The first day of college is arguably one of the most important in a man’s life. As New York Times best selling author W.R. Bolen put it, “High school was the minor leagues,” and on your first day of college, you’re a rookie in the majors. I left high school with a basic working knowledge of the two things that would make up a decent chunk of my activity for the next four years of my life: alcohol and women. Of course, being a typical college freshman, I thought I was good in both categories.
Unlike most college freshmen, I did not have a typical summer. While most of my counterparts were spending their time drinking, hanging out, and working menial jobs, I was doing pretty much the exact opposite. Four days after I graduated high school, while most of my friends were participating in the age old rite of passage known as “Beach Week,” I left for Basic Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. This training, which certainly made me a better man and prepared me for pledging, had one very unfortunate side effect: I came into college with absolutely no alcohol tolerance.
I left Fort Knox and went immediately to college the next day. I still had the cue ball haircut, and all my uniforms and issued items packed into a big green duffel bag when I moved into my dorm. The sense of freedom was overwhelming, to say the least. Not to mention, Fort Knox, which at the time was where cavalry scouts and tankers went for training, was essentially an all-male post. I was extremely pleased to be surrounded by young, attractive females who were all enjoying the same newfound freedom that I was.
As soon as my parents left, I met up with one of my best friends from high school, Brad, who happened to go to the same college as I did. Being the typical freshmen that we were, we frantically tried to piece together a plan for the evening. After all, we didn’t want to be in one of the huge groups of dudes trying to get into the same party. Fortunately, some people who’d graduated from our high school a few years before us were kind enough to invite us to a pregame at their place. Our plan was to have a few drinks in the dorm, go to the pregame, and eventually go to a rush party at one of the many fraternity houses that graced Main Street.
We started the night with our own “pregame,” which consisted of each of us taking roughly three shots out of a water bottle of vodka that Brad had filled from his parents’ liquor cabinet before leaving for school. After that, we headed towards the real pregame. Upon arriving, I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. Free booze flowed from every corner of the room. Although I would later come to hate gatherings like this (those that took place in crowded apartments, had shitty music, and were attended by a random assortment of people), for someone who hadn’t really had freedom for the past few months, I enjoyed it.
After a few beers, I was feeling pretty good. Like I said, I had absolutely no tolerance. A couple months of not drinking and losing weight will do that to you. One of the girls I knew there told me to drink the jungle juice. While I normally wouldn’t, I thought it couldn’t hurt to get a stronger buzz going. That was the point where everything went to shit. I don’t know how many I drank, but apparently I had enough. It was pretty evident to Brad that if I stayed there any longer, I probably wouldn’t make it out the door, so he decided that we should head to the fraternity house early.
Being the lightweight that I was, I wasn’t taking the walk too well. We made it a few blocks before I decided I needed to take a seat. I must have drifted off while sitting down, because I awoke to some asshole shining a bright light in my face. Thankfully, it was a security guard and not a cop, but he insisted that I couldn’t sleep on that particular piece of sidewalk. So, Brad and I started walking again, but it wasn’t long before I really wasn’t feeling good. It could’ve been the sugary jungle juice or the alcohol, but something tells me it was a mix of both because I proceeded to throw up what seemed like five gallons of straight liquid in the middle of the street.
Brad and I knew that there was no way I was going to make it. Being the good friend that he is, he tried persuading me to get a cab back to the dorm. Being the asshole that I am, I was adamant about doing no such thing. Instead, I decided that I’d stay out that night. Literally.
I made my way towards a nearby copse of trees, found a position with good cover and concealment, got down on my stomach, and began drunkenly “camouflaging” myself. In reality, I was just covering myself in leaves, but at the time, it seemed like a surefire way to remain hidden. Brad bought me a bottle of water and after telling him numerous times, he went on without me. I wish I could say the story ended here, but unfortunately, it does not.
I woke up an hour or two later to the sound of rustling leaves. The moonlight was shining through the tree limbs in such a way that I was just barely able to see my surroundings. I looked up and staring me in the eye was a possum.
I don’t think it knew I was there. If it did, it surely thought I was dead. I honestly think it was eating my vomit, which I guess to a possum is a pretty good meal because it was pissed when it noticed me. I don’t know who was more startled. I yelled, it hissed, and we both knew only one of us was getting out of there alive. With some superhuman speed, I jumped to my feet, attempted to kick the possum, missed, and then booked it the fuck out of the woods.
In retrospect, the possum probably would have run away, but when you’re fucked up, you just can’t take that chance. I ran the mile back to my dorm covered in puke and leaves, half-fearing that the possum could be on my tail. Of course, it was more scared than I was and probably wasn’t going to pursue me, but like I said, when you’re fucked up, you don’t take that chance.
The only reason I can tell this story as I am is that Brad helped piece together the pre-possum part and adrenaline temporarily brought me out of my black out for the second half of the night. The story soon circulated around the dorm and eventually followed me into pledging. It got around to parents over breaks too, because every time I met someone’s mom and dad, they always asked if I was the “possum guy.”