I’m seriously fishing through my undependable memory banks in order to make a point. Back in the day when Howard Stern had his free morning FM radio show, back when Jackie Martling was still his sidekick, Martling, the degenerate and dissolute comic, was fond of calling the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving the “biggest party night of the year.” I can’t say how accurate this is, but I can’t argue it either. I sort of agree. In my prime partying days, it was the no-holds-barred sojourn into depravity that no other day of the year could match. New Year’s Eve is overly-hyped and usually falls flat; Halloween is grueling, no doubt, but many times it is confined to a work- or school- night and extreme partying isn’t wise. But that Wednesday night before Thanksgiving is an unrestrained celebration of fucking debauchery. For most folks, it marks the onset of a four-day holiday. Four days of eating, football (if that’s your thing), sleeping, gaining weight…what better way to herald the arrival of such a festive memorial than to get loaded into the wee hours of the morning?
Wednesday nights before Thanksgiving now will usually find me close to home, if not at home, such as tonight, on the computer while my son plays video games in the background. There comes a time in your life in which you essentially reach a point where you’ve expended most of the wildness from “your system.” I can sincerely say that these late November Wednesdays are old news for me.
It didn’t help that my birthday falls at the end of November, and frequently, on that Wednesday I speak of. During my college years, Wednesday night, throughout the year, was the designated night me and my buddies went out. While in in college there is no such thing as a “school” night. You can tie one on and drag yourself to class the next day…or miss it altogether in order to spend all that time buried beneath the ungracious sheets while you shiver through the ravages of alcoholic toxicity’s legacy 24 hours later. We took full advantage of this irresponsible freedom/privilege. Most times, our Wednesday nights were punctuated and structured around the main event: bowling. The first game might be a symbolic gesture of sportsmanship and physical diligence, by the second game and beyond, bowling as a skill began to slip into the backseat of priorities and the booze’s refrain began to usurp all motivations. We didn’t get trashed every week, but we did drink every time. Some choice drunken Wednesday night moments included a wet reckless for one of us, one awesomely degenerate night we took to rolling toilet paper rolls from the public restroom down the lanes, and a host of other besotted stupidity.
And these were just regular ol’ Wednesday nights any time of year.
Add in the supplemental ingredient of it being a Wednesday before Thanksgiving and you were looking at some serious trouble.
I’ll never forget one pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday.
Normally, there were three of us but if the night was special and we felt like broadening the scope of our depravity, we would invite outsiders. This particular Wednesday I vaguely recall a few “extras” in our normal bowling mission. We bowled and drank like there was no tomorrow (other than Thanksgiving). Dude, we drank everything in sight. I drank some of that nasty Mickey’s Malt Liquor from a big mouth bottle. It tasted rancid, but in the midst of a good drunk, you don’t pay attention to the taste. That would be like a bulemic complaining about the saltiness of the Linguine just before heading to the bathroom. Nope, we drank and got loaded. Most of all, me. I remember Mickey’s big mouth. I remember that, for whatever reason, we crashed at a friend’s parent’s house even though I only lived about 5 minutes away. We crashed hard. I, the archetypal bowling nerd, had a bag and a ball. None of that house-ball shit for me. We were getting out of a car to go into my friend’s house. My bag was sitting on the sidewalk and I was so unsteadily drunk that when I leaned over to pick it by the handle, I literally toppled over and took a header straight into the gravelly sidewalk. My arms were restrained by the evil alcohol and could not be convinced to reach out and break my fall. One of my cheek’s (right, left, who knows) took the brunt of the impact. That cheek wore a strawberry gash right under my eye. Under normal circumstances I suspect the pain might have been excruciating but I hardly remember the injury. (Let’s just say a scab decorated my repulsively puffy face for the next few days). Our designated crashing point in my friend’s house for such illustrious occasions was the living room where we would share some shut eye with his loud fucking bird (one of those colorful tropical pieces of feathery shit) that was silenced by draped covers. I woke up during the night with the nastiest and most unsettling urge to Vomit. I had enough presence of mind to run outside where I began heaving all over the front lawn. And heave. And heave.
I threw up forever.
I don’t know how long I stood out there. But I was out there a long time, wretching, heaving some of that nasty Mickey’s which tasted like liquid death the second time around. Each wave of toxic sickness that wrung my stomach out felt like slow death and its putridness propelled another wave of sickness. It was dark, it was the middle of a Wednesday night/Thursday morning, and most good family, church folks were asleep, smiles lining their faces as they dreamed of the next day’s Turkey dinner.
While I hunched over a front lawn throwing up uncontrollably.
There is nothing in the world like vomiting like an unleashed beast in the wild outdoors from about 1 a.m.-4 a.m. Especially on a grass or soil surface. That is an unmatchable feeling…the cool air dancing over your clammy skin. Your strained heart thumps. You can never capture the true essence of such a debacle unless it’s happened to you. The world is quiet. Still. I believe the world is at its most silent and serene at 3 in the morning. Everything and everyone is either asleep or in a deep state of inanimation. Nothing moves. Except you. You and your toxic innards. The only sound to be heard is your gagging and labored breathing as streams of undigested liquid and food stream out your nose and mouth. The night’s isolated darkness mimics your soul. The world, encapsulated, collapses, and your sordid state of affairs is announced shamelessly to all who listen.
That was not the last time I greeted a new day with such dramatics.
At least I had no wife or respectable neighbors to face the next day then.