As I walked onstage in my flowing black gown, I took a moment to look out into the cheering crowd and find my family – my beaming parents, clapping with unadulterated fulfillment as their only daughter waved her hard-earned diploma in the air, tears of self-satisfaction streaming down her accomplished, collegiate face. Actually, it didn’t happen quite like that. I don’t really remember very much of the actual ceremony… I had chugged 2 bottles of cheap champagne in my apartment as I straightened my hair and waited for my boyfriend to come back with the airplane bottles of Smirnoff I had obnoxiously requested so last minute. By the time I stumbled onstage I was in the midst of one of my celebratory brownouts, probably concentrating more on not doing the drunk-girl-baby-deer-walk than on appreciating this like, culmination of everything I had ever been working towards. But looking back, it kind of makes sense that my actual graduation was a wasted commemoration, seeing as I was (metaphorically) picking up a BA in fooling everyone as to how much of a booze hound I actually was; picking up my scrolled-up Basic Alcoholic paperwork as I burped up vodka fumes and tried not to puke on my robe.
My Favorite Brand of Vodka was “Plastic Bottle” Vodka
My parents knew I was taking the whole college party thing a little too far when I came home for Thanksgiving break freshman year and peed on my floor at 3 a.m. thinking I was in my dorm bathroom. Even as I drunkenly scrubbed it out of my rug the next morning, I laughed to myself, almost proud for having at least made it out of the bed. After all, everyone I knew peed in places they were not supposed to pee. My then-boyfriend peed on our new ottoman the first night we met (I knew it was love), my buddy Jacob peed in my roommate’s bed when she was out of town (she wasn’t stoked), and I had probably peed in every parking garage in Westwood at least 13 times. Unfortunately, things sort of went downhill from there. Frat parties stopped being fun after I successfully gained an unfavorable reputation (and a slightly derogatory nickname), my grades started dropping below the contented B as I stayed out later and started drinking earlier (thermos filled with Bailey’s in 8 am French class turned to water bottle filled with vodka turned to ‘I can probably skip class today and tomorrow and every day forever’), and living situations grew strained when my roommates consistently awoke to mysteriously devoured Chinese leftovers.
“I Knocked Over Your Leftovers, I Will Buy You More”, Read the Note. I Ate Them, and I Never Bought More.
The delight I once took in being able to drink my male friends under the table quickly turned to the fearful realization that this was less of a skill than it was a serious problem. I was walking around blacked-out nearly half the time and no one really seemed to notice. To some degree I suppose that was when my functioning alcoholism began to take effect. Yet my peers continued to go out on weekends, and I was careful to surround myself with like-livered individuals who wouldn’t scorn my excess. There are many factors that contribute to college students actively participating in binge drinking and other detrimental alcohol-driven behaviors, one of the most obvious and prevalent being that everyone is doing it. My mom used to say, “Just hang out with people who don’t drink!” as if this was even an option. I never met a human college student who didn’t AT LEAST shotgun Natty Lite on Thursdays. The commonality of alcoholic drinking and the widespread tolerance for overconsumption makes the collegiate environment especially dangerous – a breeding ground for dormant genes stirred to life by gratuitous beer pong tourneys and themed frat parties that might as well all be themed “wear as little clothing as possible please show us your boobs”. College can be pretty dangerous for the coming-of-age lush, and for those who fear they are drinking a little more heavily than their sorority sisters or who find they need a screwball in order to wake up and cram, it would be wise to examine whether such behavior is a mere product of environment or the beginning stages of a devastating and life-threatening disease.
My glory days of handle pulls and King’s Cup lead to an extended stay in an inpatient rehab in Southern Florida, and while I somehow managed to walk away from 4 years of partying and promiscuity with a degree, seeking help as soon as I recognized I needed it would have saved me and my loved ones from the unimaginable heartache and distress I caused and lived with during and after my college experience.