“Dude, I have never laughed as hard as I did last night when you intentionally vomited on that couple in the booth.”
“Don’t you remember? At the Rio.”
“We went to the Rio?”
“Jesus man, yeah, right before we got thrown out and you left to walk to your ex’s house.”
It happens to even the most moderately accomplished drinkers. In addition to an above-average hangover, you wake up with a vague feeling of unease and the sense that your memories of last night are a lot sparser than they should be. One moment it’s 11 p.m. and you’re yelling, “Fuck yeah! Wild Turkey Time! Bawk Bawk Bawk!” and the next you’re waking up on the floor next to your bed with injuries of indeterminate origin, someone else’s denim jacket and a frontal lobe trying to secede from the rest of your head. What the fuck happened?
As you begin to piece your identity back together, a sordid tale emerges from the disjointed scraps of evidence around your room. The half-eaten economy-sized bag of Chili Cheese Fritos and four melted ice cream bars suggest you stopped by a convenience store on the way home, but the shopping cart in your doorway is from Safeway, and that’s a mile and a half down the road. A slow tour of the house reveals the lights are all on, the door is wide open, the CD player is looping Air Supply at full volume, your roommate is missing and there’s a strange dog on his bed. When you finally locate your phone, you check the outgoing calls and find, with horror, that your ex-girlfriend is listed five different times between the hours of 12 and 4 am, interspersed by attempts to contact various family members who are no doubt feverishly planning interventions at that very moment. At this point, between the damage that you have caused your residence and reputation, and the depleted serotonin levels of your brain’s pleasure centers, you might be tempted to ask why you keep doing this to yourself, or even swear off demon rum altogether.
And that would be a tragic mistake. The last thing that anyone should ever do is feel ashamed of blacking out. You were trying to get drunk last night and, goddamnit, mission accomplished. Sometimes we must close our minds to the horrors of the world, especially if we happen to be the father of those horrors. Do not, under any circumstances, explain yourself or apologize to anyone for your actions. Also, never admit you don’t remember anything. When you talk to witnesses who possess the unmitigated nerve to remember everything, make casual inquiries as if your were asking about the weather, not the burning of the Hindenburg. Subtly bring the topic around to the nights events and ask a lot of indirect questions to see if you can piece together what actually happened, like a detective. A sample conversation might go as follows:
Drunk: “That was some wacky stuff last night, eh?”
Potentially Hostile Witness: “Um, yeah, until all the trouble at Bruce’s.”
D: “Ha ha, yeah . . . when did you leave that place?”
PHW: “I left with you, remember? I didn’t have much of a choice after you peed in the corner and got us all thrown out.”
D: “Oh, right, yeah, ha ha, kooky, kooky stuff . . . was Kathy still with us?”
PHW: “No, not after you puked on her. Jesus Christ, don’t you remember anything?”
D: “Oh, no, I totally remember. I was just curious if you did.”
The premise behind every action movie ever created is essentially the same. Evil people with nonspecific European accents kill/kidnap/hijack the wifebeater-wearing hero’s friend/family/chosen-means-of-public-transit, giving the hero an opportunity to behave in ways that would be completely unacceptable under any other circumstances. Deep down inside, everyone really wants to be able to shoot Uzi’s through large windows and jump-kick Austrians off of motorcycles, but they never get the chance. The public generally frowns upon demanding a sports car at gunpoint, engaging in a high-speed chase down city streets and firing assault weapons out the window until the car you’re chasing runs into a the ubiquitous gas truck and explodes. In movies however, because of the earlier trespasses of the villainous Euros, action stars are allowed to do things that most only experience vicariously.
Great blackouts operate on the same basic principle. People who don’t drink to spectacular excess will never know the unique fulfillment of announcing to a full bar that the bouncer is a Hitler-lover or the convenience of urinating in a dryer. The true blackout is a complete break with the constraints of civil society and social taboos, a glorious and unchained romp through the garden of pure desire and action. Go wild, and take advantage of your chance to do what others have only guiltily imagined.
There are a couple of preparations you can take to optimize your blackouts. First, and I’m sure you’re on top of this already, train yourself to drink far beyond your limit. Think of drinks ten through twenty as an evil cadre of kickboxing Aryan drug smugglers, who must be killed without remorse to avenge the betrayal and death of your aged karate-master. The last thing you want to do is to sober up in the midst of a sex romp with a 50-year-old bartender named Bubbles and her vast cadre of stuffed animals. Once you enter a blackout, you don’t want to come out of it until all your sordid adventures safely buried in the murky past.
Second, use a technique I call ‘planting the seed.’ Early in the evening, while you’re still somewhat restrained, try to think of things that you wouldn’t ever do, but would kind of like to. Things like “Someone should piss on that motherfucker’s porch,” “If that fucking band plays one more Eagles songs I’m going to seize the microphone, identify myself as the Commadante of Good Taste and launch into a spirited rendition of ‘Brass Monkey,’ or “If I could get up enough speed, I bet I could sprint down the bartop, leap over the taps, grab the chandelier, and swing right out the door like a goddamn pirate.”
Next thing you know, the “Porch,” “Desperado Brawl” and “Ass Kicked by By the Entire Bar” stories will become permanent parts of your social group’s lore. And when you think about it, isn’t that all that really matters?
Try to make your next one a blackout worth trying to remember.