Dear Michael and Caroline,
I’m driving drunk out of my skull along Route 4 in Northern New Jersey, heading home from my school, Fairleigh Dickinson University. I’m 20 years old, a junior in college, and really drunk, the most ever, the absolute drunkest, and driving a car, a blue 1968 Chevelle.
I’m so drunk I’m actually driving blind. I can hardly see the road in front of me, much less any other cars, and I’m squinting and blinking, squinting and blinking as if this act will somehow clear up my blurred vision.
And because I’m such a smart young man, so reliable and responsible, I’m doing something other than driving drunk here at 2 in the morning.
I’m also speeding.
Oh, yeah, I’m racing along at easily 65, 70 miles an hour, pretty much how fast you should always drive if you find yourself utterly unable to see. My logic for this folly was infallible. I figured that the faster I drove, the sooner I would get home – hence, less time on the road, lowering the odds of an accident.
So I’m blazing along there, driving blind drunk, both scared out of my wits and believing I’ve got the situation under control.
How I got that drunk is this: I went to a party for the school newspaper, held in its office, a cinderblock basement affair. I’d just transferred to this school, from a junior college in Boston, and joined the paper, then called Tarrevir (“river rat” spelled backwards because the Teaneck campus lay on the Hackensack River), just as I had belonged to the paper in Boston. I think the party was to start the new school year, to celebrate it.
And I’m there knowing almost nobody. It seems everyone there knows almost everyone else except me. So I help myself to some punch in a bowl.
It tastes really sweet, obviously some fruit juice, maybe orange and pineapple and cranberry. And soon I feel this tickle ripple through my bloodstream and into my head, the onset of the condition known as tipsy.
I ladle out some more punch into my cup and keep sipping away until tipsy graduates to drunk. Now I know everyone there and everyone knows me. My loneliness is suddenly gone, replaced by a sense of warm fraternity.
And now I’m driving blind drunk from school to home, no more than six or seven miles, from Teaneck to Fair Lawn, passing the Bergen Mall and the Garden State Plaza, the drunkest ever, feeling as good as I’ve ever felt, invulnerable.
P.S. – See part 2 tomorrow.