tragic ending to the story is that Jack and I now have a special relationship; I can't drink it on a whim, and SoCo is out of the question. But if I'm somewhere in the need to order one thing that will last me the duration of the encounter, a Jack and Coke's my first choice.

And no matter what social situation is stirring around me, one sip instantly takes me back to zombies, dumpster-diving, and sincere friendships that neither time nor distance nor even Jack himself can taint.


Angry Dissenter said...

I like your stories better than mine. They're funnier.

Though if you recall, the first time we met was not on the debate team . . .


Anonymous said...

G, I was surprised at this story. I can't imagine it. Just like I'm sure you can't imagine me on acid.
Isn't life funny that you think only your generation really lived through weird experiments. People really need to open up.

I see your strange diet has not affected your writing skills. I wonder if radiation will? Good luck.


nicole said...

I admit, I'd never imagine you getting drunk either.

Isn't it funny how we feel we can get an accurate impression of people by reading their blogs every day? ;)

genderist said...

AD: Wesley Foundation's "Feeding of the 5000"!! What a heel I am for not remembering... but in all fairness, that very first encounter was not as deep as the first debate meeting where they played a video and gave us explicit instructions to "go flow".

VM: It was Angry Dissenter's fault. He kept calling me X-rated wuss names. :)

N: Remind me to tell you sometime about when I was a member of a clown troupe.