Truth and Bull

October again. You read this bilge, you know the drill: It’s a month for thinking about the lessons time teaches us, and what they’re good for today. Not long ago, I came across an entry in my journal that was written in the summer of 2001 after a company bus trip to a baseball game, and which I have edited somewhat. It’s got nothing to do with music, but it does have to do with the lessons of October, and what might be the most important lesson of all. As is always the case with off-topic posts, you can skip it if you want and you won’t hurt my feelings.

On the bus, we sat near a group of four couples, all in their early-to-middle 20s. Three of the couples were guests of one of my colleagues. They came equipped with a cooler full of Miller Lite. Before we’d gotten anywhere near Milwaukee, they had dug deeper into the cooler for giant bottles of cinnamon schnapps and watermelon schnapps, which they passed around with purposeful enthusiasm, encouraging each other to drink. We saw them later at the game. By that time, all of them had the bleary-eyed look of the walking intoxicated. Several were holding bottles of Lite, the wide-mouth plastic bottles that look like nothing so much as baby bottles—an apt metaphor.

On the bus after the game, two of the guys and one of the girls were completely obliterated. The drama that unfolded next is timeless. One of the guys responded to a playful noogie from the other as a major insult. This set him to ranting, in an inchoate, one-syllable manner, about the nature of truth. “It’s all bullshit,” Truthseeker remarked. “We think we’re telling each other the truth but it’s all bullshit.” (Why he suddenly leaped from noogies to Truth is a mystery to me.) An equally intoxicated companion, Angie, reacted tearfully to this rant, and ended up trading seats with Truthseeker so she could sit next to his girlfriend, Judy, who had looked as if she were going to vomit since before gametime, and who slept most of the way home.

Now Truthseeker was in the same seat with Max, Angie’s boyfriend. We have already established Truthseeker as a belligerent drunk and Angie as a weepy drunk. Max was a stupid drunk—although he hadn’t seemed particularly bright when sober, at the start of the bus ride. The editing function that keeps most of us from making asses of ourselves was completely turned off by the alcoholic smorgasbord Max had consumed over the previous six hours.

As the bus rolled west on I-94, Max and Truthseeker plunged into the classic drunk-guy conversation, in which males who would normally eschew such subject matter for fear of seeming gay suddenly start talking about the depths of their friendship and their deepest hopes for finding future happiness, love, joy, and peace. Or that’s how such conversations seem to the intoxicated participants. To a sober observer, they seem a little less coherent. At one point, I guessed it was even money whether Max and Truthseeker would come to blows or start crying.

As we got to Madison, the conversation waned, and Max spiraled into greater stupidity, at one point informing his fellow passengers in a loud voice, “I’ve got a huge boner right now.” I didn’t doubt it. Angie, his girlfriend, a blonde with a too-pretty face and a firm little body, likely kept Max in perpetual bonerhood most of the time. His friends were shushing him by this time, even the ones who had been half-asleep on the ride home. I didn’t see what direction all of them went after leaving the bus—no doubt Truthseeker and Judy went home to get sick, while Max and Angie went away to have five minutes of fumbling sex before passing out.

I do not know what became of Max, Angie, Truthseeker, and Judy, or where they are now, in their mid 30s and far removed from a drunken night they have probably forgotten. This I do know: When we’re young, we can’t see clearly who we are, and our opinions about what our lives are supposed to be about—what Truthseeker and Max were trying to figure out that night—is so much balloon juice. Only when we’re older do we approach something like understanding. Only now do we begin to see ourselves as we really are, and as we really were. Which is idiots, mostly.

2 responses

  1. I always have, and always will have a “boner” for people who can’t hold their liquor, don’t know when to stop, and inflict their bullshit on others. Several years ago the Mrs. and I dropped north of $300 apiece for a ticket to a Packers game, a tailgate “event” at the Brett Favre Steakhouse parking lot, and motorcoach transportation both ways. There was one guy, a lone male, among the paying customers, who began drinking from a flask the minute the bus rolled north from Pier 37 in Monona. When we were deposited at the parking lot of the Steakhouse in Ashwaubenon, we were given several stern warnings from the driver that the bus would roll back to Madison 45 minutes after the end of the game – NO exceptions. Be here or be left behind. Of course, the straggler was the drinking man, and after sitting on the bus a half-hour past deadline waiting for this dufus, the passengers – me and my bride included – started to chant “let’s go”. Finally the drunk hove into view and stumbled onto the bus. A few minutes into the trip home, he began loud, drunken discourses about how the Packers suck (they’d just won, big) and how all Packers fans are a$$holes and co%#$uckers and such. Not too far south of Green Bay on HiWay 41, he puked in the aisle. The driver pulled over, and while he was busy swamping out the aisle, the drunk passed out. Just outside Oshkosh, before you take that jog to the southwest on HiWay 26, he woke up and began loudly ranting again. A young man in the row ahead of the drunk turned around and cold-cocked the guy with a single powerful punch to the jaw. After the rest of us were done applauding, another of the passengers stood up and said “if anything should ever come of this, did anybody actually see anything? Did anybody witness the punch?” We all agreed that we’d seen nothing. As we exited the bus in Monona, the guy was still out cold.

    The next day we suggested to the travel agency we’d bought the package from that they institute a policy that drunks who disturb others should be removed from the bus.

    We got the predictable response about their having “no control in these matters”.

  2. I have never understood why people will spend big coins to attend a concert or sporting event and then get so blasted while there that they can’t possibly remember any of it.

    Corollary: We once attended a concert where the two guys sitting in front of us spent the whole thing talking loudly to one another (mostly about how successful their businesses were and how many women they had) and going out to buy beers. $75 a ticket to do what they could have done in TGI Fridays without annoying other people who spent $75 a ticket.

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