Monday, February 28, 2011

3. Wedge's 21st Birthday

My mom and her best friend Jim have this longstanding practice of evaluating the conversations they have as they have them. It's ten ways to snobbery, but I find it both bourgeois and charming. Basically, they break conversations into those about things (the bottom), those about people (a step up), and those about ideas (the goal). The story I'm about to share you can categorize for yourself.

I spent my first summer in New York City in a haze of sex, drugs, and alcohol, working a crap retail job but reveling in the joy of being seventeen and without any parental or otherwise calming influence. I had befriended this girl Wedge through mutual friends, and when the time came for her twenty first birthday, I told her that we would ring in the date at a local bar where I enjoyed a steep discount.

The night started out innocuously enough, we thought as we drank our overly strong Alabama Slammers. You would think since we were starting at ten, we would keep some idea of pacing in a corner of our brain, but dear reader you have obviously not been a college student. When midnight came along, our friendly bartender poured us tequila shots, although we were already four shots and three drinks in. We asked for lime and salt; the bartender told us, "You're turning 21! You're an adult now. You don't get lime and salt."

(An aside: you might be wondering how I was keeping track of the number of drinks each hour and the exact things the bartender was saying. This is where the archival nature of my Twitter comes into play. I tell this to people when they ask why I have that particular form of social media.)

We did the shots, and then did more shots, and then drank some more. By two in the morning, we were thoroughly inebriated and began to get restless. We called for the check and were charged thirteen dollars for ten drinks and seventeen shots. I blame this discount, characteristic of the summer, for my behavior. We left sixty in cash, and went to a local gay bar. That's when karaoke started.

Wedge walked in and stood on the small platform that doubled as a stage and announced it was her 21st birthday. Miraculously a spotlight turned on, and the rest of the lights in the bar went dark. I still don't know how or why the staff did that, but I will forever salute them for it. The gentle piano of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" began, and the next six minutes I can only remember were sublime. (I'm sure I was the only one who thought this, but I'm okay with that.)

After this, we went to campus. Now, since it was July, and therefore very nice out at night, with the whole warmth sans the humidity of the day, we decided that sitting on the Steps was a good idea. Needless to say we passed out, having been drinking heavily for six hours at this point. At five in the morning, Wedge and I were woken up (we were in a spooning position, which looked like we were fucking maybe?) by a Public Safety officer. The following exchange is one of my favorite moments of my time at this school, as well as a great component of the Senior Wisdom I am already writing.

PSO: You need to leave. Random people can't just come and sleep here.
Me: No, you don't understand. I'm a student.
PSO: You must be a visiting student. Columbia students know the rules.
Me: What? I'm too fun for Columbia? I'm too fun for Columbia? I live in Schapiro, ever heard of it?
PSO: (walks away grumpily) Too fun for Columbia...

Since we've reached the end of the story, I feel that the proper thing to do would be have a moment of reflection. Instead I'm going to categorize the conversation as my mother would. Is it about things, namely alcohol and excess? Is it about people, Wedge, myself, and that poor Public Safety Man? No. It is about an idea: proving yourself too fun for Columbia.

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