A Terrible Vacation from Being an Adult

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I’m an adult now. (But I’m not singing the Pursuit of Happiness song.)

I’ve been an adult for a while, actually. It struck me on a particular day last year that I’ve been legally recognized as capable of making my own decisions for 10 years. As has been the case post-WWII, a segue into adulthood has been established, referred to in market research as “18-24”, or “college-aged”, or “18 until you move out of your parents’ house you lazy parasite”. I still like to think of myself as a young adult because I haven’t accomplished much, but I know I’ve matured a reasonable distance since the age of being an adult that nobody treats as an adult.

But I still revisit those times. I have a few best friends whom I’ve known since very distinctly pre-adult ages, and we’ve matured along similar paths up to this point. When we were in university, i.e. 18-24 or thereabouts, we did some typical coming-of-age irresponsible things like excessive drinking. I was very good at holding my liquor for a girl and I didn’t experience a hangover until I was 22 and had 6 shots of tequila within a couple of hours. There’s a special nostalgia for the times that we drank so much together in our parents’ basement, or the room one of us was renting in “the party house”, or our first apartments. We drank and drank and drank and did stupid shit within the safety of the home and passed out to depart ways in physical and mental shape only diminished by the short sleep.

I was a good drinker. I rarely vomited and could function easily the next day. That naturally started to change over time as commonly happens with the aging process at that stage of life. But the hangovers were mild and only lasted a few hours – you know, a headache that a couple extra-strength ibuprofens could take care of. This was from hard liquor, usually in vodka coolers or combined with soft drinks, or shots both fruity and harsh. Beer wasn’t alcoholic enough and my tastebuds weren’t thrilled with most brews. Wine seemed too civilized and also tasted more bitter than then it does to me now. I don’t even get drunk from hard liquor anymore, so my preferences in alcoholic beverages have moved onto the beer and wine that in a previous era I steered away from.

Well, it’s still possible for me to get drunk from hard liquor – if I’m already drunk from wine. I know it’s not a good idea to mix sources of alcohol, but when you’ve already split a bottle of cheap malbec in half with one of those best friends, it gets nostalgic and you think that drinking Jaegermeister together will be just like old times.

But your brain, when reminiscing, does not function in line with your liver or stomach. You end up vomiting on your friend’s floor, which if it did happen 18-24 was funny at the time, and passing out only to wake up the next morning to bus home and throw up in the snow on the sidewalk halfway between the stop you got off at and the appropriate vomit-hole in your bathroom at home.

In previous hangovers, even up to, say, 26 or 27, one barf session (or “upchuck” as we called it in 1990) was usually enough to get everything out of your system and function again. But now it can take five. Six. Seven before you can even stand up long enough to go get the Pepto Bismol you don’t have in your medicine cabinet because you never do this anymore. Wine, even cheap malbec, may taste good to me now, and the harsh black licorice of Jaegermeister may even be tolerable to down several times once I’ve had enough wine. But yellow bile does not mix well with anything, the bitter acidic digestive aide that goes surprisingly well with the new navy-white-grey colour scheme of my bathroom. Even brown sugar Mini-Wheats cereal doesn’t taste good coming back up.

So, I’m an adult now, and I should know better. I should know my body better and I should know the other experiences since crossing the line of young- to supposedly-responsible-adult better. I’m not an alcoholic, thankfully, so I’m not going to swear off any drop of the intoxicant and seek out AA meetings for recovery. I hope it never comes to that. I shouldn’t need these terrible experiences every once in a while to know there’s nothing fun about excessive drinking. I’ll stick to a beer or two every now and then. I’ll stick to a glass of wine with a nice dinner. I’ll have a couple vodka 7-ups at open bar weddings. That will be fine, and I’ll handle it well. I’m mature about it.

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