Ah, the halcyon days of youth (or, dast I say it, the al-anon days of youth), the college days when first we legally entreated to sup at the cups, as it were. When the state-issued, firmly-established-as-an-adult ID first fell into our hands, no longer fettered with condition upon condition of youth, allowing us for the first time ever to establish our own condition of youth, which is to say, we got blotto often and indiscriminately. And legally, one can never forget legally.
For those of us who - either from fear of parental reprisal or a general deserted island drought of draught in one's sneakable or shopliftable arc of influence - deigned not to tipple as a teenager, the day we turned legal-for-drinking was a grand day. A grand weekend, even. A grand, lost weekend.
It's tempting to describe the experience as a matter of quantity over quality, but it was more than that. Sure, in our state-supported enthusiasm and vintner's virginity, we may not have been able to distinguish between V.S.O.P. and Everclear without the label looking us in the mush, it was still more than chugging cheerfully - it was about the occasion.
We planned parties for every conceivable case, observable or contrived. And we drank. We planned parties for groundhog's day, for conveniently numbered dates, for months-late housewarmings, and oh, we drank, drank, drank.
For instance, we - that being my roommate and I - held a party for Superman Day. June 19 (according to a 1976 comics-oriented calendar I'd owned since childhood, and which, besides sharing with us the exact date on which the city of Metropolis extended its thanks to its super-powered protector, also informed us of the exact date of the Joker's birthday and, saddest of saddest, the day Robin's parents were murdered, which was my birthday. I carried that terrible happenstance in my heart for a long time).
We went all out, hanging decorations and buying party favors. I made a cake in the shape of the legendary Fortress of Solitude, but misunderstanding the distinction between baking soda and baking powder, it ended up a density capable of deflecting bullets itself. So we ate the frosting. We arranged episodes of the classic George Reeves-headlined Adventures of Superman television program on the VCR, and mostly, we crafted a custom drink.
We called it the Kryptonite Kooler, and in our exuberance, we built a super-powered monster to rival any of the Man of Steel's rogues' gallery.
We were inexperienced in mixology, and played it by ear. To begin with, in a display of crass bolshevikism which my currently refined palate (and ruined liver) shudder to recall, we chose as the foundation of the drink the Safeway store-brand vodka. We decanted the tank-sized jugs into an enormous glass jar which I believe previously may've held the annual rainfail of Boston, MA. Very large, it was large.
To this we added green glow-sticks. Toxicity uncatalogued, it still was not the most poisonous of the ingredients. No, that honor falls to the mint extract. I added it, a drop at a time, tasting with a spoon as I went. One drop, no change in flavor, two drops, no change in flavor, three drops, good christ, am I getting drunk on this or what, four drops, OH THERE IT IS! Mint, like a Stalinist purge of overwhelming flavor, like four fat, belligerent bouncers sitting on you until the cops arrive, it was pretty goddamn awful.
The Kryptonite Kooler was mixed specifically for a drinking game. I wrote tropes and conceits of the Adventures of Superman television program on index cards, then handed them out randomly to guests. Drinkers had to drink when their card came into play. Mine was "When Jimmy Olsen says 'golly.'" I felt fear, knowing how often the televised twerp uttered that particular, pale-bodied profanity.
Other cards are faint in my memory. My roommate pulled something like "Clark touches his glasses," or something suitably fatal like that. Others drew seemingly equally ominous alternatives. Our friend Jon Swan, he picked luckily, I remember. He chose a rarity, which surfaced once or rarely twice in an episode: "Someone calls Perry White 'Chief'"
I loaded a deceptively ominous episode - "The Monkey Mystery" - into the VCR, and we watched.
Jimmy spoke: "Gosh, Mister Kent!" "Gee Whiz, Mister Kent!" "Christ Wept, Mister Kent!" Nary a golly. I began to resent my sobriety.
Clark Kent also refrained from touching often his spectacles, once only to transform into his costumed alter-ego. Josh, my roommate, drank almost angrily. He may have muttered "About time."
But Jon Swann, poor Jon Swann. None of us expected that this, of all episodes, would be one where salutations to Perry White would be in abundance. "Right away Chief, by the way Chief, say Chief, Chief, can you hear me Chief, is the Chief there? Chief? Chief, there you are!"
"I can't do any more!" he yelled suddenly, lifting his linebacker frame hurriedly but heavily from the couch, "It's like drinking toothpaste."
We learn lessons from insults like that. Jon Swann learned, as a for instance, not to imbibe of apocalyptically mint-flavored concoctions, lest one die. All six-feet and four inches of him learned while this arched over our toilet, barking out the names of Avengers. Waaaaaaaaaaasp. Huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuulk. Haaawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwk-eye.
I learned to leave the mixology to more practiced hands and more powerful intellects. Clearly, it was a dangerous ground I trod in those days of allowance and exuberance, and I tread blindly, heavily, and carrying others on my back. The rest of my fortunes were spent conservatively, on screwdrivers, or training myself to drink my vodka straight, so that suffering was direct and immediate, and hesitated not for the Adventures of Superman to catch up to it.
The events continued to be scheduled, the imibing done with great enthusiasm as always, but I decided to veer not towards custom concoctions of any sort, fearing the holy heck I'd visited on one poor head could be repeated a thousand times over in someone's overcrowded studio apartment, the vomit flowing over the second-story railing like magically parting waterfalls in fantasy films.
Oh, but I did often mix Peach flavored Boone's Farm with Smirnoff. I called it a "Peach Politburo." No one has yet died, but the looks on their faces when I describe it may be considered death masks in some primitive cultures.