# # Peer Pressure

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

Peer Pressure

So I’m in San Francisco last weekend with a buncha danged professionals and I’m feeling the odd man out. (I mean I felt strange in their company. Get your mind out of the gutter)

Anyway, they’ve all got nice cars, successful careers, wallets full of cash, and really great clothes. Especially the shoes. Every one of these bastards has what appears to be a brand new pair of shoes on their feet – sneakers or leathers – that probably cost more than my diet since September, and there I was in my four year old, beat to shit, steel-toed, brown hiking boots with obvious, whisker-like black laces. The original, brown ones were worn out and all I had were these stiff black things that I stupidly decided to replace the others with just before the trip.

Of course, no one said anything about my dress but I was self conscious, standing there in my shorts and beater boots, like someone’s house man just in from the garden to ask if I can use the turlet or take a break, boss.

Now these are some really nice guys – toy geeks, to be specific, Japanese toy geeks, of which I number myself – and nobody said anything to me like: “So, you’re either poor or a fashion retard, eh?” (which is good because I’d have to admit to both) but, as I said, I was feeling self-conscious about it and wanted to be, you know, just another one of the guys.

This was actually pretty easy to do because very few of us had ever met face to face before. We’ve been nattering on like a buncha hens via the internet for years but, as we’re spread all across the country, the world even, a meeting of this sort is a rare thing.

Things were going well but you know men – there’s a need to, you know, be the man. One fellow in particular, a big hearted guy who I tend to think of as a bull in a china shop (only he’s also the proprietor of the shop – and some of the china), decided we needed to get some beer in us, pronto. This is around 10am, mind you.

Of course we all hooted our noisome consent to this wonderful idea.

Before I go any further I would like to point out two facts. The first is that I absolutely adore alcohol and the attendant condition up to but not including vomiting all over your date or messily clutching your best friend and telling him just how much you love him.

The second is that my body hates alcohol.

Oh, it soaks it up readily enough but, if I’m not careful, the next day is harrowing. Anything over three beers in quick succession before bed and I’m practically guaranteed a twelve to sixteen hour stretch of severe regret: the weak-sweaties, a pounding headache, and let’s not forget the puking every half-hour like clockwork. The sad thing is that I know the routine well because I experienced it over and over before I finally became smart enough to curtail said behavior.

Yes, I am a genius.

So now, our first stop was a lovely little restaurant in Japan town, Mifune Don, where, among other things, we all had big bottles of … Asahi? Odd, I don’t remember if that was the beer or not but it suited my meal of tempura, maki rolls, and an extremely tasty okonomiyaki.

I typically don’t enjoy Japanese beer (or Chinese, for that matter). Somehow they seem to have gotten sucked into the whole Coors Light trip and all their beers taste like that or worse. Me? I like a beer that is strong enough to defend itself in a fight, not one that looks like it just finished running down your leg. And I demand taste from my beer. All of the Japanese beers I’ve ever had have managed to taste like the sanitizers used to clean the tanks they were brewed in – oh, yum! – but I do have to admit that there are times when a wimpy beer, one designed to deliver a little alcohol and not much else, can come in handy and, in the instance of this meal, said beer did not accentuate but neither did it offend.

The rest of the afternoon and early evening was spent at one of the fellow’s homes and, of course, there was beer: more yellow stuff but, hey, I’m a guest. I was also introduced to Sochu, a kind of Japanese gin, I suppose, or vodka, that tasted as if it might be composed of one part melon water to two parts window cleaner; tres chic.

Later that evening, after everyone arrived, I was feeling kinda goofy but okay, not so self-conscious as before, the alcohol having begun to work its magic. I remember having a little talk with myself about not going overboard, however. Many of the other fellows had already slipped the bonds of this earth and were sloshing around the house with abandon, so it was decided that our best bet would be to go across the street to the Mexican restaurant and get some dinner.

Dinner at a Mexican restaurant for me always means a Negro Modelo, a reasonably tasty amber beer from the land of beer so notoriously bad that they’ve managed to get everyone to think that you are styling when you put lime in it. No, people, the reason you put lime in your Corona is because it is so horribly skunky that you need the lime to make it palatable. Truth! (ironically, the same brewery that makes Corona also makes Negro Modelo)

On this night, however, I was talked into ordering a margarita. A double margarita.

Now, I used to love tequila. Didn’t need no lime, didn’t need no stinking salt – just gimmie a shot glass and a bottle and awaaaaaay we go. The only problem was that, on tequila, I would get a little crazy. Not mean or anything, just spectacularly stupid and energetic, like the time I threw my half-empty glass across the room to smash against the wall because – get this – it sounded fun at the time. Then there was the time I took it into my head to stage dive at a Jane’s Addiction concert. Looking on, my friends told me I looked like a drowned bat every time I threw myself off the stage, my black trenchcoat trailing behind.

So I stopped consuming tequila in any form a long time ago and had never been a big fan of margaritas in the first place but everyone at this party was on about how special Patron tequila was so, I mean, hey: I had one with my meal.

I still don’t get the appeal of the salt. I know it is there to help “balance” the sour of the drink but, dammit, then why just not add the sour in the first place?

It was very annoying: every time I took a sip of this ridiculously top-heavy drink I was fighting gritty, biting grains of salt and little, slippery ice-chips. I hate ice in a drink unless I have a straw or the drink is one you don’t feel compelled to gulp, which, while eating, I tend to do. But I finished it, finding the last dregs to be disgustingly salty.

By now, our host, who also had a couple of margaritas, was really zipping along and, after delegating the remainder of the bill to another hapless individual with a wave of his hand and a hundred dollar bill, he leads I and a couple of other people over to the bar and insists that we have shots of Patron.

I really didn’t want the drink, fearing my state come the morn but, upon seeing the drinks ordered and handed out, what could I do but knuckle under. I mean, hey, I had some ugly shoes on – and what about those legs?

The “shots” were actually doubles and, while I found the Patron to be especially smooth, 80 proof is 80 proof: the last thing I needed was two more drinks.

Down the hatch.

Now back across the street for more talk … and beer. I barely finish my beer (what the hell was I thinking, drinking another beer?) when it’s time to go to my hotel room. I and a few others are in the same hotel so we share a taxi.

Riding the elevator up to our rooms, one of the fellows complains about the alcohol situation, mentioning the shots of Patron, specifically.
“That was so uncool,” he says. “The last thing I wanted was to drink a lot tonight.”
“So why did you take the drink?” I ask.
“You know,” he replies, shaking his head, “peer pressure. I couldn’t say no.”
I know what he means – especially when he then makes the universal sign for “wanna smoke up?”

I haven’t smoked pot in years, my thinking being that, if I ever wanted to get anywhere other than my apartment and the inside of my own head, getting away from pot was my first, best choice.

But here I am, nodding in agreement, and off we go to do just that.

The buzz is immediate and, before the joint has hit my lips three times, I’m feeling that old, familiar warmth of comfortable stupidity crawling up my face. Yeah, alright. When we’re done I light up one of my foul, silly, little, hand-rolled cigarettes and start pulling away on that, too.

Before I know it, I can feel my knees beginning to go and my vision starts teetering towards the break-up. Yes, indeed: we have found our limit and it’s back apiece.

Begging my companion’s collective pardon, I stumble out of the room to my own where, once the door is closed, I drop to the floor and literally begin to crawl towards the bed, scared to death that I am going to lose consciousness. The last thing I want to do is fall and hurt myself or, worse, pass out in this condition and spend the next day – the big day – puking my guts out.

Instead of getting in the bed, I activate my laptop in the hopes that I can distract myself with it but my eyes have gone chameleon, wandering independent of each other like two idiot goldfish in separate bowls. The glowing screen is impossible, vicious.

I struggle desperately to remain conscious and catch myself hyperventilating with huge, gawping breaths as I flop first this way, then that. Suddenly my intestines begin to caterwaul and I am forced to make my way to the toilet on hands and knees, a tedious affair as the bathroom door interferes with the internal door to the stool itself unless the first is closed, which I can’t do because I’m prone on the cool tiles of the floor, practically slithering in.

Climbing the stool is another fool’s game and I see the maid finding my body cold the next morning, my head split open from a fall off the toilet and my naked butt sticking up into the air like some perverse flag of surrender.

I sit hunched as my bowels voice their complaint. Finished, I peel the manacles of my drawers from my ankles and drag myself half naked from the bathroom, the world cavorting and shuddering before my eyes.

Convinced of the morrow’s impending illness and sick enough at the moment, I toy with the idea of simply opening the door to my balcony and throwing myself over the railing to the parking lot five stories below but know I’m too damned weak. I’d only make a hash of it, likely crashing halfway through the shoji doors to dangle entangled.

Instead I crawl back to the bathroom, poke a couple of ibuprofen down my gullet with a tumbler of water, and finally, crawling onto my bed, succumb to the black waves, depantsed.

Every few hours the headache wakes me, so I assault it with water and ibuprofen. By the time 9:30am rolls around I can only feel a slight headache, so I get up and begin my day with a Japanese shower that is confounding enough to be a story all its own.

Dressed, I can feel my hunger down to my toes so I make my way outside and attempt to walk off the remainder of my headache on a trek for coffee and a bagel. By the time I have eaten and made it back to the hotel I am refreshed and, amazingly, ready to go.

So, of course, there was a repeat performance that very evening …

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6 Responses to “Peer Pressure”

  1. bacon ace says:

    You see, I didn’t even notice the shoes because I was more dumbfounded by the fact that you were wearing ahorts in that weather.

  2. cae says:

    Dude, it was WARM there, compared to here. I was very comfortable. Really. (besides, I wear shorts here all the time, too)

  3. Erik Sjoen says:

    Olive juice.

    Fucking pot smoking hippies…

  4. Kris Petersen says:

    If you have Whole Foods somewhere around you, they carry a brand of beer called “Hitachino” (at least, they do around here – but I think you might have better luck finding it in a liquor store with a decent beer selection, considering you’re on the west coast…) – it has an adorable owl on the bottle – and it’s a great Japanese beer. Their White Ale, Espresso Stout, and Ginger Ale are absolutely delicious and place among my favorite beers. Expensive, though. The latter goes especially good with Sushi or anything else that typically has a lot of ginger in it.

    (Sorry, Beer Fanatic over here.)

  5. cae says:

    > Hitachino

    I’ll definitely keep my eye out for this – THANKS!

  6. redwithenvy says:

    i’m relieved to know that i am not the only one that has experienced this. down to the icecubes thought.

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