The first time, I was a sophomore in high school, maybe a junior. I can't remember. I did it with gin, and not just a little gin, a lot of gin, a tumbler full of gin. I had no idea what alcohol could do to a person. Gin looked like water, so I drank it like water.
I took it from my parents' booze cabinet, filled a blue plastic tumbler with it, smelled it, pinched my nostrils together to keep from having to smell it again, then drank it down so fast, faster than I had time to taste it, a method which seemed the best way to ingest the stuff, it being so rank and all.
I sat in the back of my Leah’s mom’s station wagon on the way to the game. I thought: I don’t feel anything. We were headed to a Capistrano Valley High School football game. By the time I arrived at the stadium, I was swimming, like the stadium was under the ocean. People seemed nicer. I sat in the bleachers and watched the football players scramble, jump and clobber one another over a little ball. Then I sat under the bleachers and looked at the ground. Everything sounded terribly loud. Then somehow I got home, although of course I can't remember how. I don't remember being sick later -- I don't remember anything after the ground under the bleachers.
I do remember that after that I could not drink gin for at least 15 years. I finally had myself a gin and tonic one California summer afternoon with my friends Andrew and Patricia. My taste buds must have regenerated by then. The drink refreshed me -- the effect, lovely.
But my first drunk kicked lovely's butt. It lived so far from lovely, I didn't drink again until I entered college. By the time I got drunk for the second time, I'd forgotten the pain of my first hangover. The second time -- a garage party in a house down the street from LAX -- left another hideous taste in my brain, so I didn't drink again until Spain.