"Did you see?" he asked. He was talking about the Princeton Review's list of the top party schools. Ohio came in first.
He was so proud.
A lot of Bobcat alumni have all, in one way or another, said the same thing to me over the last couple of days. Of course the university is all upset about this. But Athens, you see, is in the middle of Ohio's Appalachian foothills. There are college kids there. It's a public university. The closest "big" city is, ahem, Parkersburg, West Virginia. They should have seen this coming.
So, rather than try to come up with some well thought-out monologue, I will now relate as many alcohol-related college stories as I can remember from my freshman year:
- Our all-male freshman dorm won an award for the highest GPA among all-male freshman dorms. We took the title with a staggering 2.1. As a reward, two fellas who lived a few doors down from me in Ryors Hall were invited to the university president's house for a banquet. They stole two glasses from his home and drank beer out of them for the rest of the year.
- I was interviewed on Halloween night by my friend Mike, who worked for a TV station in West Virginia where I ended up working a few years later. I don't know how much I'd had to drink, but the sideburns implied some sort of cloudy judgment. (FULL DISCLOSURE: This may have happened during my sophomore year)
- A guy on my floor figured out he could get the most drunk for the least amount of money by stocking up on 12-packs of 40 oz. bottles of King Cobra. It's malt liquor, in case you didn't know. It is terrible. After finishing each bottle, the guy would rip the label off and stick it to the wall. After one quarter, he had a fourth of his room wallpapered in Cobra labels, ceiling to floor. His dad came to visit. His first words upon seeing the wall: "I am so disappointed in you."
- Same guy had too many Cobras one night and decided not to walk down the hall to the bathroom, and instead pulled down his pants and dropped anchor, right there in the middle of his white rug (stained yellow by repeated Cobra spills). He woke up the next morning, convinced that someone had broken into his room overnight and pooped in it.
- A guy on my floor was drunk and angry. We tried to calm him down by taking him out for Goodfella's pizza. When we turned around, he was gone. Turns out he had walked back to the dorm, heard footsteps behind him, figured it was us, and punched out a window pane. It wasn't us. It was an Ohio University police officer. We had to bail him out of jail.
- I once thought I could keep an inebriated 250-pound redshirt offensive lineman upright enough to get home from a party without falling on top of me on the steepest part of High Street, thereby earning his respect and not ripping a hole in my new pants. I was wrong.
- A bunch of us ended up at a keg party at some guy's house. Most Athens keg parties featured Milwaukee's Best or Natural Light. This guy had Guinness. We didn't really know him. He was sort of funny looking. He was surrounded by good-looking women. I later found out he was arrested for dealing drugs.
What do these stories mean? I don't know. They're a testament to several things: Bad judgement. The idolization of Animal House. The allure of something forbidden to 19-year-olds. The self-destructive influence of new-found independence.
Ohio University is a fine institution. I mean that. I was never arrested. I went to class. I graduated. I grew up. I drank less. I learned more. The best I can do now? Crack a beer, think back to the days when we were invincible, and be thankful I no longer live with people who poop on the floor.