Down under, what goes down must come up
There was a McDonald’s soda cup in my shoe.
Before that night, I hadn’t eaten anything from McDonald’s in the last three years. I had been 220 pounds once, and I hated the possibility of going back to those dark days. I banished burgers from my digestive system and started to regard the cheap, American lard factory as a no-no.
I woke up to discover that I broke my promise to not eat there again. But frankly, I don’t remember buying the simple cheeseburger with giant fries and a coke — which I hope was at least diet — although I could smell them in my room the next day.
Feeling sticky, I went to the bathroom shared by the entire floor of my hostel to take a shower. After stripping, I noticed a red patch that looked like a giant hickey on my right shoulder. It was weird because I didn’t remember anything sexual from the previous night. I looked closer at my shoulder and the patch turned out to be a tattoo. “Venezuela,” it read. I rushed to the shower to scrub it off, and it did wear off, a little. Thank the great god Zoroaster it wasn’t permanent.
I was wasted the night before. I vaguely remember taking at least 15 drinks of bizarre booze from all over the world. I know it was scandalous, but if you were in my place I’m sure you would have done the same.
I attended a Model United Nations conference in Australia two weeks ago. The conference, called WorldMUN, was sponsored by Harvard and endorsed by the actual United Nations. I went down under with our UNM team of 11 people and stayed for a week.
Participating in a simulated UNESCO, I represented Chile, and we drafted and passed a resolution about the ethical use of photojournalism in today’s world. They said the resolution would be brought to the actual UN for consideration. I still highly doubt it.
It sounds nerdy, but it turns out nerds can also get drunk. When my friends and I arrived, the first items I bought were soap and a bottle of moscato. Because I’m just 18, I still can’t legally buy alcohol in the U.S., so I was thrilled to do it there.
Little did I know that alcohol would replace coffee in my system as my body’s fuel. That pretty much became the basis of my entire week: I got inebriated, if not puking-out-of-my-ass drunk, every single night of my stay in Australia.
“You’re in Melbourne, honey,” I told myself, “So just say ‘fuck it’ and chug.”
I came to realize how uptight I’ve become lately. I order salads and swear I despise burgers when I eat out, although I do love my meat. I buy hard-boiled eggs from Outtakes because they’re the cheapest — 99 cents. I wear a lot semiformal shirts on weekdays just because I feel the need to be presentable in case of an emergency meeting with UNM President Bob Frank — although this has never actually happened. Zoroaster knows I’d rather wear a loose shirt and pajamas to school, or even just hang out in my thong all day at home.
Yeah, I may or may not own a thong.
Anyway, over the course of the past year, I’ve tried so hard to keep myself in control. I’ve set plans I often follow and goals I don’t always meet. I’ve been too absorbed with my job and my studies and with finishing the latest season of “The Walking Dead” on Netflix. I have a daily routine of waking up early and staying up late. I eat vegetables because they’re healthy and instant ramen because it’s cheap. And just before I went to Melbourne, I had stopped going out to party anymore.
My life wasn’t bad, but it was boring. So fuck it, I said, and I chugged.
For the first time in quite a long while, losing control felt good. As I have never been as drunk as I was in Melbourne, I felt all the stress and the tension, and even the shame, drain out of me. As I broke out of my daily routine I felt like Rick Grimes finding a new world with real, live people. This will sound melodramatic, but when I was in Melbourne I felt alive again.
I did my thing and I did it wildly. I spent $650, which was 25 percent of my bankroll at the time, during my week in Australia.
Purchases involved booze, toiletries, taxicab fares, key chains, kangaroo jerky and the best breakfast ever. I’ve eaten four red-meat burgers, two of them from McDonald’s. I smoked my first cigarette in a year and didn’t feel bad about it. I did my version of grinding and got ground on myself on the dance floor throughout the week. And because I had an average of seven to 10 drinks every night, I don’t really remember the rest.
I do think I chugged a little too much.
My mom and brothers picked me up when my plane landed at the Sunport. One brother instantly devoured my stash of kangaroo jerky. We walked into the parking lot together, barely saying anything. Then after entering my mom’s minivan, she spoke.
“So how was Australia?”
“Awesome,” I said. I tried to sound really enthusiastic, but I had brought my hangover home with me. Honestly, I didn’t know what else to say.
Yes, it was awesome, but until right now I couldn’t figure out the stories to tell my friends here at home — except for the stories of me getting drunk. It’s not because I don’t want to tell them, but because I don’t remember what else happened. I chugged hard, and as fun and relieving as it felt, it removed me from the moment.
I spent too much, I ate too much, I drank too much. I enjoyed too much, then I forgot.
I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s human nature to need a release for our repressed tensions and emotions. And it’s not bad to get fucked up from time to time. But never overdo things.
Sometimes it’s better to just stroll around town sober than to vomit green stuff after a night of terrible dancing.
Oh, and also, when you’re drunk, try not to shove a McDonald’s soda cup in your shoe. It will feel sticky and it’s really hard to clean.