About a month ago, I agreed to cat-sit my parents lovely, fluffy gray cat Willow while they were in Louisiana visiting my little sister. There were perks. A huge house all to myself for two days, plenty of bottles of wine in the basement, permission to ‘throw a party’ Saturday night, and for all this, I would get paid. All I had to do was let the cat in and out of the house during the day, make sure she was inside at night, and keep her fed and watered. Couldn’t ask for a better set-up!

The bad news was, I had to close the store the Friday night before, and Birmingham is a two-hour drive away. I made it to my house after midnight sometime. Read and wrote for too long, fell asleep around 2 am, woke up at 6:30, packed and headed out the door because, oh, there was one other draw back to the situation – I had to be in Birmingham by 9 to let the cat out because she’d spent the entire day before cooped up inside. For that, I got a cash bonus. Of course I would sacrifice sleep for cash. So I got in my pathetic little car at 7am, freezing my…umm…nose? off, feeling perhaps more physically uncomfortable than I’ve felt in some time, and drove for two hours.

My activities for the day consisted of boring things no one cares to hear about, letting the cat in and out of the house, watching a football game and taking a nap. That night, Dear and Funky friends came over to my parents’ house for pizza and beer, which actually started as pizza and a bottle and a half of wine, then beer, and for me, more beer, to top off the margarita wine cooler I’d had before the girls had even arrived. Knowing as you do from a previous post, I have a very low tolerance for alcohol and sometimes I get carried away.

Also, alcohol has this uncanny ability to make one need to pee. Obviously, I ended up on the toilet. With my phone. Drunk.

Anyone who knows me also knows I am highly ungraceful, and that’s when I’m sober. When I’ve had too much, I’m a walking disaster. Needless to say, my phone ended up in the toilet.

Have I mentioned that I just purchased this phone the day before? Right. I’d just purchased the phone the day before. And it was in the toilet. Effing hell.

Funky friend offered some sage advice. A bag of uncooked rice. Otherwise, she and Dear Friend just made fun of me. I, however, was inconsolable. My phone! My life-line! I do not do well without it. I had to have a replacement. Immediately. I was no longer a happy silly drunk, I was a belligerent and devastated drunk no one wanted to be around. Funky Friend excused herself shortly thereafter. As I was letting her out the door, out also went Willow. You know, the cat who wasn’t supposed to go outside after dark? Yeah. That one.

Gah.

Obviously the only solution was to run around the wet yard in my sock feet screaming after little Willow in the hopes that she would for some reason come back to me. The raving lunatic. Cats just love raving lunatics running around in wet socks. Of course, she ran.

As frustrated as I was by Willow getting away, I had more important things to deal with after Funky’s departure. I  needed another phone. Stat.

The continuing problem was that I was drunk and could not drive. The solution: Dear Friend is also Perfectly Responsible Friend and had consumed far, far less alcohol than I had, and nothing in the last hour of our gathering.

I didn’t have to do much begging before I was in her SUV’s passenger seat being chauffeured to the nearest Wal-Mart.

Which was closed.

Wal-Marts CLOSE?!?!? Who knew.

Anyway, there is another Wal-Mart not far down the road and Dear Friend is quite dear, so she drove me to that one. Where I drunkenly questioned the only electronics worker on duty after midnight on a  Saturday night. He was unhelpful. Apparently some Wal-Marts close and not all Wal-Marts carry the same product. I’d purchased my phone the day before at the Wal-Mart where I live.

Blast and bother.

Dear Friend drove a sullen LizHarrell back to her parents’ home, then left. LizHarrell stood out in the cold and called for Willow for two solid minutes on both the front and back porches. LizHarrell was ignored, or was else the cat was incapable of hearing from the gut of a coyote.

I then got on AIM with Dear Friend who volunteered her spare cell phone. By this time, I was so sober it wasn’t even funny, so I drove over to her house, got the spare phone, and drove back to my parents’.

Called for Willow again.

She ignored me, again.

Quietly, I made up a little bed on the sofa between the front and back doors. I had a cell phone again, and had high hopes for the bag of uncooked rice restoring my brand new phone to its brand new state. But I had failed at my only charge for the weekend. Willow was out in the freezing night, being pursued by large scary animals, and I was to blame.

I huddled into a ball on the sofa and waited with as much optimism as I could muster for Willow to return home. I fell asleep.

And at 7am, Willow came prancing up to the back door as if nothing at all was wrong. Apparently the rule about her staying inside at night was unnecessary. As was my night on the sofa.

As always (knock on wood), I avoided a hangover. My parents returned home to a clean home and were not too annoyed by the missing alcohol. I never told them about the phone… but it didn’t matter. The bag of rice actually worked!

As it turns out, not all mistakes are irreversible or disastrous. Cats come home and phones dry out. Knowing that certain mistakes can be undone is really very comforting. If only it were always so easy as a night on the sofa and a bag of uncooked rice!

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Warning: my parents are not going to like this post.

Now, with that settled, allow me to illustrate the afternoon/evening where I got the most intoxicated I’ve ever been – off of three (sort of largish) glasses of red wine. This photo is of me looking for sticks in the woods to feed our fire with. I apparently wandered rather farther from camp than I intended but I don’t think DF and FF would have let me do anything too badly stupid. Also, I think I was dancing in this photo:

Liz in the Woods

Liz in the Woods

We’d gone hiking earlier in the afternoon (perhaps another post to come on this…perhaps not, we’ll see) and had settled around our rather pathetic fire playing a card game (phase 10, for those who are interested in the details) which I was winning rather handily (if I do say so myself…) until we uncorked a bottle of wine. I don’t love red wine but it does tend to affect me really strongly, so I stopped caring about the icky taste after about three sips. At which point I got overly interested in our meagre little fire, absolutely determined to make it a roaring fire like I was sure any guy could do without even trying. Girl Power!

It was at this time that the picture above was taken (and I think I’d consumed at least a full glass of wine at this point, too). I also think FF walked up to the bathrooms at some point and I managed to get completely covered in ash poking around in the fire while closely observed by DF (a nurse on the burn unit, so I felt quite safe). I never quite succeeded in getting the fire stoked to a level that would have made a caveman proud, but I hear that (before it started raining for the second night in a row) it eventually got going quite well. I don’t remember. I was drunk.

I would like to disclaim here that I have never really been drunk before. [UPDATE: I have been reminded that this is not exactly my first drunken experience. I stand by my statement that I’ve not been this drunk before, but perhaps I have had a run in with a screwdriver or two in the past… oops…] Being that I am 26 and I only just got drunk for the first time (and I might say the last time, but I seriously doubt it is… my friends all really like red wine… I don’t get it), I’m in pretty good shape. The reason I add this here is because I get a lot stupider in this post going forward. Somehow, I had two more glasses of wine…

I think at some point before dinner we finished Phase 10 (I lost, imagine that), so while FF (at least I remember it mostly being her) cooked our steaks for our dinner (which should have tasted MUCH better considering how much I paid for them… but I wasn’t exactly in a state of mind to appreciate the fine flavors of beef at that moment anyway) I rolled around in the dirt. Yes, that’s right. I rolled around outside of our tent because I actually couldn’t stand up anymore. How pathetic! Three glasses of wine and I’m a blithering idiot. 

The girls propped me up on a log and handed me my steak, which they’d kindly cut in half for me. I decided that there was no need to dirty anymore silverware, so I ate my steak with my hands. Now I was beginning to make the cavemen proud. Especially when I dropped part of the steak on the ground, picked it up, was too blurry-eyed to see any dirt on it, and ate it anyway.

Then it started raining – God’s way of sobering me up. I don’t remember exactly how we got all of our stuff inside our cars or the tent, but we managed it, and I felt a LOT better once we turned in for the evening. In fact, I think I was the last one to fall asleep out of the three of us. But it was pretty good fun (though I am fairly certain I apologized to DF and FF no less than a hundred times each, during and after my intoxication) and thankfully they only took a couple of really incriminating photos of me. Those are some good friends, those girls!

So I started college at a pretty hoitytoity, southern, liberal arts school after having spent four years at a counter-culture, crazy, liberal arts high school. Very different in many ways, but still, the feel was similar in a way; both schools were small, tight-knit communities and only about three miles away from one another.

What I loved about high school was the unique environment for learning with students who really wanted to be at school every day. What I loved about college was living on campus and getting to make my own schedule. I got lucky with my potluck roommate, who among other lovely character traits, allowed me to rearrange the furniture in our room on a monthly basis and helped me make friends with people I was too shy to talk to on my own.

Once I was relaxed around all these fun new friends, I have to admit we had a lotof fun. We spent a lot of time drawing with crayons and colored pencils, studying and/or not studying, talking on AIM, trying on each others’ clothes, fixing each others’ hair, watching chick-flicks, driving to and dining at Waffle House and Krispy Kreme, and in general wasting time. From what I understand, the other girls stayed up all night on multiple occasions while I wimped out and was in bed before midnight. But there was one night where I joined in the fun and have regretted missing out on all the other all-nighters ever since. That was fun.

That evening was a conglomeration of all the things I loved about college, most of which I mentioned above, with a dash of procrastination and a good deal of delusional humor. I even wrote a paper (due the next day – the final for a composition class, actually) commemorating the event. My one and only all-nighter. {And Mom, to satisfy your curiousity, I can honestly say that there was no alcohol at all involved in that evening. We were far too used to having our drinks provided for free on frat row to spend our own money to illegally obtain anything otherwise.}

I am fairly certain I would have gotten an A on that paper had my teacher actually taken the time to read it. Instead, he gave me an A in the class, citing my excellent papers up to that point. It’s probably for the best that he didn’t read it. I tend to incriminate myself when I do personal writing…