Risky business

I don’t really know much about Jackass, except that those involved in the show and movie lived up to that name like it was their job (and it was). But, you can be a jackass in real life when you drink and drive. In that case, that makes me a jackass. (Thank you Sarah for blogging about this, otherwise I would have never really thought about my own mistake).

First, let me begin by saying that I’m not a big drinker. Ask all of my high school friends and they will tell you that I hardly ever touched a drop of alcohol while in high school (quick note–I lived in Mexico, so drinking was legal..most of the time). I was actually the designated driver. Sometimes I did want to drink but my safety and my friends’ safety mattered much more to me than having a good time (one that I would most likely forget anyways). Plus, I lived the farthest so usually I had to drive and pick up my friends because not everyone was willing to take me home, and so it was riskier to drive longer distances under the influence. And driving in Mexico, where people hardly ever respect traffic laws after midnight, the risk was immeasurable.

In college, I began to loosen up during my junior year. Not that I never drank before, but now I would drink larger quantities (and for a small girl, multiply that times 10). Still, driving to go out is unnecessary in a town like Bethlehem. You just walk to Molly’s (which was about 50 ft away from my apartment) or all the other bars, only 5 minutes away on foot.

Then there was Dallas, where I interned the summer before senior year. It was also the summer of my 21st birthday, an age I had so desperately been longing for ever since my friends began going to the bar at Lehigh, leaving me and other non-21ers stranded in some moldy basement. Three of my high school friends took a road trip up to Dallas to celebrate this rite of passage with me and, because I had always been the goody two shoes when it came to drinking, I decided to let go of my inhibitions and drink like they did (which was considerably more than I was used to).

The problem was that the night we were going out to celebrate I had to work until 12 (on the rim, the night shift). So, I couldn’t take a taxi to the club. I’d have to drive there, and therefore drive us back to my apartment after the club closed.

And then one mistake led to another. I drank three Redbull vodkas in the span of what seemed to be 20 minutes. Then there were shots. I really don’t remember how many, but plenty since we became friends with the bartender.

I never thought about my car or my friends or myself. I just wanted to have a good time with them after so many years of repressed drinking and designated driving.

Then reality struck at 2 a.m. when the bar closed. It was time to head out into the parking lot and retrieve my car. But no, my head was spinning. Everything in front of me moved so slowly. The sounds around me even seemed to become sluggish. It took me a few seconds to respond to every question or comment. I was laughing. I was trying to focus. Nothing was working. And yet I needed to get my car and leave. But how could I? And how could I fake sobriety so my friends wouldn’t panic? Dallas isn’t a town. It’s a huge city, and a few weeks before a speeding car had sideswiped my friend’s car as we were heading home after work (it was midnight, on a Saturday).

I decided to drive. It’s still painful to think about it. I was so aware that I wasn’t supposed to be driving and I still decided to drive. I remember that it hit me during the trip back home that I had to be extra careful because of my delayed reactions. I even got on the same freeway where my friend and I had been sideswiped. I justified this by telling myself that the quicker I got home the better it was for everybody. Still, I was shaking inside those 20 minutes of driving, and it didn’t help that my friends were turning up the volume and singing in their intoxicated state of revelry. I don’t blame them–I blame myself.

My mom knew my friends were going to Dallas, and she knew that it was my 21st birthday. Earlier that day she had told me not to drink and drive. Take a taxi, she said. I was in a hurry so I just agreed and told her not to worry. Now the one who was most worried was me.

We arrived at my apartment unscathed. Still, I was shaking. I couldn’t believe what I had just done. I felt horrible. After all of those years of being the designated driver, after all of those years of making the right decision, I turn 21 and decide to undo it all.

I of course told my mom about it. She was really disappointed, but I knew that was better than having kept it a secret. I vow never to drink and drive again, nor to be in the same car with a drunken driver.

It’s just not worth it.



2 thoughts on “Risky business

  1. Aww, Liz! Everyone makes mistakes. I did it once before as well, after my freshman year. Went home and threw up, not from the alcohol but from the realization of what a stupid thing I just did. And I found out the next day that I had been driving through a town with several police checkpoints set up! Never, never, never, never, ever again.

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