I was nineteen years old and had made it through more than half of the second semester of my freshman year. I was a couple of months into my first stint of living in a filthy and dilapidated off-campus fraternity house. The warmer spring weather had finally brought with it the start of humid Friday nights. Those were the type of evenings that you could feel the potential for something great to happen at any moment. Our house happened to be located near a low lying creek so it was a little cooler than the surrounding areas in the summer, but on party nights when the whole house was a churning engine of excitable college party goers, the painted brick walls would form condensation and appear to sweat. The guys I lived with in the house were just as wild and rowdy as I was at the time. If you lived in the Fraternity house you were usually a part of the small crew of people dictating decoration related tasks to pledges while putting together whatever else needed to be set up for the party. When the liquor along with the kegs arrived half an hour or so before the party, we usually tore open the paper bags to inspect the cache of alcohol for the evening. To our delight, this time around our guys had returned from the store with a few handles of Everclear for thejungle juice.
Most fraternity parties serve a sweeter alcoholic alternative to beer for the girls, in most circles this beverage was referred to as “jungle juice
.” In different parts of the country this crudely made beverage went by other names such as “The juice, Hunch Punch, Red/Purple Drank, Kool-aide, Fruit Punch, Crunk Juice, Bitch Drink, etc
.” Although there were many variations of recipes over time, we had discovered that three liter bottles of Safeway brand soda were $0.88. Which proved to save us some time and money so we would often mix up two large five gallon coolers containing fifteen liters of soda each (6 of the 3 liter sodas) and lots of ice (usually fruity flavors mixed) with one bottle of Everclear. Everclear can be a blessing and a curse, either way it blurs those lines rather quickly. For $30 you could get a handle (1.75mL) of 190 proof grain alcohol (it’s 95.6% alcohol). Think legal moonshine. When mixed, it doesn’t taste like anything but it has a habit of sneaking up on you.
A common rant at the start of parties would often be, “the juice is weak! Did you guys even put alcohol in it?” I’d advise them to drink a few cups then come back and complain. Invariably those were the same girls who ended up face-down in the gravel parking lot of the fraternity house or falling down stairs on their way to or from the bathroom. If you’re reading this and you have a daughter that is college aged or older, then I’m specifically referring to the time your little angel tumbled head first down my stairs and ended up face down in my parking lot only a mere hour or so after complaining about the free alcohol she was drinking at my house. Cheers.
This particular party we were setting up for was a mixer. That means we would be closing our party off to any random people except for those in our fraternity and their sorority. These mixers are usually tamer than high school sanctioned gatherings because generally the girls spent most of their time “watching out” for each other and judging one another’s behavior; so nobody really gets to have a great time. The only redeeming quality behind these things was that sometimes mixers brought out the girls that you’ve never met before because they were so blindly infatuated with another fraternity. Given that the party was an invitation only event, there would be less overall attendees (40 of our guys and probably 50 of their girls instead of the 100-300 girls). Therefore the cost to throw one of these parties was cheaper and it was practically guaranteed that there would Jungle Juice and beer left over.
The three of us gathered in the main bar room to begin the practically ceremonial act of preparing the Juice. After filling the first igloo cooler halfway up with ice, I twisted off the cap to the Everclear and removed the plastic pour stopper and began emptying its contents into the orange cooler. Next we splashed in the cheap three liter soda bottles. I can still hear the sounds of bubbling and fizzing the soda makes when it hits the ice.
As the last one went in and the fizz began to settle my room mate Kevin grabbed one of the empty three liter bottles and began to fill it up using the tap on the side of the cooler. The Everclear hadn’t even had a chance to mix thoroughly so most of the stuff coming out of the tap on cooler was likely to be highly concentrated stuff.
“What are you doing?” My other roommate Rod said almost grabbing for the bottle right away.
“It’s a mixer; these girls aren’t going to finish all of this stuff away way right? Let’s hang onto this bottle and split it later when everyone leaves tonight.” Kevin said glancing back and forth between the two of us.
It was as though a profound shockwave had just blasted through our beer pong room, we all took half a step back.
“That’s genius.” I whispered.
Nods on serious faces fell over the group as the three of us looked one another straight in the eyes for a moment. We had just inherited a major responsibility. With minimum communication we all had vowed to finish the entire three liter after the party was over. In hindsight, this should have raised a red flag as drinking such a large amount of a high octane brew after a night of heavy drinking might not be the best of ideas. But in those days consequences seldom surfaced for inherent stupidity.
We stashed the bottle inside my mini-fridge and finished the remaining party procedures.
The night continued on and the party went as expected. The makings of a great night were laid out for us but due to the general nature of the mixer, the night had ended prematurely. The last of the girls were ushered home by their uglier fat-cockblocking sisters shortly before 1:00 AM as opportunities to make “bad” decisions were met by their scowls and meaningless judgments.
Being the late night opportunist, I was already sitting in front of my computer using instant messenger and furiously drunk texting to try and uncover some late night company. Of the few girls I did reach, none of them had any intentions of coming over just to be around some intoxicated doofuses who would likely be obnoxious and unpleasant anyway. It was pretty obvious that I was striking out that evening and I began to accept my fate while commiserating on AOL instant messenger with one of my closer friends in the Fraternity named Mike. He was just as equally disappointed with the fizzling end to the night. He had gotten back to campus a while earlier and was still trying to go somewhere, 1:00 AM is too early to go to bed on a Friday.
Mike asked if I was still drinking and I confirmed that I was, but I also explained that there wasn’t anything happening at the house anymore. He asked me if I wanted to go on a road trip to which I agreed sarcastically and told him to save it for tomorrow. Mike said he would think about swinging by that evening if nothing else came up. I left the conversations boxes open on my desktop as my roommates barged into my room.
“Where is it?” Kevin slurred with a grin.
“Where’s what?” I asked moving out of his way.
He went straight for my fridge and pulled out the chilled full bottle of reddish Jungle Juice.
“Here we go, now we’ve got a party.” Said Kevin twisting off the cap and dropping it to floor.
He began to chug as I threw on some party music and yelled in Kevin’s ear while Rod danced out in the hallway.
Kevin tore his mouth from the bottle with a gasp of air, “that’s good stuff; -here!” He bellowed handing me the bottle.
I tilted my head back and gulped for as long as I could until I felt like my stomach couldn’t hold anymore. I pulled the bottle away from my face and handed it to Rod as I took short breaths until a burp reduced the pressure following by a refreshing “ahhh.” Primal screams and fist pumps soon followed and so it began; a furious game not dissimilar to hot potato whose only goal was to finish this three liter of powerful Jungle Juice as soon as possible.
What kind of men would we be if we didn’t honor the unspoken drinking pact we had made only four hours earlier?
The three of us passed the bottle around as I jumped in front of my computer intermittently to change the ear-shattering chugging songs until finally the bottle had been completely emptied.I don’t remember anything after that. In some cases when I occasionally “black out” or “time travel” there are blips and frames associated with the journey beyond the unknown… in this case, I had none.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcW_Ygs6hm0
Consciousness rang back into my existence like a slap across the face. I was face down with my arms at my sides a-top a blanket. I could feel the warm sun on my back and heard ambient noises like someone had left the TV blaring. My head was spinning and I still felt incredibly drunk as I tilted my chin upwards and slowly opened my eyes. The blinding sun blurred my vision and my eyes watered as I tried to focus on the moving terrain around me. What the hell was I doing outside? There were children digging in the sand a few yards to my right and families all around us on large beach towels under big beach umbrellas. Just past them, blue waves crashed onto a sandy beach opening up to a gigantic ocean as far as the eye could see. How long had I been out? Washington, DC isn’t anywhere near a beach like this and unless I somehow flew somewhere, I had no other explanation. I wasn’t dead and this didn’t appear to be a dream.
Nothing looked familiar. Who would bring me out to the middle of nowhere and leave me on beach? My heart began to pound.
“Wha- WHat-The fuck!?” I wailed trying to sit up managing only to flail as I was still piss drunk.
In my shuffling I’d knocked into two people on either side of me also laying on the same blanket that I didn’t recognize.
“Where the fuck did this beach come from?! My God, the fuck happened?” I shouted bewildered now on my hands and knees looking up at the ocean. “Holy shit!”
I scanned the entire area for anything remotely familiar but nothing was making sense. “God Damnit! What the fuck!” I rang out in desperation.
Looking back on it now I must have looked like Charlton Heston from the final scene of the movie Planet of the Apes as I struggled with the world I had been presented. Imagine the above scene being reenacted on a family-beach with lots of children watching. The last thing I remember was chugging Jungle Juice in my room and now I was on a distant beach. My commotion had drawn the stares of virtually everyone within fifty yards as I struggled to stand up. “Where the fuck am I?!”
“Taylor calm down!” croaked someone hoarsely laying face down next to me on the blanket.
“Who the fuck are you?” I said looking downwards turning the person next to me over with my foot while hyperventilating.
“Dude, we drove here last night remember?” Said my friend Mike dusting sand off his face, the guy I had been talking with over the internet.
“Drove where Mike!?” I shouted turning around in a full circle open hand gesturing at everyone around us and glaring at a set of old people who looked on from their folding beach chairs in horror.
“Where the fuck is here?! And where are the rest of my clothes, why am I wearing a bathing suit?”
Mike squinted upwards at me while trying not to laugh, “We drove to Dewey beach last night, you don’t remember? You said you were down to go on a road trip, so we went.”
I crumbled back to my knees as every stranger within 30 yards of us continued to rubberneck at me. “And Who the fuck is that?” I exclaimed rolling my hand downwards towards the other person still passed out on the blanket.
Mike looked past me, “That’s Oaf, he came up with us. He offered to pay for half the gas.” Mike said laying his head back down as we both laughed hysterically.
“You mean to fucking tell me we ended up driving to the beach at one thirty in the morning?”
“Must be pretty weird waking up on a beach three hours away huh?” Mike said putting on a pair of sandy sunglasses as we passed out again.
Two hours later I would end up waking up again only to have completely forgotten Mike’s explanation and unknowingly reenacting the entire bewildering scene all over again.
Eventually, we got off the beach in search of food and water. We had slept there almost until noon. While passing sandwich shops and beach restaurants near the boardwalk, Mike explained that I committed to joining him on the trip via instant messenger so that’s why he headed over. He said he walked into the house after we finished the Jungle Juice as the three of us had moved onto drinking what was left of the beer from the party. With a little convincing, I had staggered into his jeep and passed out in the back seat before we got on the highway. Apparently I had gotten caught stealing a snickers bar when we stopped for gas and later stripped naked and ran towards the beach in the parking-lot upon our arrival. This sounded about right.
We spent the remainder of the day exploring Dewey Beach while attempting to flirt with random girls and find a party. It was nearly dark by the time we decided to leave.
When we finally got back I had developed a severe sunburn all over the entire backside of my body and battled with a blinding hangover for two days (my first lesson on not mixing too much sun and alcohol). But to me that kind of adventure was worth it. I wouldn’t have been so eager to take the risk of downing deadly amounts of alcohol today as I had been in those days. But If I had the foreknowledge to see the surprises of my life coming from around the corner, I’d never fall victim to the journey that is life. And I certainly wouldn’t have any worthwhile stories to tell.