Symptoms of a Dragon’s Bite

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I make a point of excluding stories on this blog that only exist because the subjects of the story were drunk. Although I love telling a handful of famous drunken stories face-to-face, I don’t write them here for a few reasons. First, everyone does ridiculous things when they are drunk; the anecdotes collected here are about the characters and their choices, not the ethanol in their bloodstreams. Second, drunken stories are almost solely enjoyable to listen to when you know the person — their usual boundaries and conduct, and how they subverted them on this occasion. Lastly, stories with drinking or drugs can just be debased and inauthentic. The story below is an exception to this rule. Not because it’s “just so good I had to tell it”, but more because the alcohol isn’t an overwhelming attribute of the story. Also, it was one of my first times drinking ever, so there’s an innocence in that. 

There was a guy at my school who’s parents must have abandoned him for a period, because in grade 9 or 10, because he hosted a series of parties that gathered some notoriety. Multiple weekends in a row, his house was the place to be. No “backyard only” or “stay in the basement” limits either, this was free rein, main floor madness. I might have had gym class with him, but I didn’t know the guy that well. It didn’t matter though, because like the shoe policy at his house, the guest list was pretty lax.

I had missed the first or second party, so when word got out he was continuing his streak, my friend Nick and I assured that we would be there. We covered our bases and split the fee of getting a senior student to buy alcohol for us. I remember it clearly because this was the first time I was paying someone to get booze for me, instead of just bumming some off my older brother or my friends. And apparently my older brother was unavailable because our benefactor ended up being a man whom to this day I still know only as Doug the Dragon. Doug got his moniker because of a less-than-exceptional tattoo on his calf of a dragon coiled up. He asked us what we wanted and we said beer, because that’s what you say. He asked us how much we wanted and we said enough for two of us to drink plus some leftovers. He said he would bring it to the party. That worked for us.

When Friday night came, Nick and I were unsurprisingly some of the first people to show up. We had to do that awkward thing of waiting on the couches until people started arriving, plus we had no drinks. Luckily, our friends weren’t far behind and the house filled up before long. Still, at that age, it is essentially a crime to not have a drink in your hand at a party. Nick and I were questioned repeatedly by our increasingly drunk peers to the point where I picked up a discarded bottle with some remnants in the bottom just to appear inconspicuous. Doug the Dragon was late. He was starting to look like a bad choice of supplier until we finally saw him from across the room. We hurried over, paid him, and he handed us a 24 pack of pilsner in bottles. Shit. Nick and I were both biking home, and bottles were heavier and louder than we wanted. That wasn’t our primary concern though — we had some catching up to do. We shoved the case of beer in a corner, put back as many as we could and had a great night. 

Nick ended up leaving earlier than I did. He took his half of the leftover beers; what remained after our binge and what some classmates must have stolen. I didn’t last much longer than him, but when I decided it was time for my ten minute ride home, I was a little more unsteady than I would have liked. That was okay though, it was all downhill. I loaded the 7 bottles into my string-tie backpack and got on my way. It was easy. No problems. Until I had to actually pedal the last section to my house. The delay in reaction time was a real issue as I went to correct a wobble and steered too hard in the opposite direction. I crashed hard into the pavement. My backpack flung over my shoulder, smashing the bottles within, leading to glass cutting through the thin fabric, and ultimately slicing my arms in a couple places. Inebriation symptom #1: instability. 

My primary concerns after the fall were to make sure my bike was alright — it was, and to see how many of my prized pilsners I had left — three. Not great, but I loved that bike so I was happy it was unmarked. I was bleeding rather profusely, but I didn’t feel it at all. I returned the pilsners to the ruined backpack, carried it in my hand for the rest of the bike, and left behind a pile of bloodied glass on the side of the road. Inebriation symptom #2: insensitivity. 

At home, I stowed my bike in the garage, typed in the door code and went upstairs to bed. I responsibly decided to brush my teeth before going to sleep, and it was a good thing I did; it took seeing my arms in the mirror to realize I was still bleeding and some droplets had fallen on the bathroom floor. I cleaned these up, dabbed at my wounds, and made sure to use a flashlight to check my path inside the house. All clean. No problem. Until morning, when I awoke to the paralyzing sound of my father calling my name. I hopped out of bed, and met him at the bottom of the stairs where he was simply pointing at the floor of the foyer, angry. There were a number of dried blood droplets on the carpet. He moved his finger up to the stairs I had just descended to reveal more of the same. I missed all of those the night before. Inebriation symptoms #3&4: anticoagulation and stupidity. Just walk home, folks.

You’re welcome,

B.F. Greeno, aka,
The Bleeding Boozer

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Benny Greeno

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