I am 22. I am on a resort in the Dominican Republic, the first week of a summer long vacation that also includes Toronto and much of Western Europe, a trip booked by my friend Bosh for the two of us after what he considers a a series of serious conversations and what I don’t remember because it took place over several days of heavy drinking where the primary focus was on beating him in ping-pong.
We arrive at the resort a day earlier than the rest of our friends, and we meet a few girls from home there and hang out with them all day. It’s nighttime, and there is a Michael Jackson dance contest on the stage near where we’re sitting, and one of the girls tells Bosh to go up. “I won’t, but he will,” he says, pointing at me. He’s right. I volunteer myself for the contest and, along with four other guys, climb the stairs onto the stage.
We are each given a hat and a chair as we wait for our turn. When “Billie Jean” comes on, the emcee points at me and I rise with an ideal level of inebriation to support a glow of confidence while still maintaining the structural integrity necessary to move my body productively. Not actually having any dance skills is fortunately not as relevant as it perhaps should have been, and, relying heavily on my hat for my sweet moves, I end up winning the contest.
I am handed my prize of a flask of local rum. Riding the high of victory, I take a swig. As the bottle hits my mouth, I decide I can take the night up a notch for everyone present by finishing the entire thing on stage. I get halfway through and realize what a mistake I’ve made, leading me to wisely give up on my initial intention. The emcee looks at me incredulously. “Are you okay?” I nod yes, stumble off the stage, and vomit in the bushes. I return to my table, hoping to hide my stupidity among my friends. I do not remember if it worked.
The travels continue in the Irish town of Portmarnock, where Bosh’s uncle parks far enough away from the pub so as not to arouse suspicion when he drives home after several pints. At some point we end up in Rome, on a pub crawl that begins at the Colosseum. I am chased away from a building on which I’m urinating by a group of nuns claiming it’s a convent. While visiting Nick in Switzerland, there is light to moderate vandalism, fondue and sipping o’ dat with a future Mallard Cottage owner.
The next month, I’m on the Greek island of Ios, living in a sweaty 7€ doghouse sustaining myself on 1€ beers and 2€ gyros. After a week of this lifestyle, surrounded by like minds, Bosh reminds us that we have to head back to Ireland for the Oxegen music festival. I tell him I “can’t go there, or anywhere else, because I will live here now, forever.” I mean it. His persuasive techniques mean nothing.
However, I do attend the festival, and I don’t live in Ios, so I must have listened to him.