Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Break Before The Crazy Times


There's only a week and a half until school ends. On Easter Sunday, I'm heading up to Baguio for the National Writers Workshop. In between, I have papers to check, books to read, classes to plan, and writing to do. And of course, life never stays still and allows you to tick off all the items on your To-Do list without throwing a couple of curveballs in your direction.

Whoever said being a teacher is boring probably didn't know what they were talking about.

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Speaking of new experiences and (a surprising lack) of boring days, Friday night was the first time I got drunk.

Now, bear with me: first of all, I never started drinking until last year. This was partly because, at an age when most of my peers began drinking, I was still mildly allergic to alcohol - my doctor actually recommended that I avoid caffeine and alcohol because of a particularly bad bout of gastritis in high school. Of course, the caffeine avoidance lasted only for a very short time, but the alcohol avoidance took years. Plus, I never really understood the point: why spend so much money to end up doing stupid things? I mean, if I wanted to do something stupid, I'd at least like to have complete mental and physical control over my actions.

Also, living in a country where alcohol was easily three times as expensive as prices in Manila, plus dating a Muslim, definitely put a damper in any alcohol-related experimentation I might have wanted to engage it. I mean, I've tasted wine and champagne and a truly awesome Earl Grey martini concoction, but let's just say that for most of my twenties, I couldn't afford to experiment in any alcohol-related activities.

And then teaching happened.

To be fair, my self-imposed limit is two drinks of the sugary, girly variety that didn't taste like cat piss, but apparently if you mix Red Horse and Red Bull together, it (a) tastes bearable and (b) hits you right in the noggin. Add glam rock night and a bunch of teachers who are also similarly looking for a way to release stress, and you end up with a group of people singing loudly to "Livin' On A Prayer" and knocking back beer and chicken wings and chili cheese fries.

And while I didn't know when I passed the border between "pleasantly buzzed" to "mildly drunk", I do know that at one point in time, someone was screaming "I CAN'T FEEL MY FACE ANYMORE!" and there were a lot of swear words and people laughing and maybe there was a part where my knees decided they couldn't support the rest of my body anymore and honestly, the weirdest thing about the whole experience was the loss of balance - like, huh, so this does really happen, when your body and the rest of the room is slightly out of sync with each other - and the weird teeth. Like, nobody tells you that when you drink enough alcohol, your teeth feel as though they're slightly vibrating inside your mouth. It's a difficult feeling to describe. It's like Phantom Teeth Syndrome. If there's one thing I took away from that experience, it's really the teeth.

Also, I learned that you don't really know who your friends are until you get loudly alcoholic with them. I mean, I've always been on the fringe of any kind of drunken endeavor, happy to observe and take people home, but never really participative. And I learned that your friends are the ones who will prop you up and support you - in the literal and metaphoric sense - when you're not exactly in full control of your mental facilities, and who will tell you that you're okay, and have odd existential conversations with you despite the fact that your bloodstream is probably 50% alcohol at that point in the evening and you need a tub of water and some paracetamol to take the edge off the headache.

That being said, I still don't understand why some people have chosen alcoholism as a way of life - but that may also be because I don't like feeling numb and not in control of things. But I also see the attraction - and there's nothing wrong with indulging in a drink or two on occasion. I still don't feel particularly adult about it, and in fact I'm fairly certain that there's a version of myself that still doesn't drink anything other than a Shirley Temple, but hey. It's a choice that I was happy to make.

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