This is it. This is the end. I have been saying for years that I am an old man with achy joints and tired muscles. But I have officially hit a wall.
I am too old for open bar.
Thankfully, I am not alone.
Earlier this year, several of my friends from college headed north for a wedding weekend in the Berkshires. Years ago, we’d all have taken the day off, maybe even made it a 4-day weekend. Not anymore. Now I have to wait until the market closes at 4pm, run to meet other people who also couldn’t leave earlier, and then make a couple calls from the train to wrap up the week. The three of us should have napped; instead we chatted throughout the 2-hour train ride. We then tried to catch up to the others who had arrived earlier, eating what remained of cold New England pizza, drinking beer until the bar ran out and switching to Scotch in time for a campfire roast. Before the night was over, I was proclaiming from the fireside absolute truths that would be forgotten by morning.
Saturday morning. I was pleased to wake up in my room with my contacts out, jewelry off and pajamas on, autopilot having kicked in. I barely made it in time for breakfast where I heard tales of other friends, including the groom vomiting. The wedding was later in the day, so I set off to find the groom to see how he was doing. Boy looked a bit green and just needed to finish a few things before he could get a beer to settle himself down. I helped him arrange the placecards and configure the tables to correspond with the proper numbers and Boy earned himself a beer. Once again I neglected to take a nap or eat much after breakfast, instead acting as ad hoc photographer’s assistant and helping the bride touch up her makeup and pee before the ceremony.
The ceremony and dinner went off without a hitch, and we moved on to the reception. Open bar until 1 am. Dance mix made by the master of dance mixes, Mike D. The whole fam in attendance. Wedding rings flashing. Shoes offing. Beer spilling all over my friend’s hair. Shots abounding [blessedly, I was able to pass mine to Boy without anyone noticing]. My god, the meta Photoboothing.
Sunday morning. I woke up with my contacts still in, dress and jewelry on. No evidence of mud anywhere, and it was pouring the previous night. Once again, I went to breakfast where I heard tales of other friends, including the groom vomiting [again]. Wife making out with a girl. Husband making out with a boy. Falling over trying to pee. Sleeping on a bench. Carl-wrestling. Everyone except for pregs was either hungover or still drunk. This time I went back to sleep after breakfast and awoke to a knock at my door and a mystery solved: not wanting me to walk through the mud, a friend had given me a piggyback ride to my room. He was still drunk at the time of telling, around noon.
I remember being able to close down bars and still be able to function at work the next day. Now I look forward to going straight home after work to go to the gym. That doesn’t always work out as planned, like when I waited up with a friend at a hospital after her mother’s surgery had complications. I felt hungover the next day – foggy and drained, even having to ask my boss to get on the phone with me to discuss a trade with a broker because I was incapable of expressing myself clearly. But I don’t miss staying up late on school nights. Would selfish 20-somethings have carried a friend through the mud or even debated how far they should go to help a friend pee [unzipping pants = yes; pulling it out = no]? I’m sure we would like to think so but can’t be sure. Being too old for some things at least means we’re old enough to do right, even if we might not remember until later if at all.
Also, I drink scotch now. My father is so proud.