This sorry tale represents an early dating experience – and an early lesson. Neither the alcohol on the night nor the passage of time have done much to cloud my memory; thus my older, wiser self can only look back and cringe.
It was my first year at university – a time of new experiences heightened by living away from home for the first time, in the heaving metropolis that is London. I embraced freedom and (to a slightly lesser extent) study, I met a load of people in halls and I joined the kickboxing club: life was good.
The kickboxers were a social bunch, often choosing to wind down from bouts of sparring with a couple of rounds in the student union. One guy in particular caught my eye: tall, dark, smiley and handsome – and a darn good fighter to boot – he was difficult to miss. I can’t remember now how our flirting progressed, but it did, and one night we went on a date.
When I say ‘date’ I use the term loosely. Students don’t really ‘do’ dinner – or they didn’t at Goldsmiths in the era of Britpop – so we stuck to drinks. Watermelon Bacardi Breezers and vodka and Red Bull for me, hideously cheap at the union.
So far so good. Except, before I’d gone out I’d had a couple of drinks (well, a few) in one of my friend’s rooms in halls. The idea of this sociable getting-ready ritual is to help calm the nerves and cheapen the evening (by buying less drinks later). My tipple of choice? Vodka and cherryade. ‘Classy,’ you’re thinking, but hey, those were the days of MD 20/20 – the bar was set pretty low).
The evening seemed to be going swimmingly and when Mr Kickboxer suggested going back to his flat in (another) hall of residence of course I said yes. Unfortunately, by the time we got there it wasn’t the evening that was swimming, it was my head!
Mr Kickboxer lived in one of the brand new halls – nice in concept with some design faults that became all too obvious quite quickly. For example, while each bedroom in each flat had its own ‘private wet room’ (accessed from each locked bedroom) there was no communal toilet reachable from the living area… so when I realised I was going to be sick there was nowhere I could go to be tidy about it!
Before I got to the sink I vomited on the floor. And, thanks to the copious amounts of cherryade, it was bright red.
Luckily Mr Kickboxer was out of the room (replenishing the booze stash), so when he returned it seemed like a good idea to blame to blame one of his flatmates for the mess. I knew at least one of them was in, but I don’t think he was fooled. I beat a hasty retreat, leaving him muttering about how he was sure his flatmate hadn’t been out drinking red drinks all night…
The lessons of this story are so obvious they barely need stating. But, because we’re all young once, and because most of us have had too much to drink on at least one occasion, here goes:
- If you are meeting someone you like, you do not need Dutch courage in the form of ‘getting ready drinks’.
- It is advisable to eat something before you go – vital, in fact, if you think the date won’t involve food. A banana and/or a piece of toast are better than nothing.
- Try not to not drink to excess – this is harder said than done because it’s easy to get carried away when you’re out. But, contrary to how you feel at the time, it does not make you funny, charming or a better dancer. It just gives you a sore head –and ego – the next day.
Lastly, and most importantly, put some money aside to get home, however that may be.