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[Note: This is a novel being presented in installments, one chapter per week, every Friday, from May 4 to August 24, 2012. The full novel will be published in its entirety in September 2012.]

Meeting with Eliza always gave Jonathan a foul mood afterwards. Sure enough, she had talked about her current and future plans with her boyfriend. It was not really the kind of uplifting talk that he wanted to hear. Nothing makes a miserable person more miserable than hearing about the good fortunes of others. This time it was about their romantic vacation in the New Year to some Caribbean resort. Perfect, Jonathan thought, just another online photo album to lust angrily over.

He did appreciate Eliza’s kind words about his writing, but it was always hard with friends to gauge how honest they were being. What friend would stop another from pursuing their dream, no matter how ridiculous it’s? Delusion is not built on lies, but untold truths.

Jonathan felt miserable. At the bottom of his fridge were twelve beers. He took out one and flopped himself on his couch. Flicking on the television he sat bored and depressed. Seeing how beautiful Eliza was in person was painful. Every single time it reopened scabs that Jonathan had thought healed a half decade ago. He wanted his mind to wander anywhere else.

-This fucking sucks.

He scanned the listings on the screen for any and all distractions he could find. Television was a vast wasteland of nothingness and Jonathan wanted to enter it as deep as his mind would allow. There was no shortage of options, each as repulsive as the next. He clicked on to one of the sports channels, to watch the evening’s highlights. They were showing clips about American football and Jonathan’s disinterest in the sport wouldn’t let him get sucked in. Foiled, he thought. He began to press the channel up button in the hopes that he would just stumble across anything that might pique his interest and distract him. There were makeover programs for frumpy office workers and documentaries about Iraq, cartoon episodes he had seen a thousand times and talk shows he never wanted to watch, in the end Jonathan came across the worst possible thing to watch. In front of him was a vapid group of twenty somethings on a reality show, treating each other like shit. They cussed at each other. They drank too much. They were the absolute bottom rung of society’s evolutionary progress. They were Neanderthals with spray tans. But Jonathan couldn’t look away. He was drawn in to how stupid and petty they were. How unambitious their dreams were. The only thing any of them wanted to do was party and have a good time. Jonathan was not having a good time. He was alone on his couch and already his first beer was empty. He grabbed another and continued to watch these despicable beasts fight and fuck. The beers continued to disappear and the episodes kept coming. Jonathan had stumbled across a marathon of vacuity. He let his mind get sucked in.

 

 

The Contest

Jonathan wanted to scream out “don’t do it!” at the graduating students as they crossed the stage, as if they were about to jump off a building. He was afraid that none of them knew what they were doing. They were signing on to the rest of their lives. It was not going to be filled with bikinis and shots at the beach. It was going to be filled with an endless march of paperwork and bullshit. He wanted them to know what they would be missing. He wanted to remind them that before their end, there were so many stories. He wanted to remind them of the time that Gio walked across the top of the bridge’s arches and nearly fell (“It was crazy!”). Or when Gio saw the passing train and jumped and held on to the ladder hanging from the side, his legs dangerously dangling below (“Do you remember?”). Jonathan wanted to scream at the top of his lungs that this was the end of mindless shenanigans. He looked around and knew several of these suited corpses were already working for banks and non-profits. He saw some of his classmates who he knew were destined for graduate school. That wouldn’t stop this death, he wanted to warn them, it’s just a slower way to go. He wanted to remind them all that there were beginnings to this, there was a time when they were not even fully who they are now. Jonathan, sitting in silent frustration, began to remind himself.

‘“A group of us on the floor, Nick, Gio, Midge, Whatsherface, and myself clicked early and formed a core. While we all had disparate backgrounds there was one common bond that brought us together. In a familiar refrain from just about every university retrospective, that bond was drinking. Alcohol found itself at the centre of just about any gathering of the five of us. Whether we were in Midge’s room, laughing hysterically at the mislabeled songs on her computer (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is not performed by Bob Marley), or having Nick introduce us to the works of Raoul Duke in film, alcohol was omnipresent. It became pretty clear that within the five of us there were varying degrees of skill and tolerance with the liquid devil. Midge was a lightweight, not helped at all by her preference for light domestic beers. On the other end of the spectrum was Whatsherface, who could consume an ungodly amount of rum and hold her own with the boys well in to the night, at which point she would finally collapse. I was never a heavyweight, and I always foolishly tried to punch above my weight in those early days. It would begin with a decision to match Gio and Nick and it would end with a toilet bowl. No, there was no question that Gio and Nick were supremely gifted in the art, craft, skill, trade, and game of drinking. You name it; they could do it. If it was a punishing round of cards, randomly flipped over with various disciplinary actions, those two would down their poison without hesitation. They would be playing flip cup and they’d not chug a beer but gulp in one fell swallow. Of course, their flipping only matched their drinking. At the pub one night, Nick decided to order a pitcher of beer – for himself. Gio matched him. While us remaining mugs filled pint glasses from a common pitcher, Gio and Nick drank straight from their own jugs. By the end of the night each had drank four or five jugs, depending on who was counting.  And that was the problem between the two; there was never an agreement about who was best. So, to solve this, and I cannot be entirely certain as to the exact origin, but I suspect that alcohol was at play, Gio and Nick agreed to a duel. It sounded old timey and quaint and was exactly the sort of thing young gentlemen ought to do when honour is on the line.

The terms to the duel were agreed on a Friday morning in the residence food hall over breakfast. Nick was devouring a mountain of eggs and bacon, while Gio sipped coffee and stared at a platter of pancakes.

“A drink-a-thon.”

Nick’s face lit up at the idea of testing his booze endurance. Gio sipped his coffee nonplussed. I continued to explain the terms of the challenge.

“Starting tomorrow morning at nine you will both begin to drink, keeping tally of how many you consume. Whoever drinks the most by midnight will win. If for whatever reason you cannot complete the drink a thon, for whatever reason, the other person will win. Are these terms clear?”

I reveled in the possibility of being the referee, for it meant that for once I was not expected to keep up in the drinking. It was incumbent upon the drink a thon commissioner to keep a level head on the proceedings.

“Aww, man, this is gonna hurt.”

“Haha, Gio, you are gonna collapse!”

Nick began to feel more confident as he surveyed the mindboggling frame of his opponent. Gio was a tall, skinny fellow of questionable origins. He smoked a pack of cigarettes per day and was not known to participate in any form of exercise. Still, when being generous you would describe his body as being that of a runner, and runners ran marathons.

That day, as I attended classes, all I could think about was the challenge. I honestly wanted to know who could consume more alcohol in a horrible fifteen-hour session. I suppose there is a masochist in each of us. When I returned to the residence for the evening Nick was at my door.

“Hey, Jon, you wanna have a drink?”

“Yeah, I could, what about tomorrow?”

“I’m training.”

There was always a way to find yourself agreeing with Nick. This was training. Runners don’t just walk up to a marathon and then out of nowhere run the distance. They prepare themselves for weeks or months on end. They learn to pace themselves. They can tell you within a few minutes how long a forty-kilometre run is going to take them. The remarkable accuracy came from finely tuning their bodies so that they were as reliable and predictable as an automobile. Nick was a truck. He powered through drink like large imposing figures ought to. Thinking of automobiles, I couldn’t quite place Gio. Was he an economy class Hyundai Accent? Or some obscure European vehicle? He was a stretch limousine with a VW Beetle face, leather seats, zebra print interior and Motley Crue blasting through the speakers. 

I couldn’t believe we were training that night. Nick insisted I keep up with him, so one drink became twelve and we were still at the residence. I had rarely drank so much in a pre drinking session and was already feeling a horrible buzz. Gio was nowhere to be found that night. I don’t know if he hibernated in preparation for the challenge but he was not joining Nick and I that night.

I looked at my watch; it was only eight. Somehow we had managed to consume twelve beers each in the span of two and a half hours. This is the time when someone’s heart ought to explode. Nick just motoring along without any hesitation. It really was training for him. I had made the mistake of jogging next to a marathoner. For me this was a hobby, for Nick it was a lifestyle. If he had the ambition to be a rock star I’m fairly certain all the other members of the band would hold an intervention about his alcohol use. Instead of warning him about the inevitable harm he was doing, I think his band would tell him to tone it down a bit because he was making the rest of them look bad. That’s the thing with rock bands; everyone in the same band wants to be thought of the same way. It’s why aging “boy bands”, with men in their thirties or forties, really are creepy.

“Let’s go to Klub Karaoke.”

Damn Nick. He always knew the right thing to say. Klub Karaoke was this tiny hole in the wall biker gang bar we had discovered just down the road from the main strip of clubs and pubs downtown. Its usual occupancy was about four people, with three of them gruff looking members. Nick liked going there to brighten the place up. In the month or so we had been at university at that point, Nick, Gio, myself and some other guys we knew had collectively been to Klub Karaoke two times before.

The first had involved Nick’s heart warming rendition of Hootie and the Blowfish’s seminal “Let Her Cry”, with the small modification of swapping out the proper lyrics, which Nick may not have been able to read from the screen in front of him at that point in the night, and swapping in as many expletives as he could think of. “Fucking, you fucking fuck face, cock blasters, I fucking hope you die in a shitty pile of fucking rubble, assholes” had never sounded so angrily charming. Afterwards, Nick collapsed facedown on the table, but insisted he was just resting his eyes. That was the same night, when without any intended form of irony or satire, I chose to sing the Eric Clapton version of “Cocaine”. I belted the whole thing out and to my tone deaf, drunken ears; I thought I did a pretty stand up job. When I returned to the table Nick was not impressed. He had a frightened – though bemused – look on his face.

“I think we need to get going.”

“Why?”

“You just fucking sang “Cocaine”.”

“So?”

“There was literally a cocaine deal exchanged at the bar while you were at the mic.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really. I don’t think they were too impressed with your choice of song.”

“How did I sound?”

“Awful. Truly awful.”

“Excellent, let’s go.”

I still don’t know whether a cocaine deal actually transpired, or whether Nick and Gio had got themselves in to a situation at the table while I was blissfully belting out “Cocaine”. The look of the biker nearest our table, a portly fellow with a handlebar mustache was certainly not friendly. Nick had began to space out at whatever he was looking at, and had likely stared at the biker’s lady, a cheetah clad cougar. We got up and started walking out of the bar. Every face followed us to the door. It was no mistake. We really did need to leave.

The second time we went to Klub Karaoke was a week after the first. A haze surrounded the whole evening. I remember black lights. Techno music. And a sudden, panicked intervention from Nick informing me that we had been kicked out for reasons to be explained later. I cheerfully finished my Labatt 50 and moved on with the evening. Nick mentioned something about broken bottles and a fire alarm.

And now, on the eve of the drink a thon challenge between Nick and Gio, Nick had decided to head back to Klub Karaoke. We walked across the campus grounds, planning to make our way to the front of the campus and catch a taxi there. The twelve Heinekens I had drunk to keep pace with Nick were really starting to hit. I had neither the experience nor the composition to handle that much beer in such a short span. We neared the front of the campus and were about to hop in a taxi when my body forced me to pause. I leaned against a wall and let vomit pour out against the brick in front of me and the asphalt below. Relieved, and somewhat more settled I hopped in the cab.

“Dude, you just puked on a church.”

“Huh?”

I looked out the window of the taxi and saw the silhouette of the campus chapel. I was not sure whether I had committed any particular form of sacrilege, but I certainly agreed that it was, at the very least, rude to vomit on the side of any building, religious or secular.

At Klub Karaoke that night was an unusual multitude of patrons.  Inside, Nick and I sat in the corner and watched as the Quebecoise danced their little butts off, while their orangutan boyfriends laughed over forty ounce bottles of cheap domestic. This was not the normal biker crowd, but these folks were not students either. These were people with real jobs and low expectations.

Nick continued to pound down the beers with ease. I don’t remember if I had even touched mine. I knew I had ordered at least one because I had done it at the bar, embarrassingly so, by trying to flirt with the bartender. She was having none of it. To be fair, I likely was not throwing anything sexy out at her anyways. I was still the man who had puked on the side of the campus chapel within the hour. Did I chew any gum? I think I had. I checked my pockets but didn’t find a pack. Nick must have given me some.

I went outside for some air and walked around the corner. My hands rested on my knees and I leaned over to prepare myself for further vomiting. Nothing came out. Saliva dripped from my lips and formed a small puddle on the concrete. I stood up, cleared whatever saliva stuck to the sides of my mouth and walked back towards the bar.

Outside the front door stood a woman smoking a cigarette. She was probably in her early thirties. She was wearing tight jeans and had a down vest over her blouse. I smiled stupidly at her as I went to walk back in to the bar.

“Hello.”

She spoke. It was a rather strange shock.

“Um, hello.”

“Do you speak English or French?”

“English.”

“What’s your name?”

“Jonathan.”

“You are very cute, Jonathan.”

I didn’t feel very cute. She grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the door and had me stand next to her as she finished her cigarette.

“What are you doing here, Jonathan?”

“At the bar?”

“No, in general.”

What a strange way to word it.

“I’m a student.”

“What do you study?”

“History.”

“Very interesting, I like history.”

“Oh.”

This was the extent of our very interesting conversation. When she finished her cigarette she grabbed me again and pulled me against her down vest and planted her mouth on mine. We kissed for maybe a minute or two and then she reached in to her purse and on the back of a receipt wrote down her phone number.

“You call?”

She re-entered the bar at the same time that Nick came out to find me.

“Hey, how’s it going? Did you puke again?”

“No, but I did just make out with that woman.”

Nick looked back and saw the down vest disappear in to Klub Karaoke.

“Awesome.”

On the cab ride back we couldn’t settle on whether I had actually chewed any gum that evening. It was two in the morning, which in those days was actually fairly early, but Nick and I both agreed that considering he had to start drinking for fifteen hours at nine some sleep might be helpful. I decided to swallow about a litre of water and collapse on my bed.

The next morning when my alarm went off I was thankful for thinking to hydrate myself. After all that alcohol, not to mention the purging, it does the body good to ensure it does not turn in to the Gobi overnight.

Nick was not in good shape at all that morning. Gio had alerted me to his awakening by flicking on his stereo, letting Guns ‘N Roses blast, and hopping in the shower. Nick, on the other hand needed some prompting to join the living world. When we started slandering his masculinity and raising the possibility of declaring Gio the winner, then and there, that’s when the door finally opened. Wearing his samurai sandal look (white socks and flip-flops), boxers and a hooded sweater, the Pride of Dartmouth opened the door.

“Let’s do this.”

Gio, looking fresh from his shower and likely having not debauched himself in the same manner as we had last night, handed Nick a bottle of Ex. Their eyes met, heads nodded in agreement, bottle tops were tipped, and down the hatch went the golden ale.

My watch read nine o three. There were fourteen hours and fifty-seven minutes of drinking remaining. Gio was excited. Nick was hung over. I was thankful I didn’t have to compete.

Their competition grew in importance as other people became aware of it. It never became a widespread campus infatuation along the lines of college football, but those who were in the know began to place bets on which drinker they thought would pull the feat off. There were the obvious bets to place, such as picking the winner. Other side bets included whether you thought both of them would make it to midnight, one would, or neither. There were pools built to bet on the shares of alcohol they would consume during the day. That one didn’t fare so well as nearly everyone involved chose beer over hard spirits and wine. These were obscure wagers to reflect their obscure participants. Gio and Nick were not university celebrities, but their face or names were occasionally recognised by the seedy type of folk who also liked to drink too much or place a friendly bet. There were a lot of people like that.

The contest had started out a bit messy. After that first beer, Nick had put on jeans and started on a second. Within the span of the first ten minutes he had already spilled a bit on his jeans. It landed on his crotch. The sort of sophomoric humour that would suggest he might have urinated himself. Vulgar, disgusting, unbelievable: who would enjoy such lowbrow fare?

“Haha, man it looks like you pissed yourself!”

“Yeah, it kind of does. That’s hilarious! I’m gonna roll with this.”

Nick always had a way of taking the shameful attention and inverting it in to some strange form of empowerment. It was if he wanted others to think that he had pissed his pants. If they thought that, he won. I didn’t really understand that. I had come from a long history of shameful attention being nothing more than shameful. Being unable to control a fart during a silent prayer, for example. That’s bad enough, but having that happen when seated next to a cute girl you like, that’s the worst. It happened. Beet red faces of embarrassment were far more familiar to me than Nick’s empowered use of awkwardness. But, as I have mentioned, he just had that ability to dictate the room.

“I’m hungry, let’s grab some food, Gio.”

With that, Nick in his stained pants, along with Gio and a bewildered version of myself headed down to the cafeteria. After a short breakfast, the competition began in earnest. Nick and Gio kept a steady pace of alcohol going in to their bloodstream. They managed to consume three bottles of beer, each, per hour. It was an alarming amount, but the assuredness of the contestants made the general unease of the rest of us subside. Those of us who had unease, that’s. Midge and Whatsherface were cheering loudly for these “pussies” to drink up.

With the drink in them, the boys began to talk. Gio rambled on throughout the day of his many exploits growing up as a military brat, moving from province to province, and then from country to country, going wherever his father was posted. His last several years had been split between Italy and Belgium. In Italy, he had actually gone to school with Whatsherface, a fact that we were not sure Gio even believed. Other seemingly doubtful stories spewed from his mouth when under the influence of “truth serum”. He told us about how he had met his girlfriend while high on LSD. He said he had dated Dkembe Mutombo’s niece. He had slept with an African president’s daughter. A girl had stabbed him with a fork when he broke up with her over dinner. That last one seemed the most unbelievable until he showed us a scar on his abdomen. I forgot to ask him if he still had his appendix.

Nick’s drunken stories were far more pedestrian in nature. It was like a drunker version of my own childhood. He and his buddies would stay out late and cause a small ruckus, but usually were harmless to anyone but themselves. His most daring accomplishment in his youth was pissing on an air crash memorial. It was hard to tell whether he meant to be mean spirited or if this was just a youth looking for a place to urinate and he happened to be drinking within twenty feet of a monument. Was he looking for some sort of higher significance? Nick didn’t elaborate much on whether this was about some generational battle between reverence and rebellion. I couldn’t help but think of my inadvertent vomiting on the side of the campus chapel last night. Was that an intended slight against tradition and hierarchy? I don’t remember it that way. I remember in the flash of a second needing a place, any place, to lean against and relieve my stomach. The first place I found coincidentally was the chapel wall. How coincidental was Nick’s urination? I’d like to say it didn’t have any meaning, but here we were talking about it years later.

Despite the copious, routine amounts of beer entering their systems, Nick and Gio’s day actually seemed to fly by in time. In the middle of the afternoon, they took in a football game. In the parking lot before the game, tailgaters barbequed burgers and drank beer behind their vehicles. Nick and Gio wandered among them, snagging a hot dog here and there, stopping to share a beer with new friends. Their advanced inebriation didn’t seem out of place in the crowd, helping them to transition from the relative safety of being confined in residence and the dangerous freedom that lurked in the outside world. The game had already started, but many tailgaters lingered in the parking lot well in to the first half. They explained to Nick and Gio that they still had to finish their burgers and beers and then they’d have to let the barbeque cool down and load in to their trucks. Once all that was over then they usually joined the game at the half. New to university life, our contestants listened to the upperclassmen and alumni in the lot. They learned that the football team stunk anyways and that nobody really cared either way. Saturday afternoons meant drinking in a row of trucks outside a half full stadium. Nick and Gio were all too obliged to stick around, sit in some folding camp chairs and shoot the breeze. They found an interesting assortment of people tailgating. All the campus gossip was passed around the crowd. In a small town, with few entertainment options, gossip was currency. The upperclassmen dished out what they had overheard last night at the pub. The alumni shared legendary stories about their favourite professors. In this town everyone had flaws and foibles. Some were earth shattering, others far too ordinary to be noted. Nick and Gio took it all in.

Inside the stadium, the game did end up being a disappointment. The team really did stink and lost the game in the first half. By the time Nick and Gio arrived the game might as well have been over, so deep was the deficit. It didn’t matter as the drinking buddies were just looking for a backdrop for their more interesting story; two young men’s sauced journey of discovery.

After the game, and back in residence, the homestretch of the contest was appearing on the horizon. Much to my surprise as referee, both men were faring quite well. I was considering devoting my life to studying their superhuman bodies. In order to keep track of their totals, each man had kept their empty bottles, and they confirmed for each other how much each drank at the football game. The number was staggering. At this point both had also kept the same pace. From then until midnight, in order to win someone was going to have to outpace the other.

We gathered in Midge’s room and got in to our normal routine of picking apart her sentences. Regional expressions were always up for discussion as our group came from across the country and what we had always assumed were normal phrases where we came from were unheard of in other regions, or were a different variant. Nick’s Maritime expressions, no matter how ridiculous they sounded, always seemed to win new admirers. I believe he had me sold that an exaggerated fall was actually falling “ass over tea kettle”. You can’t argue with a nice turn of phrase like that. It was beautifully, elegantly constructed and delivered with just the right amount of folksy elocution to impress any ear. Midge, on the other hand, was from Southern Ontario and suffered from the same linguistic disabilities many residents of that region do. Precision was always lacking, for one. Telling us one of her friends was going to the University of Western Ontario in London had the rest of us checking our maps to see if that was a satellite campus. Apparently the western part of the province was in the southeast. She tried to explain it to me, but it never got past the part of me asking which province is west of Ontario. As soon as we can all agree that Manitoba is on the western frontier of Ontario, the sooner we can agree that the University of Western Ontario needs to be moved to Thunder Bay or Kenora. Misuse of real words was another. When we bothered her, she asked us to stop harping her. That seemed like a perfectly nice thing to do. Angels played harps. We were being angelic, you might say. It was all the more fun to note that she was a modern languages major. There was some hope that English might be included in her requisite studies.

The night passed quickly and those of us who had started drinking in the evening were still feeling pretty good. Nick and Gio, however, were finally appearing human. Neither one looked particularly healthy, either. Nick left to get another beer from his fridge and didn’t return. We went to check on him and he had fallen asleep on his bed, fully clothed. This was at eleven thirty two. He had only needed to go another twenty-eight minutes to finish. In the meantime, Gio continued to drink and in that final stretch to midnight drank an additional two beers on top of what Nick had. At the stroke of midnight I officially declared him the winner, which was unnecessary, as Nick had lost the moment he passed out. Gio, I think, just wanted to complete the marathon for good measure. By my count Gio had drank forty-five beers in fifteen hours. Nick, not to be discounted, had still managed to drink forty-three in fourteen and a half hours. What we had was a Mark McGuire Sammy Sosa showdown of beer, both to be commended for their efforts.

It was the next day, around noon and I was sitting in Midge’s room, watching a movie, when Gio popped in to say hello. He was wearing the clothes from last night and had a beer in hand.

“What’s up?”

“Just watching a movie.”

“Dude, I just woke up and there was a beer next to my bed.”

“Was not it warm?”

“Yeah, man.”

It was really hard not to see how that might bother any other person. Gio, champion of the drinking world, however, had no such boundaries.

“So, you are drinking a warm beer?”

“Yeah, man.”

Later in the afternoon, Nick finally joined us. He looked like shit and smelled almost as bad. What had happened to him was clear. This was a man who had drank forty-three beers and then passed out. It took all the glamour away from the accomplishments of yesterday. It was a behind the scenes look at something no one had ever really wanted to see. Drunkards were cool in university, and to see someone match the feats of Animal House brought part of the whole experience to a deeper level of awesomeness. But no one had any interest in witnessing the most gruesome form of hangover you could imagine. Plus, the smell was truly dreadful. Nick’s body odour permeated from his skin to the clothes he wore and finally, without any real delay, found itself travelling deep within our noses.

“You look and smell like shit.”

“Thanks, Midge. I hadn’t noticed.”

“Really? We could smell you coming down the hallway.”

“That was sarcastic, you stupid bitch.”

“Oh, Nick. You are pretty hung over.”

Got to hand it to Nick, even when he was being incredibly offensive and was physically nauseating to be near, somehow, in even these moments, he had a way of charming everyone. He really did look and smell like shit, though. Gio, however, looked, smelled, and sounded as if nothing had happened the day before.

“Aren’t you hung over, Gio?”

“Yeah, man.”

“You really don’t look it.”

“Oh.”

Nick was flummoxed. He really couldn’t comprehend how Gio might have been able to outlast him and then appear perfectly fine the next day. He did, however, begin to formulate his own defence. Men, you may already know, are creatures driven by ego.

“It’s pretty crazy, Nick, that Gio just woke up, beer in hand and kept going today.”

“I think I have probably had three or four since I woke up.”

“Nice, that must be a great two day tally. Forty-eight or nine, is it?”

“Wait a second, before Gio goes on about his two day total, may I remind you of Friday night?”

It’s funny how long ago Friday night had felt. I had forgotten where I put the phone number that woman outside Klub Karaoke had given me. It was on a receipt somewhere. I usually throw out receipts, so it was probably lost now.

“What about Friday?”

“Jonathan will vouch for me on this one, we had twelve beer each before we went to Klub Karaoke. I drank two pitchers to myself there, while he was outside making out with some dirty older woman. And when we got back to rez, I drank two bottles before I crashed.”

No wonder Nick had looked so awful the morning of the contest, he was hung over from having drank the equivalent of twenty two beers the night before.

“He did drink all that.”

“Wait, Nick, are you saying that you think you were more impressive?”

Women needed to learn the ego thing very early in adult life to understand most of our behaviour. Midge was not quite there yet, but was working on it.

“Well, Midge, if everybody is impressed that Gio woke up today and drank a beer, and his two day total is forty eight or nine, I’d just like to point out that with yesterday and Friday I ended up with a two day total of sixty-five beer. That’s all I want to say.”

A compromise was agreed upon at that point to spare the egos of the two valiant, and ultimately stupid competitors. Gio would forever be known as the one day champion of drinking, having consumed forty-five beers on a Saturday that September. After adding to his tally on the Sunday, Nick laid claim to an impressive weekend total of seventy four beers, a mark that as far as any of us know, stands to this day among eighteen-year-old university freshmen.”’

Jonathan wondered if any of his graduating classmates even remembered that story. It was just four years ago, but he remembered it as being the time when anything was possible. Now only one possibility sat in front of them all.

 

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