Anyone who has been drinking for more than a year will be able to tell you what drink they avoid like the plague. This is the drink that makes us do things we should never do, it’s our booze enemy. Everyone has a “worst night ever” and a “I’m never drinking (insert liquor here) again” story. I have a few of these liquors in my life but none that haunt me quite like the demon that is tequila. Tequila has made me do things that include but aren’t limited to: eating my birthday cake with my hands like a one year old (there were forks, I just chose not to use them), having a domestic dispute with my roommate outside of a McDonald’s and shouting “GET YOUR OWN DAMN CHICK NUGS” at 3am, or ruining Valentine’s Day for perfectly nice strangers.
The worst part of having this type of relationship with a liquor is that you know what it does to you but you ignore the cold hard facts repeatedly. You tell yourself that this time you will drink in moderation and really show everyone that you’ve learned to handle yourself. You won’t be walking home with one flip flop on and crying into your phone because you can’t remember what your new apartment number is, no ma’am, you will be in bed at a normal time and sans hangover. You are telling yourself lies, because your regret liquor won’t let you do that – it will make you question your very being the next day as you look through your outgoing calls and read your incoherent texts.
My first real brush with my once and future frenemy, tequila, was on the night before my 21st birthday. My birthday is February 15th, the day after Valentine’s Day. This is great for many reasons – gentleman admirers can buy me roses and chocolate at discount prices, friends and family can easily remember the date, and restaurants are typically not overbooked the day after Valentine’s Day. Unfortunately, for most of the patrons of La Fiesta in Pittsburgh, my friends took me out for my 21st birthday dinner the night before my birthday.
La Fiesta was not the classiest joint, but it was BYOB and lax about carding. Since a majority of my friends were not yet 21, it was the perfect place for birthday dinner. There was a group of over 15 of us rolling in with boxes of Franzia Crisp White and Sunset Blush and my crush at the time, known as Dreamweaver by my college roomies, had decided to buy me a bottle of tequila to celebrate my Mexican themed night out. The night started off okay, a few shots of tequila for me, glasses of wine all around the table and lots of food and fun.
Then suddenly I was wearing a sombrero, my hair was pulled up in a bun and a birthday crown was on my head and I was profusely sweating through my v-neck sweater. I was also sporting some serious wine stained teeth, and there were stickers on my chest that spelled out happy birthday. I was the very definition of hot mess.
I blame the tequila for what happened next. There was cake and everyone sang Happy Birthday. The other patrons in the restaurant, young couples trying to enjoy a Valentine’s Day dinner together over a bottle of wine, even clapped for me. I was excited to share my birthday with such nice strangers who had also seemed to bring me flowers (nope, not for you drunk Erin, why would strangers do that?).
I took the applause after my birthday serenade as a cue to deliver a speech… TO THE WHOLE RESTAURANT. I stood and raised a bottle of tequila and then thanked everyone in the room for coming out to celebrate my special day. I shook hands with couples at the tables nearest to mine and acted like we were best friends. I gave a speech that I don’t remember that ended with me loudly proclaiming to the room that it was my personal goal to be the white Oprah. Why this came up in a birthday speech is still beyond me.
After a long and likely hilariously uncomfortable speech, I toasted myself and then began chugging out of the bottle of tequila. I know this only because the photo evidence above. I’m not proud. I want to tell you that I went home and went to bed. I want to tell you that I didn’t call my mom at 3 in the morning and wake her up to thank her for birthing me. I want to tell you that I didn’t make anyone stick fingers down my throat so I could vomit because I couldn’t do it myself. But I can’t tell you things that aren’t true, I respect you too much.
This was my first brush with tequila disaster and shame. I’d like to tell you that I learned my lesson, but I think we’ve met. Two weeks ago I was out with my friends Molly and Shanyn for drinks. We were doing an all you can drink situation for one and a half hours. This seemed reasonable as we were planning only to get a little buzz before taking a taxi back and going to bed at a decent hour. Being the responsible 29 year old that I am, I decide to order the same drink all night because I’ve learned my lessons about mixing. I drank gin and gingers for most of the night until our friend Shane unexpectedly showed up. Shane was sober and we were pretty drunk but because we are such nice friends, we decided to suck it up and extend our all you can drink order for another hour. Disaster.
Suddenly I’m ordering Long Island Iced Teas. I ask the bartender if I can take a gander at his bottle of Macallan 18 and then pour myself a glass when I think he’s not looking. Then we’re playing a drinking game with the bartenders that involves clapping and you guessed it — shots of tequila. My night escapes me after this. There are pictures I don’t remember. I successfully managed to make it to another bar after vomiting in the bathroom of the first and not telling anyone. My night ended with my head in Molly’s kitchen sink because the bathroom sink and toilet sink were occupied by other barfers. Tequila, I just can’t quit you. You win, you always do.
There are more tequila stories, but I’ll save them for another time. A time when the memory of barfing in two separate bar bathrooms within the span of an hour is a distant memory and not something I feel like I am still having hideous flashbacks to.
PS – Dear Mom, if you are reading this, I apologize for calling you at 3am on the eve of my 21st birthday, that must have sucked – good thing I’m your favorite. Right?