Spring break just happened. Seven days spent drinking seven years off my life. I may be in no state to write a blog post today thanks to my weeklong hangover, but by Jove…
I was going to end that sentence with an inspiring statement enumerating my reasons for slogging through the blogging, but I couldn’t think of any. Yet, like an energizer bunny with a keyboard instead of a drum and fingers instead of paws and no drumsticks to get in the way of typing, I continue, albeit with rapidly degrading metaphors.
The downward spiral of my functionality began, like with so many, on St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t have a very strong understanding of calendars and holidays, but I’m pretty sure there’s some powerful committee of politicians, scientists, watchmakers, and holiday mascots who all sit in a room and decide how they’re going to mess with people each year.
“Halloween shall fall on the least fun day of all, a Tuesday!” they cry. “And when it ought to land on a Saturday, we’ll ensure there’s a leap year, bumping it to Sunday and robbing college students everywhere of their scantily-clad celebration!”
“We shall schedule Yom Kippur for the day there’s that drunk driving presentation at high schools, and none of the Jewish kids will be forced to sit through the boring and ineffective scare tactics, thus infuriating children of all other religions!” they cackle. “And most importantly, this year, when Russ is about to have the craziest spring break ever, we will put St. Patrick’s Day on the Saturday that kicks it all off to ensure that he never gets any sleep ever again.”
I think it’s something like that. Now, on St. Patrick’s Day in San Luis Obispo, the tradition is to arrive at your first bar around 6 a.m. for a breakfast of Irish Car Bombs. I have a terrible time waking up in the morning, so obviously I had to pull an all-nighter to guarantee I made it. And then we drank all day, hopping from bar to bar forcing green-colored drinks down our throats, most of which contained Bailey’s Irish Cream or potatoes.
I finally passed out on my couch at 3:35 a.m. the next day and got a full 4 hours of sleep before my fraternity brothers barged through the door screaming things about San Diego and how I had to pack right now and drive 5 hours south no matter how dangerous that might be because I was going to miss the Clippers game and we’d already paid and they’d called me 8 bajillion times but I wasn’t answering and it was going to be the best bonding experience ever and—
The point of this whole story is kayaking. I know that probably hasn’t been obvious so far, but my brain is barely functioning, so every combination of words sounds like sheer brilliance to me until I reread it and find out it says “There was a cat lot of mulching to be deluged before picnic basket.”
Anyway, for spring break I stayed in a multi-million-dollar beach-front 1970s-style sex grotto mansion that my cousin’s friend’s girlfriend had shadily procured, most likely from a washed up rock star through Craigslist. We lovingly referred to it as the “Rage Palace.” The Rage Palace rested at the top of a cliff overlooking a beautiful beach and slept 18 people (in beds, which is like 40 people in spring break–floor sleeping units). It had clearly done too many heavy drugs in its youth and was now in a bit of disrepair—perfect for a bunch of rowdy college kids. The centerpiece of the erstwhile porn set was a giant, penis-esque fireplace located smack-dab in the middle of the main room, and surrounding the back half of this once-virile hearth was a weird glass chamber filled with clam shells. Extensive investigation into this phallic and yonic fever-dream of architecture revealed that the clam chamber was some sort of group shower or maybe just an enterable waterfall. Either way, its only remaining resident was a stuffed Toucan hung from the ceiling by its beak in a climbing position, a creature perpetually caught in the process of ascension.
Outside in the back was a gargantuan balcony precariously balanced on a cliff that had eroded away underneath the support pillars to the point that you had no idea how it all remained suspended in the air. From there you could see a huge stretch of beautiful Mission Beach, a veritable paradise, and for a scant few days, our personal playground. On this balcony were a pool, a hot tub, and a whole bunch of chairs, and the entire place was surrounded by a drunk-proof glass wall that came up to your waist. It was a wonderful place to drink, and drink, and drink.
But drinking has its downsides, like causing a complete inability to perform tasks. It took 4 people an hour to set up a volleyball net, and at the end of the hour, they only succeeded by giving up. We even made a game out of our lack of skill, cleverly titled “The Drunk Challenge.” You see, the Rage Palace came with one of those big plastic ocean kayaks, but the thing was ungodly heavy, so even with the combined strength of four strapping lads, we could barely lift it off the ground. Unable to get the plastic monstrosity to the ocean, we settled for the pool, dumping it unceremoniously into its week-long home, where it became the impetus for The Drunk Challenge.
The Drunk Challenge consisted of lining up the kayak so that it was parallel to one end of the pool, stepping onto the precarious death-trap (the whole thing had to be done standing up, straddling the seat sideways with your legs), turning it 90 degrees using the long kayak paddle, paddling it across the pool in a swaying battle for your life, ramming it head-on against the opposite wall, doing a full 180 that at any point could lead you to falling and smacking your head into concrete, paddling it back with frayed nerves, and dismounting, all while completely sloshed. The kayak was only about a foot shorter than the width of the pool, so you had to do something like a 7-point turn to redirect it. In order to balance, you had to keep your legs bent the whole time, so by about halfway your calves would be aflame with drunken regret.
And when you inevitably crashed into the water, the cold surge of failure would rush into your nostrils and you’d realize that pools seem a lot less warm at 3 in the morning.
One night, the time came for me to make my attempt. According to the judges (anyone who had completed the challenge previously), I hadn’t ever been sufficiently drunk before, but now I was fully qualified. After watching someone splash into the pool mere seconds into the challenge, I sprinted to the kayak, stripped to my underwear, and mounted it…in a strictly platonic way.
For some reason, the majority of our crew came outside to watch (and I’m pretty sure one of them filmed the whole thing. That’s going to come back to bite me). They were all enthusiastic spectators, whether cheering me on or shouting distracting vulgarities, but nothing could break my steel resolve. I turned the kayak, paddle waving unsteadily in my hands. I stuck it tentatively into the water, swaying dangerously close to failure—and immediately failed, splashing into the pool. But I wasn’t finished!
I leapt out and remounted, this time even more focused. Paddle in hand, I began to turn the tilting behemoth beneath my feet. Slowly, ever so slowly, I made my way to the other side, rammed the wall, and turned around. My legs burned with the effort, my arms shook with the cold, my brain pounded with the alcohol. And I still had to make it all the way back!
It took me 5 and a half minutes to complete The Drunk Challenge, but by god I did it. And after dismounting, I raised my paddle into the air, reveling in my victory, even if I was soaking wet and shivering, underwear clinging unflatteringly to my shriveled junk in front of my friends and that girl I’d been attempting to seduce. For the next half hour, I loudly proclaimed to anyone who would listen that it was the proudest moment of my life. Who knows? Maybe it was.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of The Saga of Spring Break, in which I wage glorious war with a flock of angry seagulls.