I was fourteen and fat. I had a handful of friends, and they were the best friends in the world.
My twin sister, Rebecca, went to an all girls prep school, which was a great advantage to me. She knew a plethora of girls that never saw boys, and if they did, they still were not sure what to do or say around them. It worked out beautifully. In some ways, it still does.
Regardless, I was fourteen and fat, and had never been drunk before. This was before I enjoyed what looked back at me in the mirror and wanted to have sex with myself. This was before I had ever been to a house party, and this is what this story is about: my first house party.
Rebecca had a friend named Faun who was a child of two hippy parents and a product of a loose upbringing. She was the kind of girl that held your hand just to tease you- the kind of girl that knew how to walk past you and own your eyes and the room she occupied at the same time- the kind of girl who knew what to talk about when she was stoned and fourteen. My best friend, Dave, lived across the street, and had a connection with her. That's when I learned what the word vicarious meant.
"Faun's parents are going out of town, Matt. She's having some kind of party. All the girls are gonna be there and Faun wants Dave to come, and you too." That was what Rebecca said to me at four o'clock in the afternoon on Friday the 13th 1994. I told Dave. His eyes lit up, and he knew exactly what we needed to do. He was wealthy to say the least. When he asked his parents for twenty dollars he got double or triple. That night, he got double, and we walked up to Rick's Surf Shop and got two new Rip Curl T-shirts to wear to this party- our first house party.
This kind of excitement you really can't re-create post adolescence. When all you knew were your buddies. Before you understood the mystery of breasts and the proper way to French kiss, you could feel that excitement, when a Friday in ninth grade could change everything. Anything could happen. Now don't get me wrong, I like my life now. I get excited about the new season of Entourage or spanking someone new, but nothing compares to that excitement.
Dave told his parents he was sleeping at my place and vice versa. Same plan different household. It's the quintessential way to make this situation work. Rebecca got a ride there from her friend's mother, and Dave and I walked off to the next town unprepared for the night in front of us. As we approached the house, we could hear the sounds of the backyard. Music, glasses and bottles clinking and what seemed to be a lot of different voices, older voices.
Upon entering the house, we realized something. There were older people at this party, much older. . . college older. Faun had a sister, who was a junior in college, and this was during break. So, there was some chugging going on in polo shirts. Now, if I was one of these college kids and I saw me at fourteen, a chubby kid wearing glasses with red hair walking into a house party, I would like to show him a good time, and maybe even take him over the edge. Well, that's what these dudes did, and then some.
Dave ran off to greet Faun, my sister, and the rest of the girls. A tall jock-y, probable frat boy with a goatee took me under his wing and asked me a question. "You ever try a rum and coke?" To which I replied, "no." Then he asked, "ever been drunk?" to which I replied, "no." That's when he handed me a 7-11 Big Gulp cup clinking with ice and liquid and told me to drink the whole thing right in front of him. I did as he asked, and he refilled it. I thought it tasted like Disney World. It tasted like liquid Candy. It tasted good, and it made me feel funny. Not strange funny, but funny funny.
I instantly started walking differently. I remember that. I was in a basement filled with kids all doing things they were not supposed to be doing, and I liked it. I gravitated toward my sister and her friends, and there was Dave, smoking pot with Faun. She was overly flirty with him, alluding to the fact that there was a bedroom upstairs. Man her stomach looked good. Even now at twenty-seven years old, I can remember the glow of her exposed midriff. There were other girls there. I didn't care. I-felt-good. This huge cup of mine was on its third need for refilling and as I turned around to go back upstairs and acquire one, the tall frat boy and his friends were right there to replace it. "Havin fun kiddo? He would say to me. "Yea, this shit tastes like candy." I began cursing more as the drunker I got. I just felt cool. I began to feel invincible. Rum and coke, yup, it made me feel unstoppable.
That's when I fell down and puked on that basement rug like that rug needed my vomit to save its life. The basement cringed with disgust and I remember not being able to move. All I could hear was my sister and Dave arguing over who should clean it up for at least 45 minutes. I crashed. I drank too much, too fast, and for the first time.
I don't remember much about the rest of that night, only portions. The rest would be filled in for me for the next day and for the years to come. At some point, I got up from the basement and was given another drink, and convinced to chug, which of course I did. I left my friends behind and stumbled around the party. Eventually, I made my way past the people smoking pot, making out, and screaming the lyrics to Wu Tang Clan, and walked out the front door.
Now what happened next and from this point on I don't remember at all, but like I said was filled in for me. There was a rumor in this town of a bully. A bully named T-bone who was in his second senior year in High School, a "super senior". Rumors of his torment and rage surfaced all the time. "Did you hear what T-bone did last weekend? T-Bone has guns, that kind of stuff. Well there was a group of kids in the street and the were approaching the party. I walked right up to them as some of the boys in the party tried to prevent the approaching team from entering. I listened and, remember I was a wise ass that was invincible. Well I walked up to the tallest of them all and said, "We got Doritos inside bro, but you cant have any!" Well I got beat up, bad. I know that. T-Bone destroyed me. His Boss jeans and his Timberland boots had their way with my fragile 14-year-old body. I'm pretty sure now at my age I could buy more Doritos than him, while he gets the Path Mark Brand nacho chips.
Then, the same boys that allowed me to drink that much rum and coke had some fun with Matt McManus. They thought it would be nice to duct tape me to a skateboard and roll me down the driveway/street, all the while making me squeal like a pig. You might ask why none of my friends stopped this. I still ask myself the same question. Their excuse was that they were in basement and I was upstairs.
I woke up in the sunlight, with a skateboard duct taped to my back. I felt a pain in my head that I could not relate to any other pain. It was my very first hangover mixed with the wounds of getting my ass beat. I was in the grass of Faun's front yard. My shirt was bloody and full of vomit. So I walked inside. It was silent. Random people were sleeping everywhere, and the house smelled like a soccer field after a long game. The pain I felt warranted me to look at my own reflection and what I saw was a bloody and bruised mess. I had no recollection how I acquired these injuries. I was deathly thirsty so I opened the fridge and drank a carton of orange juice not knowing that was the worst thing for my hung over system. I also ate two whole peaches. I began to feel worse. Eventually Rebecca woke up and so did Dave.
I began to walk back outside, pulling the tape off my torn shirt that was purchased just one day prior. I began to puke all over the front lawn on that Saturday morning. Death would have probably been easier for me. Simultaneously as I was puking outside I heard my sister call me back inside, because I was unaware that my mother was coming to pick her up right then and there, that's when my mom pulled into the driveway in our minivan, and I puked all over the grass again.
Instantly, my mother knew what went down. She always did, and still does. My mom knows when I've had unprotected sex, and I don't even have unprotected sex. (Unless I'm in a relationship, which I'm not, and we've both been tested, and she's on the pill) Anyways I got in the front seat. Dave and Rebecca got in the back seat. Nothing was said until my mom pulled over and began to scream at me. All I really remember, and which I actually followed through with was that she said, "If I ever catch you drinking, or doing drugs you will get kicked out of my house before you can say the words Marijuana Funhouse." And I didn't I didn't drink again until my senior prom, but that's a whole other fiasco.
The hangover didn't subside for about two days, or at least it felt like. I really never wanted to drink again. I even threw away the pot plants I was growing behind the shed in my backyard. With the absence of drinking, I became an avid pot smoker until my senior year of high school. The lesson I learned, I learned hard. It's the drinking equivalent of dealing with death in real life. I learned what "the worst that can happen to you" really was. To this day the smell of rum and coke makes me feel fourteen, vulnerable, horrendous, invincible, and amazing.