Monday, January 02, 2006

'Tis the Season

What pisses me off about this time of the year (apart from Christmas) is the incessant whining that goes on regarding young people and drinking. Every New Year's it's the same old story with the media running rampant on yet another example of thuggery and yobbo-ism, and it's all attributed to the peril of teenagers and alcohol.

Well, so what? This sort of shit has been happening since time immemorial. Every generation there will be teenagers getting pissed and doing stupid things. It's human nature, it's inevitable, so get over it. Expecting teenagers to behave in a mature fashion is kind of like giving a woman a credit card and expecting her not to shop. It doesn't make any logical sense.

Furthermore, when you stop and think about it, the vast majority of teenagers pull through this phase relatively unscathed and a hell of a lot wiser for their actions. I'm glad I behaved like an idiot in my late teens and early 20's. It taught me a lot of valuable lessons. Such as drinking a bottle of vodka and then trying to siphon petrol out of a car is a really dumb thing to do. A Vodka/petrol cocktail (if it doesn't kill you) gives you the worst hangover you'll ever have and teaches you the true definition of projectile vomiting.

The fact of the matter is this; teenagers will always drink and despite the best intentions of their parents they'll find a way to do it.

The following story is a personal case in point. Back when I was about 16 my parents decided to go away to Christchurch for the weekend. I was left at home on the farm with a long list of tasks and a firm admonishment not to have any parties. My mother was especially firm on this and warned me if I had one there was no way I could get away with it. She'd raised a number of teenagers, she said while wagging her finger at me, and so knew all their tricks. But being 16, invincible, and having no regard for consequences I ignored her entirely and had a small gathering anyway.

The party as such was not a big one. In fact it wasn't really a party at all. Rather it was a collection of me and my mates getting together to get well and truly blasted. The evening consisted of music, beer, bourbon, more beer, vodka, still more beer etc, etc. Needless to say we all got very drunk very quickly and behaved like complete idiots. There was the usual air guitar, a lot of pseudo drumming, and some truly appalling attempts to sing Bachman Turner Overdrive's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet". Interspersed through all of this were the ubiquitous drinking games Whiz, Boing, Bounce, and Fuzzy Duck.

Unfortunately for me I got rather tipsy and reverted to a terrible habit of mine which was to try and hide from my friends by climbing a tall object. In this particular case the watertanks on top of the house. My cunning plan worked really well right up until the point that my friend, who went by the nickname of Sicky (more on him later) spotted my leg, gave it a tug, and down I came. A substantial fall onto the area below the watertanks which just happened to be paved with river boulders. Luckily I wasn't hurt, or at least I didn't think I was as the liquor had provided me with a wonderful anesthesia that suitably complemented my concussion. And that's pretty much where my night ended, I was bundled off to bed, placed in the recovery position (that's something we did know .... so much for feckless youth eh!) where I got to sleep it off.

The next morning possibly rates as the worst of my life. I was in pain. My head hurt, my back, hurt, my bladder hurt, my throat was red raw (I assumed from dry retching), there was a burning pain behind my left eye as if someone had inserted a redhot needle in my skull while I slept, and my stomach felt like someone had turned it inside out and had used it to scrape out a garbage bin. In short I felt like hammered shit. It took me roughly half an hour to drag myself into a sitting position in my bed and then I heard the worst words one can hear in such a situation.

"I've cleaned it up and I think it's OK"

"Oh Christ what the hell have they done" was the thought that flashed across my cortex. More to the point was it something that was going to land me in a world of hurt with my parents? Doing an impression reminiscent of a character from the Night of the Living Dead I dragged myself out of bed and staggered into the living room. There, to my horror, I discovered my friend Rodney in the last stages of trying clean up what appeared to be a lake of vomit from the sea-grass matting that covered the floor.

It turns out my friend Sicky (I told you we would be coming back to him) had been true to his nickname overnight. Half an hour after passing out on the sofa he'd leaned over in his sleep and casually vomited up the remains of a 3 litre cask of vodka and orange mix onto the floor. Poor Rodney, being in the firing line, had been the first to discover the problem and like a mate should had taken steps to remedy the situation.

However good intentions are not always enough as your average teenage boy really knows bugger all about what is the best way to remove sick from a floor-covering. Rattling away back in the back of Rodney's skull was a half remembered tip he'd possibly once overheard his mother talking about. Something about the properties of talcum powder seemed to strike a chord with him. So he ran with it emptying half a container of talcum powder onto the lake of vodka and orange vomit. By the time I arrived on the scene the stain, which originally had been confined to about 40 square cm, had morphed into something about a metre across with the consistency of wet cement.

The incident sparked a mass eviction on my part. My friends were more or less as bad as I was and absolutely no use at all when it came to making any rational attempt to fix matters. In fact they thought it was hilarious ... not surprising considering it wasn't their house, and not their neck on the block. So I kicked them out, opened all the windows to get the alcohol/vomit smell out, cranked up a heater and tried to get the damn stain dry. The rest of the day consisted of burst of heat treatment followed by vigorous brushing with a stiff bristle broom. Clouds of talcum powder and vomit particles were everywhere necessitating frequent dusting and vacuuming episodes. The smell does not bear describing, suffice it to say that it was foul.

For seven hours this went on until about five in the afternoon when I spied my parents driving up the road. Like a demented dervish I flew around the house closing windows, removing cleaning gear, spaying air freshener. In short doing what I could to hide the evidence of the crime that had been committed on our living room. The giant, now pale and bleached out, section of sea-grass matting shone out like a beacon in the middle of the room. I was fucked .. I'd have more chance of hiding a fur seal in the living room than hiding that stain. What to do? In a fit of desperation I rolled the sofa closer to the fireplace and over the top of the stain.

30 seconds later in walked my parents.
"How was your weekend?" asked my mother.
"Pretty quiet, watched a bit of TV" mumbles her nervous son.
"The house looks tidy, oh I see you moved the couch"
"Yeah I thought it'd be better closer to the fireplace now it's winter." (Don't move the couch, dear God please don't let her move the couch)

And blow me down if I didn't get way with it.

For three months, all throughout winter, the sofa hid my crime. That is until late spring when it was rolled back to make more space in the living room. Initially I tried to blame it on the dog, but as he was a farm dog and not allowed in the house that story didn't wash. I was sprung big time. All I could do was look my mother in the eye and say;
"You know that weekend you and Dad went away, y'know the weekend you told me not to have a party 'cos you'd know if I did?"
"Yes" (was it me or had the temperature just dropped?)
"Umm, well I had a small party and there was, well, a small accident"

Surprisingly my mother, a woman not always noted for her even temper, took it in her stride. I suspect she was more miffed that a teenager had got one over her than at the damage done to the floor. Hell she probably wanted a new carpet anyway and I'd given her the perfect excuse to get one.

It was kind of ironic that one month after my parents getting the new carpet my ex-girlfriend, with the help of one of her friends, managed to spill half a bottle of red wine on it. Once again it was another one of those parties I wasn't supposed to be having. It just goes to prove teenage boys don't learn from experience ... well at least not immediately.

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