Tequila used to be a favorite alcohol of mine. In fact, for about a year of my life, Jose Cuervo was our staple for parties. It was cheap and spicy and didn’t require a mixer or chaser. It was the perfect party bottle. I loved it right up until the night I snorted some.
I blame Australia… and my rarely-emerging competitive streak.
I heard an unmistakably Kiwi accent one night while cocktail waitressing. I’d recently moved back to Milwaukee after having spent a year studying abroad in New Zealand. Hearing a Kiwi thrilled me. After briefly introducing myself, I did something that I never did while working… I gave the boy my phone number. “Call me up if you need a guide to the city,” I told him.
The night he called, I happened to be throwing a party and I invited him. He came and brought his Australian friend along.
I had told my roommates that random visitors would be joining us. Also, I told all my friends that we had to show these guys what a typical college party was like. An hour later the boys were in the basement playing beer pong and flip cup. Success!
The Kiwi was actually a little dull, and he left early. The Aussie was loving the party though. As per usual, we had a bottle of Jose Cuervo Lime in the house for party shots. So we introduced the Aussie to another American drinking tradition… body shots. Pretty soon he was licking salt off various body parts and biting limes from the mouths of 21 year old girls.
“Want to see how we drink tequila in Australia?” He asked, wiping lime juice off his lips.
“Of course,” I said. We had a collection of about seven people standing in the kitchen. Everyone else was in the basement.
He flipped the shot glass upside down on the counter. “See this little divot?” He pointed to the bottom of the shot glass, which was now facing the ceiling. Everyone in the kitchen peered at the glass and nodded. “We pour tequila in there and snort it.”
The room was silent for a moment. I said, “I’m not doing that.”
Greg said, “I’ll try it,” and stepped forward.
We flipped over another shot glass and poured two ant-portioned shots into the divots. The Aussie and Greg bent over the counter and sniffed forcefully. All eyes were on Greg as he straightened up. “Woah,” he said.
Another guy stepped forward. “I’ll do it too,” he said.
“I’m not,” I repeated.
I stayed in the kitchen watching the Aussie match my guy friends mini shot for shot. Sam was standing beside me. 90% of the time we hung out we were partners in crime. 10% we were competitive as shit.
He’d grown tired of watching all the other guys snort snots, and he said, “I’ll do one.”
“Fuck it,” I said. “Me too.”
The Aussie refilled the two divots. Sam and I bent forward, plugging our non snorting nostrils and watching each other. Someone counted for us. “One, two, three….” And with that, I sniffed with all my might.
My nose instantly burned and half my head felt hot. Sam was squinting the eye above his snorting nostril and I was holding my head. Mental communication: Why did we DO that!?
I spent the rest of the party in the basement, drinking beer and staying far from the liquor.
Late into the following afternoon I finally woke up. Half of my brain felt okay, but the other half had a raging hangover. It’s like the brain cells in the right side of my brain were pissed off that I’d showered them with lime flavored tequila so they’d decided to riot.
It sucked then, and it still sucks now.
Two weeks ago a stranger offered me a shot of Patron, a once-favorite of mine. The smell from his shot glass drifted to my nose and triggered the five year old memory. Irrationally, I felt a slight phantom pain in the right half of my brain. I politely thanked him, and declined.
(written in 2011)