BOTH OF RICK'S ENDS

    Warning: this one is a little gross.

    OK, here goes:

    I was a freshman in college, and I got a crash course in binge drinking my first semester away at school. I had this roommate (this would be the guy that I mentioned in the other story about the dive bar) who was a small person. He was a recruited soccer player (and from what I had heard and seen, a pretty good one), maybe 130 pounds soaking wet, and no more than 5'2". In spite of his small stature, he was a guy who aspired to big things, both on the field of play and off of it. One thing that was true of Rick (and most other male college athletes) is that he loved a good party, and loved a drink. He had remarked on many an occasion that he was partially Irish, and loved to blame his affinity for the booze on his heritage. I always thought that blaming it on his Irishness was a bullshit excuse, anyway - he would have been getting loaded every weekend whether he was an Irishman, or a Russian, or a Zulu tribesman.

    Our modus operandi on the weekends was one of two plans: have a couple of drinks in the dorm and then go to a party or a bar, or have a couple of drinks in the dorm and then follow up with many more drinks in the dorm. Regardless, the weekend events tended to revolve around binge drinking with our dorm mates.

    Procuring our booze was usually no problem. I had purchased a lovely false ID the summer before college started from an enterprising young frat boy at Drexel who had an extremely high-tech computer setup and had turned his room in the frat house into "Fake ID Land". It was a very convincing fake. Still, because of the proliferation of fake IDs in our college town (which is usually the case with most college towns, as I was to come to learn), many merchants were very careful about selling booze to people with out-of-state licenses. I was attending school in New York, but my ID was from Virginia, so occasionally there was some difficulty in bringing home the bacon for my thirsty chums.

    There was one convenience store, though, that was completely indescretionary when it came to alcohol sales. The M & H Mart was owned by a group of enterprising young Pakistanis who had absolutely no reservations about selling booze to anyone who had the financial wherewithal to pay for it. As if this fact alone didn't make them the booze store of choice most days, M & H was famous in town for having a "Beer of the Week" special, as well as the best, low-budget brew deal in the state- just $.89 would buy you a chilly forty ounce bottle of Piel's - 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 

    Anybody that knows anything about beer will tell you that Piel's is unequivocally one of the most nasty brews available for commercial consumption. It was one of those brands like Hamm's, Schaefer, or Schlitz that used to be considered a marquee brand by our forefathers (the true pioneers of binge drinking, like Tony & Mike's pop), but had gotten progressively cheaper and more foul with each passing year. By the time my roommate and I were discovering the joys of cheap beer as college freshman in 1991, Piel's had pretty much reached the proverbial "bottom of the barrel", and was to be drank only when absolutely necessary or when funds were tight - this was basically all the time, as we were poor students.

    POOR, poor students. And so we bought and drank the Peil's on many an occasion, and we liked it.

    Rick especially loved drinking Piel's. He once remarked that it had been his brew of choice while honing his underage drinking skills while growing up, a young alcoholic in the making, in Buffalo. If anything, he continued to sharpen and practice his Piel's consumption until it reached a legendary state - how many little guys like Rick do you know that have it in them to be able to drink three forty-ounce bottles of beer BEFORE going out (in a smashed state, of course) to a frat party?

    Well, the night in question here began in much the same manner as described above - Rick and I loaded ourselves into my ancient green Cadillac and drove to the M & H Mart, where I bought a twelve-pack of Michelob for myself and Rick bought his usual - one hundred and twenty ounces of cold gold incarnate - three forties of Piel's. He and I headed back to the dorm, victorious in our purchase, and had a few of our friends over to our room for a cocktail and maybe some five-card stud before heading out to party. 

    Not long into our little pow-wow, another of our friends burst into the room and blurted out the latest breaking news - the party had been called off for some reason, and we now needed to find something else to do. Rick immediately made some phone calls and learned of a big soiree at the apartment of one of his soccer chums, and started making plans to attend the party (now, bear in mind that his preparation consisted of basically downing two of the three bottles of beer, putting on a clean Polo shirt - for the ladies, of course - and then heading out to the party, armed with only the remaining forty of Piel's and a five dollar bill for a cover charge). I instead called a few of the lovely young ladies that lived on the floor above, and rapidly organized an impromptu penny poker game between them, a few of my freshman pals, a big bottle of tequila, and myself. 

We played poker for some time, smoking cigarettes and no one getting ahead more than seventy five cents or a buck, and were having the time of our lives. The beers were going down like water, the room was smoky, and stakes grew higher (the minimum bet had grown to a whopping dime!). The girls were getting lubed, the fellas bleary-eyed from the tequila, and events looked very promising indeed for some "late-night one on one shenanigans" with any one of the lovely female participants. 

    As I began posturing for a night of sin with one of the little beauties, another friend of mine from the dorm, Mark, walked in. Now mind you - it was Friday night, everyone was getting nice and lit, and the night was fairly young. Mark did not look look much like his happy-go-lucky self. As a matter of fact, he looked downright worried.

    "Marky Mark! What's the good word there, compadre?" I asked. I was really beginning to buzz from the icy cold Michelobs as well as an undetermined amount of tequila shots. 

    "Uh, Rich...you ought to go see Rick," Mark said.

    "Oh, man, Rick is a wasted mess, man! He had two forties of Piel's in him before he even left the dorm, which brings me to point B: Rick is at a soccer party and he won't even be..." I trailed off, noticing that Mark was slowly shaking his head.

    "Dude, Rick isn't at any party. He's here in the dorm." 

    "Sure, man!" I laughed. "He's flying laps around my head like fucking Tinkerbell!"

    "I'm serious, man." Mark said. "Rick's in the bathroom and he's...uh...not doing so well."

    At this last statement, everybody got silent and looked first at Mark, and then at me. In spite of the serious tone of the whole thing, I couldn't help but sort of chuckle and reply sarcastically, "Oh yeah? Well, lead me to him! Fozzie to the rescue!" (Fozzie Bear was my nickname as a frosh...I'm not sure if it was due to my omnipresent beard scruff, or my penchant for telling crappy jokes and tall tales). Everyone else gave a sort of drunken guffaw, and we all (both men and ladies, of course-they weren't gonna let a little thing like a "Men's-Only" bathroom ruin their seeing my roomie in some comical state) followed Mark to the First Floor Men's room, just three doors down from our dorm room.

    The first thing that hit me as I entered the wide-open shower area of the bathroom was the STENCH. I have never been waste-deep in decaying corpses in a non-ventilated room before or since, but I would speculate that the smell of the dorm lavatory was the rough equivalent. Indeed, after all of the beer and tequila I had consumed, it was all I could do to keep from emitting a violent Technicolor Yawn all over the showers. My pals apparently thought the same of the negatively perfumed air - it was enough to immediately usher a few of the ladies and even a fella or two right back out the door from whence they had come.

    I walked farther into the bathroom (and closer to the vile stink, readers. It smelled like the breath of a 3 pack-a-day smoker just after drinking coffee and eating a freaking garlic bagel!), still looking for Rick, when Mark said, "He's in the toilet...the farthest one by the window."

    I turned the corner in the lav to approach the toilet area, and that's when I finally saw Rick...

    Or at least his clothes, right off the bat. It was like something out of a "Peanuts" cartoon - remember what it would look like when Charlie Brown would let a fastball go right down the middle of the plate, and some unseen other player would just hit the living bejeezus out of the ball right back at Charlie, somehow knocking him completely out of his clothes? Well, it appeared that ol' Rick had let a slow fastball get pulverized by that same unseen hitter. And the funniest thing was, he must have been wearing eight layers of clothing when he had gone out that night - there were shirts, socks, shoes, pants, hats, jackets, umbrellas, an old tire, a dead fish- you get the picture. It just seemed like there was enough clothing to dress our entire floor. 

    Rick was in the last stall, just as Mark had said. It was the only stall that had a closed door at the time, which I was to be very thankful for, in a minute.

    I approached the stall, when I noticed something rather out of the ordinary - Rick must have been sitting barefoot on the toilet because all I could see was a pair of bare ankles and feet. Oh and one more thing: they were completely submerged in about three inches of lumpy, brownish fluid that could only attribute its origin to Rick's queasy stomach. It was unbelievable - from my vantage point at the front of the toilet stall, it appeared that some jokester with a sick sense of humor had taken it upon him or herself to dump a bucket of vomit on Rick while he sat, without shoes and utterly defenseless, on the pot. 

    "Rick? Brother?" I asked, trying to sound as sympathetic as possible (as much as was humanly possible from a guy who revels in the overindulgence of alcohol in others, and was nearing a shitfaced state himself). "Are you OK in there, man?"

    This question brought on gales of hysterical laughter from behind the stall door. He laughed so hard, in fact, that he literally started gagging (for at least the second time that evening).

    "C'mon, man, seriously. Is everything kosher in there?" I asked again.

    Again, more crazy, choking laughter came from the stall. This time, it did seem to elicit a physical response - the stall seemed to shudder as his laughter trailed off.

    All of a sudden, his right foot disappeared from view. With a blow that seemed to rock the very foundation of our beloved lavatory, he kicked with all his might, breaking the latch on the stall and kicking the door wide open.

    There sat my roomie - my brother, my partner in crime - in a state I would love to never see ANYONE in again if I were to live to be a hundred years old. He sat there, naked as the day he was born, on the pot. His legs and chest were covered in his own puke, and there was a round vomit puddle that started right in front of him and ran all the way back behind the toilet to the back wall (where the plumbing disappeared into the cinder block wall). 

    The thing I can't get out of mind about the whole thing was his hysterical laughter. I had literally never seen anyone laugh so hard in my life- he was simply shaking like a leaf and tears were rolling down his face. He looked up at me with crossed eyes and, struggling to find his composure if only for a moment, said the words that I would tease him about for the rest of the semester:

    "Dude, every time I puke...I shit."

    Well, as the mafia fellas say, fahgettaboutit. Me and the skimpy audience that had watched this whole gory drama unfold fell to pieces. I remember thinking (as I laughed so hard that I had a sore throat for days afterward) that I had better get ahold of myself before I went and became the second person to soil the bathroom that night.

    After we gathered our collective composure, we got to the business of cleansing Rick of his Vomitcolor Dreamcoat. One of my other friends had somehow procured a big pair of yellow rubber cleaning gloves, and he was the one who grabbed Rick by his naked, pukey shoulders to throw him in the shower. After most of the big chunks had been swabbed from his deck, we wrapped him in a big towel and tucked him into bed, where he passed out almost instantaneously. 

    One of the unspoken rules (the freshman dorm "omerta", if you will) is to never rat out a friend when he or she did anything that went unnoticed by the RAs. To get the ball rolling on cleaning up the bathroom, someone slid a note under our RA's floor in the middle of the night that aid, simply: 

PUKE ON FLOOR OF BATHROOM.
SMELLS BAD.
YOU FIX, NOW.

    The following day, the only thing left to remind us of Rick's little excursion was his colossal hangover. The bathroom stall had been cleaned up without a trace, but ol' Rick didn't get up until 7PM - when we finally dragged him out of bed to go and get some dinner.

    But you can bet your ass I'll never let him live this one down.

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