They all warned me. Cider was different, they said. Fermentation process, absorbed differently by your body, yadda yadda. All I knew was that it tasted a hell of a lot better than beer. I drank the wussy cider, Strongbow, decried by just about everyone I met who cared about alcohol. I didn’t understand much about alcohol, and I wouldn’t say that it tasted good, but I could drink it without cringing, which was a huge step up from just about everything other alcohol I had tried at that point.
And naturally, it tasted better the more I drank.
We were having an after-office party at a pub as a goodbye celebration for one of the interns. I asked for Strongbow, and was handed a pint. Fuck. I wanted just a half-pint, but the omission of a size seemed to have told the bartender that I was so badass, it should not be inferred that I would drink anything smaller than a pint. The word pint implies that something is diminutive, but there was nothing pintsize about this beast. 20 ounces instead of the standard 16 in a pint/Solo cup, its massive presence bears down on you as you precariously balance the topped-up glass to your table.
Barkeep, I am not badass. I weigh a smidge over a hundred pounds, and am not exempt from the stereotypical Asian intolerance to alcohol. Everyone else at the table knew this, and were rightly concerned about my ability to finish such a drink and still be decent.
I ended up surprising both myself and my friends. I had no problem downing it, and wasn’t feeling too bad for having drunk more in one sitting than I had cumulatively drunk in my entire life. I was buzzed, happier, both mellower and more outgoing.
We left to find a pub with a kitchen still open to serve us up some dinner. One guy knew of a great place within walking distance with great fishcakes. Sure, I guess, I like fishcakes. We pay a nominal cover fee and then go get our grub. I try the fishcakes, naturally, and I get a half pint of cider. I’d feel weird not drinking anything, and besides, I’d process everything faster with food in me.
This is where the story ought to take the turn along the lines of, Steven didn’t process everything faster, he instead drank that drink, got totally pissed, and was kicked out of the bar. Otherwise it’d be a pretty boring story.
This story will not disappoint, but it climaxed a lot faster than I thought (that’s what he said!). I had barely had a few sips and a few bites before I started feeling nauseous. I’m wondering whether it was the fishcakes, as my eyes glaze over and I clutch my stomach. The English intern asks if I’m alright, and I shake my head no, which shakes loose the stars that are multiplying in my eyes.
I’m escorted to the bathroom: I stand up, I walk, and then suddenly I am horizontal. I have no recollection of falling or landing, and in fact it took me a minute to get my bearings and realize that I was actually on the floor staring at the ceiling. I know it’s the ceiling because it sure as hell didn’t look like the room I was just in. I was later told that I had fallen by a group of girls who thought they had tripped me, and cried out, “oh my god, is he okay?”
I was feeling…not much of anything, I suppose. I didn’t feel myself hit the floor, could barely feel my limbs as I was helped up, and didn’t feel the hands on my shoulder slowly guiding me down the flight of stairs to the bathroom on the ground floor. At the time I was pretty scared I’d fall down, but thought to myself hey, I’m actually doing pretty well! Then I ran into a wall.
I see the toilet, but I don’t feel like throwing up. It’s just nausea, not anything worse. Air? Yes please. My mind recalls its map of the pub, but it’s tough when the static in my eyes obscures anything past my hands. This is where I definitely know I’m being led, out towards the cool air and much brighter static of the outside world. We pass the gate fencing in the pub and outdoor tables, and my friend explains to the bouncers that his friend needs some air but he’d be back. A password is exchanged, and then he’s sitting down in front of me as I rest with my back against a wall.
The air feels nice. I’m still way out of it, but at least I can’t fall. Hopefully. He says he’ll walk me home, but as soon as he heads inside to tell the other guys, I start to regain my composure. The static clears up slowly but surely; I can make out cars and a building and the street. It’s still bright as fuck but within a minute I can finally see colors and shapes again. It’s no more than two before my friend returns, and I’m feeling no more buzzed than right after I finished that first pint. I’m fine, I’m fine, but he insists on walking me the few blocks to my home. I oblige him.
He’s dubious the whole trip back that I’m alright, but chalks it up to a fast metabolism. Hit me quickly, but left just as speedily. We part ways at my door, and I go upstairs to wash up and settle in to get some shut-eye. The only part of the experience that I missed was the hangover, and for that I am quite glad. I got away quite scot-free, just a few scrapes on my hand from when I hit the wall and a few sympathetic queries from those who learned about my experience from my friend’s Facebook status. Damn my boss for actually using Facebook, damn him.