Despite my promise last week to never drink again, I drank again this weekend.
Look, I’m not an alcoholic or anything, it just would have been really socially awkward to not drink this weekend. And the last thing I want to do is make people feel uncomfortable. In a way, I was being altruistic! And I’m not even suggesting I should get an award or anything. It was Matthew’s 21st, ok? I had to drink at my little brother’s party. Unfortunately for Matt though, he had to drink more.
Angus, my littlest brother, told me about this interview with a 104-year old woman. The interviewer asked her what the best thing was about being 104; she answered, “No peer pressure”. Matt, however, has no shortage of peers at the sprightly age of 21 (which he officially turns today, 3 May). Unlucky for him, his loyal mates had no skaam about getting him completely and totally wasted.
Angus and I flew up two days before from Cape Town to Pretoria, our home town and the city of choice for the big party. Unlike a lot of things, you only turn 21 once (you only turn 24 once too, but who cares? It’s such a random age.) Matthew’s 21st is worth ten trips to Joburg (or one to South America). My aunt Suzanne and her wife (yes, she’s a lesbian artist. I have hippie roots – explains a lot, doesn’t it?) had flown up from Plett, my dad flew down from Seattle, and my friend Lienkie – who I have literally known my whole life, she’s basically my older sister – flew up from Pietermaritzburg, where she’s doing what the med students call her ‘Zuma’ years. Anyway. My point is that this was no ordinary birthday party.
Early in the evening I was walking in between the dinner tables to the bar when I bumped into – in the milieu of people, balloons, empty bottles and luminescent accessories – Matthew. His white and green jersey was glowing under the black light, and his face was covered in lumo green stars. Someone had also, with lumo face paint, drawn a twirly moustache under his button nose. (Not sure if you picked that up, but the theme was lumo.) His eyes were wild, and he reeked of booze. He seemed panicky as he grabbed my arm and pulled me urgently to his side. “Sam,” he said desperately, “Save me from the bar!”
His eyes were a bit bloodshot and he was weaving a little. His grip on my arm was firm and he looked a tad scared. His friends – 80 of his closest were at this bash – had been buying him shots and drinks and drinks and shots and shots and tequila! and shots and drinks at the bar for over an hour now. The booze had clearly started to circulate his bloodstream and was playing havoc with his cerebellum.
I really wish I’d taken Matt’s desperate plea seriously. Because three hours and probably several Jagermeisters later, Matthew was covered in cheesecake. That is not a euphemism. He was literally covered in cheesecake. It was the pudding and his friends – I still have no idea how or why this started – picked up slices of his favourite dessert and smooshed it stickily on his face. He gaped hopelessly, cheesecake gluing his eyelids together while he groped blindly for the madly giggling perpetrators.
By 11pm Matt was violently ridding his body of booze (and food), and by midnight he was out like a drunken light.
For Angus and I, however, as well as a bunch of Matt’s friends, the party wasn’t quite done yet. We changed venues, from the aircraft hanger filled with train carcasses, to our house. Our house has a reputation for hosting awesome parties, and the after party was no exception. It helps that Matt’s friends are really fun, even though they’re way too tall. OK, I am a perfectly respectable 158cm tall. Now, though this is a very good height (I can understand if you’re jealous) it’s easy to feel teeny tiny next to people like Ciaran and Charlie. Charlie picked me up like I was a doll and Ciaran is 201cm tall. Which is a bit more than me. With or without heels. These guys taught me to play a new drinking game (well, new to me) called Coinage. The point of the game is to bounce a coin into another person’s cup (everyone has their own), thus forcing them to drink. Now with my astonishing lack of hand-eye coordination, I didn’t see this game going very well. Several drinks later, I was right. It didn’t go very well. For me.
The next morning I stumbled out of bed to get some coffee. It looked like some kind of disaster had struck our house. There were drunken bodies everywhere, with or without blankets.
Matthew’s friends may have got him uncontrollably wasted, but the fact is they love him. I realised that guys (or at least Matt’s friends) show their love with shooters instead of hugs. Matthew’s such a kind, caring, funny, intelligent person, I’m not surprised all his mates showed him how much they care with 9856 789 342 shots. The fact that he filled a room with over 80 people that vied for his attention all night shows that. He’s a great friend and a great brother, and I feel so lucky to him in my life. Happy 21st Matthew!