As I age, it becomes more terrifying every year to look back at parties and wedding receptions, where I have indulged too freely in partaking of “spirits” at those events, and having let go of any real sense of decorum that otherwise tempers my behavior.
The worst experience of which, to my knowledge, there is no photograph or film footage (I hope), involved a few friends from our college dorm and me attending an off-campus party, where alcoholic beverages were being served in abundance. It was 1965, when I was nineteen, so I can at least claim some degree of innocence in my blundering behavior that night in imbibing too much. Cocktails that evening flowed like tsunamis, but I had heard many times, even from my father, that “Never mix; never worry” was good advice, so that evening I stuck to what had rather a lethal sounding name but what tasted innocent enough for Mr. Rogers to serve in his neighborhood: Harvey Wallbangers.
The upshot of this incident is that I woke up the next morning wearing my pajamas, slippers, and Stewart plaid bathrobe. I was reclined on the wooden porch swing of a house I didn’t recognize, an elderly man with his wife, holding the folded Sunday newspaper and tapping their feet as they scowled down at me in the morning light.
“Young man, what are you doing on our porch?” It seemed a perfectly valid question under the circumstances. I groped for an answer, my head splitting with pain. The only response that came to me in that moment was something like, “I think I may have a brain tumor,” followed by, “Where am I?” The couple looked at one another, half-smiling, knowing the story without my having to say anything further. At any rate, they let me use their phone to call my roommate, Denny, at our dorm, who picked me up after I had been given two cups of black coffee by the stunned couple. Their house turned out to be on the other side of town from the campus, and I had no plausible explanation for Denny, who hadn’t been at the dorm when the other guys took me there the night before to get my nightclothes in order to complete the caper they had designed to embarrass the wits out of me. The whole thing provided a lesson I never forgot.
Subsequent such events over the years pale by comparison but usually involved wedding receptions, where after a couple of martinis, Old Fashions, or gin and tonics, I would end up in a group doing the Chicken Dance, the Hokey Pokey, Macarena, or the Hora, minus my necktie and jacket, my sleeves rolled up. It haunts me even now that across the nation there is plenty of home movie footage, along with plenty of photographs of me doing unintentional impersonations of Crazy Guggenheim at those receptions, putting my school teacher image in possible and irrevocable peril. Please insert smile face here. JB