Thursday, October 20, 2005

Under pressure

To continue the string of weird, ambiguous things that have happened to me lately, on Monday I went to Brooklyn to go to a dinner party with some of my shiny new law school friends. We all got tipsy off of wine, which is acceptable, because it's a dinner. But after the meal, as everyone is relaxing and this writer is ready to start heading back, is it following proper etiquette for a guest to leave the apartment and come back with more alcohol? Like, say, 40 oz bottles of malt liquor, one of which was designated for yours truly?

The night continued, and a group of the guys - young, fratty, sort of decent, mostly well-intentioned guys - were intent on getting me plastered. I said, "But it's Monday," or, "I have a memo due tomorrow," but they were relentless. Every time we took a swig, they said my name: "To Mike D---!" And they would all clink. And stupidly, like a lemming with low tolerance and a paper due, I would drink. The thing is, I can't stand that appellation of my name. My skin crawled every time they said it. But I let them do it.

I drank about 36 of the 40 included ounces. Why? I didn't need it or want it. It was a Monday night, I had work to do, I was in an outer borough. Later all the camaraderie and hearty bonhomie evaporated when I poured the last few ounces of my drink down the sink. Then I was a bitch, a pussy, a loser. Hey, thanks guys. That's what friends are for.

Ever since then I've been mad at myself for succumbing to the peer pressure. Why did I let those dumbasses make me drink? What was I doing? And to have that idiotic toast each time - "To Mike D---!" - it made me angry and shameful. I thought of Tom Wolfe's novel, where the main character's name is her own mantra and reassurance, and now my name, for that evening, to me, represents stupidity, weakness, and useless, pointless, wasted debauchery. I am too old to fall for that shit and too smart to waste my time with people who would do me that way.

At lunch today they resurrected the idea and clinked their water bottles and soda cans. "To Mike D---!" So I left the table and went to the library. Fuck them. If that night was a moment of weakness, it has left me with some clarity as far as putting myself in a different orbit at school. And clarity is the name of the game.

Yet, in this week of verbal assaults, peer pressure, and unexpected intoxication, there has been one great thing -- and her name is Toni Braxton. More on that topic soon.

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