To get trashed or not to get trashed? That is the question. Our intern Aditi shares her personal experiences about the good and the bad involving drinking in college.
After a year of college in outlandish and standoff-ish Ithaca, one encounters the multifarious faces of alcohol and the variegated shades of behavior it produces in people. When one does a free association test with the words “alcohol” and “Cornell,” a deluge of terms flood into the mind map. If I were to list some of them, they would be frat basements; washing away bombed prelims and harrowing college romances; hazing; getting penalized by the judicial administrator; BASICS (for many); binge eating; sake bombing; beer pong and a horde of other things. But this is just the first layer of innocuous thoughts that come to us. If we go a level deeper, the banal, uglier and darker side of drinking emerges.
Picture this, lady Cornellians: You wake up on a resplendent Sunday morning and all of Cornell is bathed in spring but there is a cloud of darkness over you because you happen to be in a strange bed with an absolute stranger who looks nothing like you thought he did the night before. The deviation becomes even more apparent as the harsh light streams in and your inebriation wears off. I just described a “casual hookup” as articulately as I can. Though the infamous “walk of shame” is on the list of 161 Things to Do at Cornell, it never leaves us feeling good — it leaves us with a flood of memories which we try to push to the darkest corner of our mental chambers. This is not a moral tirade but I am just pointing out that irrespective of how spectacular your tolerance is, you never quite realize when you are slipping from your “happy buzz” to the point when you are vulnerable enough to end up in the most compromising situation.
Moreover, it is a grey area — it is not exactly an instance in which either person is a sexual perpetrator. In all likelihood both of you were partially or entirely drunk. These instances are scarring, but again, as Bernard Shaw said: What is life but a series of inspired follies? A word of caution nevertheless, ladies and gentlemen, know that alcohol can transform your life in seconds leaving you with a sinking feeling and a terrible hangover.
Last Friday, I happened to take one of the “drunk buses” from Collegetown to North Campus. It would be a lie to say I am an archangel who has never been one of the inebriated on those buses but on that particular night, I happened to be very sober. I was with a few friends of mine and in the crowd were the regulars — drop dead gorgeous heels, sore feet, washed-off makeup and of course, a bunch of blustering drunk boys. At one particular stop, a few Indian girls got off together, evidently heading for a Friday night out. Then the obnoxious act was played out. One of those rambunctiously drunk men bawled out “Get off right now, this bus is meant only for whites!” . . . I have censored the profanity, of course. Everyone on the bus was shell-shocked for several moments after. The drunk devil in my story must have felt the twenty odd, piercing glares because a few minutes after the girls had left, he shouted out in an even more obnoxious tone: “ I’m sorry guys, everyone can sit on this bus.” If only I were a little less exhausted at that point of time, I would have given them a piece of my mind then and there instead of ranting in my column a week later. I regret letting that moment pass by.
At first, I was inflamed and the first word that blared in my brain was: Racism. However, after the fury passed, I realized this was yet another example of how alcohol can transform you into exactly the kind of person you would never believe you could be otherwise. This tells us something about the kinds of lives we lead at Cornell. Why must we need jaeger bombs and sake bombs to discover our suppressed souls and then be unnerved by what we discover? Why must we feel the need to lose ourselves in a drunk crowd of people? I am not asking anyone to enclose your college life in one neverending dry period.
In response to the question I posed at the beginning of my column, I would say: Do get trashed, do destroy your liver while you can and make the most bizarre memories with your best friends. But, if it is an escape for you, a source of solace, a way to find love, life and yourself — stop getting trashed until you fix yourself. Always be prepared to face the fact that you can become a phantasm when you’re drunk and will be left wondering whether that was you or simply your alcohol. Drink safe and be responsible.