Cape Carteret, NC
When I was thirteen, after much convincing, my parents left me home alone one Friday night. They and my sister went to Jacksonville to go thrift store shopping. After that, they’d get pizza at Tony’s and walk around the mall. I knew that’s what they’d do because that’s what we always did on Friday night. But now that I was a teenager, I had other plans: I would listen to 96.3, the Hot FM, and call a girl in Newport that I had a crush on. Also, I would make my first cocktail.
As soon as they pulled out of the driveway, I used a chair to reach the bottles in the cupboard: Goldschlager, Two Fingers tequila, Gordon’s gin, Myer’s rum (dark) and a bottle of something called port. I poured a shot of each into a clear plastic cup decorated with pink fish. The drink seemed kind of weak, so I topped it off with the port. That’s when it turned black. The gold flakes from the Goldschlager suggested wealth and sophistication, but overall, the drink came up a tad short: It looked like something that seeped out of a landfill. It was, I imagined, how the breath of a sleeping bum might smell.
But I’d gone too far to turn back.
I decided to step out onto the back steps. The sun was setting through the pine trees, and the bricks were warm under my feet. I pinched my nose, held my breath and began chugging.
I got one gulp down, then two…that’s when gag reflexes refilled my cup. Now the mixture was both black and bubbly. Getting it down became more of an exercise in determination rather than pleasure. I…will…drink this.
On the second try it stayed down, but my mouth was watering pretty bad. Had I burped now, it would have been all over. I went inside to search for a stick of Big Red, refill the liquor bottles with water and put them back in the cabinet.
Upstairs, I turned on the radio and lied against my pillow, watching the walls spin in a good way. Salt-n-Pepa’s “Shoop” came on, and then something else. I went downstairs and looked at topless women in my dad’s Easyriders magazine. Next I microwaved a Stouffer’s lasagna and fed our German shepherd, Zan. As the TV dinner cooled, I took the .22 rifle from the closet and shot it into the air in the front yard like Yosemite Sam. This scared Zan, so I took my lasagna from the microwave and ate it on the floor beside her.
I’d once heard that if you’re pulled over by the police while drinking, you should keep your answers short so they don’t smell your breath. “Yep,” for instance, would be ideal. That was the mindset I employed when my family returned from Jacksonville.
"Did you have a good time?"
"Did you feed the dog?"
"Did anyone call for us?"
Someone had called, but of course that answer would have required an incriminating response. More gum was chewed and breath was held during hugs. I don’t recall what I said before slinking back to my room; however, during the course of my furious one-man party, I never did call Andrea, the girl I had a crush on.