Quick & Crazy Straws

It’s hard to say at what age I started drinking. Ten or eleven seems right. I could take full responsibility. After all, it was me that choose drinking. But I also blame Mark. Well, Mark’s parents really. See, Mark’s parents went out every weekend. All summer long. And all summer long my brother and I spent weekend’s at Mark’s.

His parents had a pretty well stocked cupboard. More whisky and bourbon and wine than any tween should have access to.

Being just ten or eleven, the three of us were both smart and stupid. We were smart enough not to take and drink from just one bottle. Even a blind man would notice two-thirds of a bottle missing. Instead, we used a Quick glass. Actually, it was plastic. Like a fountain drink cup. “V” shaped. Had the chocolate bunny from the commercials on it. His body bounding over the word Quick, and through the giant “Q”, ears askew as if his leap over and through were captured by an action snapshot.

We’d pour in some vodka, Southern Comfort, red wine, a can of beer, and mix the concoction with a spoon.

The concoction is where we could be placed in line under the Stupid category.

We sat at the kitchen table. The Quick glass (plastic), filled to the rim, between us.

Also under stupid was the escaped thought that one of us could simply have had a few glasses of wine. The other some hefty shots of vodka and the third a beer with Southern Comfort chasers. That would have been a damned good idea. And I am slightly embarrassed to admit I only just now thought of this. But see, that’s the thing. The idea of pouring all of this into one twenty ounce plastic cup was what I’d done, so it always seemed like the only way to drink it, at that time.

We didn’t even know enough to mix it up, doll it out, and chill. Put on TV and watch a ballgame, or cartoons. Nope.

Playing cards was an interest we shared. Aside from Old Maid and Go Fish (which when I was younger I used to call Gold Fish, but that has absolutely nothing to do with this story) we had recently learned a new game. Bloody Knuckles.

The rules of Blood Knuckles escape me right now. Maybe it had something to do with getting the lowest scoring hand? I’m not sure. It really doesn’t matter. There was this guy I worked with. He was the worst at telling stories. He would say something like, “I was taking pictures the other day. I had two-hundred speed film in my camera. No, no, wait–it might have been four-hundred speed. Because I know it wasn’t a full roll of film. I had put four-hundred in the camera about a week before. And I think the four-hundred was still in there. Unless I finished the roll of four-hundred, and put in that roll of two-hundred. I got the roll of two-hundred free at the store about a month ago. The pharmacy’s photomat fucked up a roll, and to make it up to me gave me a couple rolls of two-hundred. It didn’t make up for losing the pictures. But, you know, free is free…”

And then you say, “Ron! Ron! What the fuck are you talking about?”

And he would shake his head. “Aren’t you listening, Chase? I was taking pictures at the Bill’s preseason game the other day and got some great shots of them warming up.”

“No, Ron. That’s not what you said. You just went on talking about absolutely nothing for like ten years!” That’s what I always wanted to say. He was like my boss. So I never said that. I just nodded. And waited. Eventually he got around to the point. And I didn’t give two shits either way. If he was jawing away, we weren’t working. Getting paid by the hour, the less I did in eight hours, the better.

…So we played Bloody Knuckles. At the time, we knew the rules. So for all’s sake, the game was played. Rules followed. Then who ever lost–the others would fan out the cards, face down on the table. The loser picked a card. If it was a black–seven, say. The loser would have to drink while the other slowly counted to seven. If it was red, the others counted fast.

The loser had to drink the concoction while the others counted.

But we didn’t want to be slamming the drink all at once. So we looked for a straw. Only straw we had–Mark had–was a Crazy Straw. You know what a crazy straw is? It’s one of those hard plastic straws that are washable. When used, they tease a thirsty person. While a regular straw goes from Drink to Mouth. Point A to Point B. A Crazy Straw insists on whipping around and in and out of loops like a liquid roller coaster before ever passing through now dry, cracked lips.

Imagine drinking a cold (plastic) Quick glass filled with–not mixed drinks, mixed like someone might order at a bar, and pay money for–an ulcer-possible, vomiting-certain … well, concoction? I still can just stare an empty stare and drool from thinking about it, from remembering the smell. And I drooled. After every crazy draw on that wild and crazy straw, I drooled.

It was dentist office–Novocaine drooling at its best.

We did this at least every Friday night. Sometimes Saturday, too.

By the time a full glass was gone (and sometimes a second filled and downed), we were pretty ripped. If between the three of us we weighed more than one-fifty, I’d be shocked.

At ten or eleven drinking is no different than if you are twenty-one, or forty. Bed spins, running to the bathroom to blow chunks, crawling up the stairs to get to bed, butt sliding back down to keep from toppling over and tumbling twelve steps. Slurred words, prank phone calls, and fighting. It was all in there. Along with promises we’d never do it again. And we promised that. A lot. And then by Tuesday, we counted the days, the hours, until Friday night.

Yep. Quick and Crazy Straws. Good times. Good. Times.

–Phillip Tomasso

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