Duck Has His 21st Birthday

April 9, the early 1980ís.

A day that will live in infamy.

Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but what the heck. I was young and stupid. No, not young and foolish, I mean young and DIRT STUPID.

I had just turned 21 and was a junior at the
University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana.

Of course, being in a large midwestern university, you would probably expect by that time I would be fairly well jaded, have experimented with risky behaviors and various substances. BUT being 21 was a big deal. You could drink legally, but even so, underage drinking on campus was about as common as wearing underwear (your own, hopefully). It was still reason to celebrate, yet even if the only big thing was that you could get a free drink at every bar in campus on your 21st birthday.

But, my birthday occurred on a Saturday night, all the usually regulars in my dorm (yeah, I lived in a dorm, like a good little geek) had already burnt themselves out the night before as was the typical ritual. My roommate, Rich, decided to accompany me to help celebrate, if not provide comic relief as the "straight man" of us two wandering geeks.

First stop, Kam's, the "usual" frat-rat/sorority-b*tch hangout. After a "free" round for me and a
Manhattan for Rich, we soon migrated our way through subsequent campus bars.

Two stops later, just down the block from Kam's was "Tritos Pizza", of whom the assistant maanger happened to also sit next to me in the Tuba section of the University of Illinois First Concert Band. This places sells french-fries by the pound. After a few too many beers and a pound of french fries, I proceeded, redecorate the men's room. Grease and alcohol don't mix. After thanking my "tuba friend" for the free fries (and not telling him why the men's room floor is now a different color), we headed off...

(By the way, the "Tritos Pizza" is now a Starbucks....sigh....)

Back to our story.

Five bars later, we made our way into yet another bar for another free round for me, but shared a table with several enlisted personnel from Chanute Air Force base, just up the road from
Champaign. After receiving my "free" round, I received a few more "freebies" from them as Rich proceeded to nurse his fourth Manhattan of the evening. There was only ONE female in the group and I started to get very friendly with her. But because of my alcohol-altered vision and judgment, it made no difference to me, but Rich was amused. Let's just say the "beer goggles" were at their strongest setting. She was a little north of "coyote ugly", but well south of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Let's also just say the beer goggles probably took off 40 pounds. We danced, and everyone was amused, mostly because I looked like Jim Carrey consuming half the entries of the Physician's Desk Reference in one sitting.

We soon left, I thanked her for the dance, thanked the guys from Chanute for the free beers, and thanked Rich for not making me aware of how stupid I looked.


After hitting most of the
Champaign bars, we headed east for the Urbana bars. Things get really foggy from here, as though that could really happen considering I think I was following the sidewalk by Braille. We stumbled across campus, past the Undergrad Library, across the open area south east of the Quad, in front of the Agricultural Engineering building.

In front of the Ag.E. building was a metal sculpture, donated by somebody we never heard of, standing about 20 feet tall and made out of 1/4-inch plate steel and painted yellow. I think it was to represent the futility of agriculture in a modern world, or the artist got a great deal on welding rods, I don't know which. HOWEVER, I managed to TRIP over this sculpture and put a 1/4-inch DENT IN MY RIGHT LEG. I said OUCH about 2 minutes later once I realized what I had done, Rich was already rolling on the ground laughing his @$$ off.

We pressed onward, but the evening of drunken revelry had ended soon afterward probably because I don't remember much after hitting the T-Bird Bar and crawling back to the dorm at
2AM. I do remember trying to use the dorm's "official pickup line" on several young lovelies throughout the night:

HEY! Wanna go out for a pizza and a F***!?!?! Whatsa matter, don't you like PIZZA?!?!?!

I awoke at
2PM Sunday, foggy, motionless, and in excruciating pain from tripping over that sculpture. Rich was in far better shape, he had gotten up at NOON and also was a great guy and picked up some of what I had left on the floor of our dorm room before retiring. (Don't ask...)

SO, since that night, I had never gotten ANYWHERE NEAR that drunk again. Ever. I may someday tell my Ducklings all about this adventure, but only after THEY have college-aged children of their own.

So now, I'd like to thank Rich for helping me celebrate that night 20 years ago and to thank him for keeping quiet on all the other possible things I might have done that he could blackmail me with all these years.


Copyright 2003