Everyone in life has a best friend. You might have a best-friend from work or a best-friend from home. You might be a best-friend-purist – someone who claims it is only possible to have one best friend at any one moment. If you are unsure of how best-friendy your best-friend is, think back and ask if they were there for you during your worst drunken moments. Did that best-friend demonstrate patience, when you were acting like a drunken, ‘wreck the head’? Did that friend look after you and make sure no harm came to you? If so, you are lucky. These are the people that will stick by you through thick and thin.
I am not an alcoholic, but I’m a firm believer in the one drink that is one too many. At one moment you are at a house party pacing yourself. The next thing you know, you’ve drank a little too quickly. All common sense is abandoned. You consume alcohol quicker than your ability. You have a good patch – a lull – which soon ends. Before you know it, you’re slurring your words, spilling your drink and falling over the couch that appeared from nowhere. Your friends take you on in a debate by listing the many reasons you should go home. Just before you make your grand exit, you spend a good ten minutes in the bathroom with your head in the toilet bowl. I’ll be honest and say I’ve had my fair share of those nights over the years.
My vast experience with alcohol gives me patience with my friends on the infrequent occasions they get absolutely ‘trolleyed’. In the past, my friends have been there for me; I will be there for them. One such occasion arose one night in my old IFSC apartment, where we held a party. I made the lethal mistake of making vodka jelly. I stupidly made the jelly on nothing but vodka and jelly – no water. The strawberry flavour did not compensate for the burning sensation caused by the high vodka content. I offered them to my guests and, after trying one, the majority declined a second. I left the many unconsumed shots on a tray in the kitchen in the hope the odd passing fool might brave a try.
A few hours into the party, things were kicking off. It was time for some food. I headed for the kitchen. Four of my friends, three girls and a guy, who I would thereafter refer to as the “Vodka Jelly Gang”, stood in the kitchen with silly smiles on their faces. I paused a moment to assess the situation. In seconds I scanned the kitchen and their smiley faces to eventually notice the empty tray that sat on the counter. “Guys, the four of you didn’t drink all of those yourselves, did you?” I asked. They confirmed my suspicions with nods and giggles. I explained how it was a copious amount of alcohol for a group of four. My concerns fell on deaf ears accompanied by dopey smiles.
Less than an hour later things took a turn for the worse. One member of the “Vodka Jelly Gang”, my best friend, is relatively inexperienced with alcohol. He doesn’t drink huge amounts, but on this night he was quite inebriated. For a while, he was highly entertaining. He waved his hands as he told stories and made more witty quips in one hour than he would usually offer in a week. I and a mutual friend took action by pouring his wine down the sink (only to be caught by him) and making him drink water by telling him it was vodka. Time passed. We thought he was fine until he made a sudden dash for the bathroom. During his dash, his hand covered his mouth. The bathroom door was locked – a bit like him you might say. He forcefully banged on the door. He then ran from the bathroom door into the kitchen for a reunion with his last meal.
I joined him in the kitchen, after reassuring our guests everything was fine. It was time to earn some good karma for all the times my best-friend turned a tolerant eye to my drunken shenanigans. He intermittently apologised, while raising his head from inside the sink. I just laughed. “You know what they say – better out than in,” I chuckled. I stayed with him in the kitchen for a while until he thought he was recovered. We rejoined the party. Within minutes we witnessed another Linford Christie sprint for the bathroom. While he kneeled in front of the toilet, I sat on the ledge of the bath and passed him toilet paper each time he came up for air. That is what best-friends are for. I sat by chatting away as if nothing was wrong.
“I can’t believe you put away all that vodka jelly. That was a crazy amount of alcohol to consume”, I said. “I am surprised you are still standing”.
He raised his head and gasped for air. I passed the toilet paper. “Thanks,” he spluttered, before wiping his mouth. He handed the paper back to me and lowered his head again.
“Wow, you really have it bad, don’t you?” I sympathised. “Imagine all the calories you are ridding yourself of from this. You’ll be able to eat anything you like tomorrow.” He didn’t laugh with me.
He lifted his head and gasped for air. “I am so sorry for this. I am really, really sorry”.
I had some alcohol on me at this stage and felt emotional. “Don’t worry about it at all. You’d do the same for me, if I were in this position.”
Again, he raised his head, coughing for air. “I’m really sorry,” he panted in a pleading tone.
He turned to the side and replaced the toilet paper on the holder to the side of the cistern. This made me laugh. Even in a state of complete and utter drunkenness, my best friend was fussy about where things were put. He continued to kneel in front of the toilet dry retching. He was clearly mortified. I decided I would put this evening into context for him.
“Do you recall all the nights I got absolutely off my face over the last few years?”
He answered with a nod.
“Consider every single time I have made an arse of myself by getting too drunk. Next, weigh tonight’s one-off incident against my many nights of foolish, gobshitery drunkenness”.
I paused to gather some thought. “Now, tell me if it get any worse than this?” I asked with a smile.
He laughed out loud, paused and looked thoughtful for a moment.. “Yes, you’re right,” he agreed, before replacing his head in the toilet bowl.