I hope your 2022 is going well.
Part of last week’s post, I spoke about my time as a bartender and the two customers with their B-52s, and it reminded me of another experience that included B-52s. My friend, Kevin’s eighteenth birthday.
Kevin actually turned eighteen some four months before I did — back in the fall of 1982. Things were a little different back then. The legal drinking age was eighteen but, most of the time, bars didn’t ask for ID. So, by the time Kevin and I hit eighteen, we’d already been going to the bar for nearly two years. It made for a couple of laugh-out-loud moments, when the musicians on-stage would “congratulate” one of us and wish us a happy eighteenth birthday. The looks we got from the waitresses we’d been seeing for the past two years were priceless.
For Kevin’s eighteenth birthday, a group of us took him to the bar and we bought him eighteen B52s. One for each year. As we knew in advance that we were going to do that, I picked him up from his parents house and I elected not to drink that night. I thought if indeed he got through all eighteen B52s, he would definitely need help getting home. As it turned out, I was right.
We closed the bar down that night and Kevin actually did get through all of his B52s. As we left the bar, the bunch of us decided we were hungry and that the pizza place across the parking lot from the bar looked like a pretty good place to eat. So, we guided Kevin across the parking lot, including stepping over several of those concrete stop blocks. You know — they’re about six feet long, a foot high. They sit at the end of parking spaces and when you park, you nudge your car’s bumper up to them.
Ever see a drunk person try to step over something? With the extra-big, uncoordinated steps they think are perfectly normal? It’s as comical in real life as you can imagine.
After we finished eating, at probably about three in the morning, it was time to get Kevin home. We poured him into the passenger seat of my car and headed for his parent’s place. As we pulled into their crescent, Kevin started to open the door! It freaked me out. I thought, “What the hell is he doing??? Does he think he’s home? Is he trying to get out?”
As it turned out, no. Between the B52s, the pizza, and the car ride, Kevin’s stomach decided that enough was enough. Not to be too graphic and gross about it but, he left a trail of vomit from the corner of the crescent all the way to his parent’s driveway.
As we pulled up in front of his parent’s place, Kevin shut the car door and wiped at his mouth.
“You okay?” I asked.
He nodded, looking pale.
“Gonna be okay getting into the house?”
“I’m fine. I’m really fine,” he slurred at me.
“How ’bout work?”
“I’ll leave my mom a note to wake me up in time.”
It makes me shake my head now, but that was about three o’clock Saturday morning and we had to work at nine.
To make sure he got into the house okay, I sat and watched as he staggered up the driveway, tried several times to get the key in the lock, and finally got the door open and made it inside. As I pulled away to head to my parent’s place, I remember hoping he didn’t fall down the stairs on his way to bed.
Next morning, when I got to work, no Kevin. We waited fifteen minutes. Still no Kevin. Finally, we phoned, and when his mom answered, she promised she’d get him up and on his way. What follows is what he told me once he got to work.
He was mad when she woke him up. “I left you a note! Why didn’t you wake me up like the note said?”
She held up a piece of paper. “You mean this?”
She handed it to him. On the piece of paper was a bunch of unintelligible squiggles and marks — the written equivalent of slurred speech. I imagine it looked pretty clear at three-thirty, drunk as a skunk.
To add insult to injury, as some of you know, we worked at McDonald’s. Kevin got to make scrambled eggs all morning.