What the hell was I thinking?
This is a common thought that occurs to all those first year students moving into residence. Laying in bed on the night before, many other expletives also came to mind. The most common question we all asked was "what am I doing here?" Well there were tons of logical answers, but I'm not too sure we were really capable of logical thinking at that point.
I'm sure many common scenarios of increasing horror came to mind. "What if my roommate is crazy? Not like fun crazy, I'm talking Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde crazy. What if my roommate is ultra religious? What if he's a coke addict? And what about everyone else I'm living with? They could all be crazy, ridiculous, ultra-conservative, neo-liberal, religious nerds!"
By the time most of us finished hyperventilating we probably passed out into an uneasy sleep. The next day brought us to residence. Everyone was really helpful, (the chalk outlines were key!) and most of us were feeling really good about moving in, but still a little freaked out about the roommate issue. I grabbed my keys and went upstairs, and couldn't open the damn door, until a friendly looking fellow helped me by kicking it open. He informed me his name was Jeff (not his real name) and he's my roommate for the year. I looked him up and down, and he seemed okay, so I made the prerequisite nervous small talk. Where are you from? Why are you here, all that crap. He politely answered back, so finally I decide to pop the question.
"So Jeff... uh... do you drink?"
I've never seen a man's face light up so fast (okay, once when I was watching Baywatch), but still a look of pure joy rushed to his face.
"Do I ever!" he replied, and proceeded to break out a flask of Rye.
"Oh thank God," I declared. Conversation poured forward like a dam bursting. Seems we were both scared out of our pants that we were going to be hooked up with some whack job. Both of us hold affinity for similar types of music, but most importantly in creating a new friendship at a university--both of us like to drink.
Now far be it for me to condone mass amounts of drinking. Clearly, it has its downfalls as a legalized "drug" that causes untold amounts of damage to people annually. But one argument stands true: quite simply, there really is nothing like bonding between people you don't know by having a few.
Intoxication, inebriation; it brings out the essential self of a person. Everyone tries to put on a good first act when meeting people: "Oh hi, how are you? Yes, I'm interested in what you have to say, no I'm not intolerant, loud, or an idiot."
In truth we all are a little crazy, and flawed individuals. Yet the one thing I can't stand is unauthenticity. Not being genuine. If you can't be straight up about your crazy, wonderful, neurotic self, then I really don't want to spend three months trying to figure it out. That's why alcohol is important to the experience, because when you're drunk, you are more or less the person you really are. Sure, maybe a little louder, a little more touchy-feely, but essentially you are you. You can't remember to say all the right things after a couple pitchers at the Den. You say what you feel, you don't bullshit, and you have unguarded, unprotected, unpolitically correct fun.
Later at the residence pizza party, one girl nervously looked around while Jeff and I approached to have some pizza. The same nervous small talk continued, I looked at her and she was clearly uncomfortable. She looked around as if she was with the CIA and says softly "So uh... do you guys drink?" I smiled, looked around and realized going to U of C was the best idea I've ever had.