Drinking for Free(dom) in the Finest of Establishments

26 May

The way I see it, everyone has a few truly epic stories from their younger years. Our last post got me thinking about it, and I realized that most of mine are the kinds of stories that you really shouldn’t tell, at least to anyone who I want to have a decent opinion of me. There are a couple, though, that are too great not to tell, and this one even has a practical lesson to it. So why not, I figure: this is the internet, and I’m anonymous, so here goes.

First things first,  I grew up a few hours from Boston. When I go back to visit, I typically take Virgin America’s direct flight from Los Angeles to Boston, stay in the city with old friends from high school and college for a few days, then head back to my hometown. In this particular case, it was a standard December day, and for whatever reason I had opted not to take the red-eye flight like I usually do. Instead, I left pretty early in the morning, so that I arrived in Boston at about 6 or 7pm local time. I didn’t pack a winter jacket, figuring that I would be fine for a few days in Boston before I got back to my father’s house (where I keep all of my winter clothes). From the outset, the plan was to meet a friend–I’ll call him Frank–in Boston, at which point we would go and get aggressively drunk at one of our favorite bars before taking the train out to Salem.

Sometimes, random and seemingly innocuous events transpire in front of you, and you don’t even begin to realize their ramifications until well after the fact. This is exactly how I would describe Virgin’s decision to comp me an upgrade to first class. I’m not sure why they did it, and I wasn’t particularly pumped when it happened. I wasn’t really excited by it, in fact, until well after the plane had taken off, and I discovered that: a) first class served free drinks, and b) Virgin America carried absinthe. I also had a few shots of vodka that I’d snuck through security, so I was good to go. Naturally, I proceeded to get pretty loaded.

When I finally did land, I strolled out of the airport, hopped right on the silver line (I never check baggage), transferred over to the red, and met Frank at our bar of choice. There, we proceeded to drink some more, making sure to try all of the drinks that had recently been added to the menu. After a couple of hours, we finally headed out to North Station to pick up the commuter rail back to Salem. The next day, we both realized that neither of us had any clear/sustained recollection of this train ride, so it’s safe to say that we were in pretty deep. My only memory is using my phone to look up every iteration of the Courage Wolf meme that I could find, all while playing The Final Countdown for the enjoyment of myself and everyone else in our car.

When we did finally arrive in Salem, I immediately urinated directly outside of the train. By that, I mean it was either on the train as it departed or, more likely, in the parking lot. I’m not totally sure. We proceeded directly to the liquor store, where I attempted to buy a bottle of absinthe. The man at the counter refused to sell to me on the grounds that I was too intoxicated already. He clearly expected me to dispute that fact and/or become combative, but, as drunk as I was, I still recognized that he was 100% in the right.  I merely nodded, said “yeah, that’s fair, thanks anyways!”, then apologized and left.

So that should pretty well explain how the night began. By this point, I had already traveled 3,000+ miles, blacked out, then somehow come back from that blackout, so that I was now in a strange state of being drunk, tired, displaced, and jet-lagged.  The solution, of course, was that I demanded to go to a bar so that we could keep drinking. Frank, his roommate John and I all ventured out into the night, and sure enough, we were soon at a standard Boston-Irish pub.

We went directly to the bar, grabbed stools, and went to work on hamburgers and whiskey. After a couple of glasses, I decided to switch to gin and tonics, while Frank got the brilliant idea that we should do shots. Long story short, I blacked out pretty hard… again. I remember only bits and pieces from here. The high point was probably when I looked across the bar and noticed a woman who was particularly well-endowed, so I took an instant interest in her. Being my suave, eloquent self, I simply raised my voice 40 or 50 decibels and shouted “HEY…. TITS. C’MERE!”. I guess that she was too surprised to be  angry, because she actually came right over, and, while I was clearly too drunk to hold a conversation, John spoke with her at length. To this day, I’ve never been more proud to have a pick-up line work than I was then and there.

After a couple more drinks, we were finally ( inevitably) cut off. John and Frank both tried to pay in cash, but I refused to let them. I insisted that the bill–which came out to a shade north of $200–go on my credit card, on the basis that credit cards exist so that you don’t have to pay “real” money. Yes, apparently my understanding of how money works pretty much evaporates when I’m that kind of drunk. As it came time to leave, it became clear that I could no longer walk, so John and Frank were forced to drag me back to their apartment so that I could pass out on the couch. As they pulled me out the front door, the bartender shouted “hey, guys- you didn’t drink here!”

You know what’s the real kicker here, though? A few months later, I was reviewing my credit card statements, and I noticed that there was a conspicuous absence of late-night $200+ charges from a bar in Boston. I immediately called up Frank, and led with “holy shit Frank, they never charged my card!” The only real explanation that we could come up with was that I had been too drunk to charge. In their eyes, they must have been fairly certain that I was going to either die or kill someone that night, so they decided to play it safe and not run my card, so that there would be no paper trail implicating them in the whole ordeal.

It was at once my greatest triumph as an early-20s drinker and one of  my real low points as an actual adult. The following day, as I sat in a diner and drank a pitcher of ice water, I decided that those days were over for me. I still go and get hammered from time to time, but never like that anymore. That day-long, continent-spanning bender was the last hurrah for college-farrell, and my parting gift was $200 worth of free booze.


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