Growing up (Sort Of)
My baby brother recently turned the big 1-8. I’m pretty sure I was more excited than he was, as I’d been anticipating the night I could go out and party with him for years.
We started at a friend’s place to get a buzz on before heading out – obviously our broke student asses couldn’t afford copious amounts of booze at bars. He was already pretty tipsy when he got there, having spent the afternoon at the pub. I was keeping an eye on him, as any older sibling does. I didn’t want him to repeat the drunken blur that was my 18th birthday: a hotel room in the city, too much tequila, getting kicked out of the bar for pissing my pants, lots of hungover regret – the usual.
When we were feeling satisfactorily buzzed, we called a maxi and made the long-awaited trip into town. My brother was pretty drunk, but still conscious. He wasn’t much of a drinker, and I’d only seen him drunk a handful of times, so I knew he wouldn’t have much of a tolerance.
Our first stop was this newly opened club that was offering free drinks to girls that night. So the girls all shared the love and grabbed enough free booze for everyone. That’s when I first realised the young’un wasn’t in a great place. Turns out right before we left, he’d downed half a bottle of rum so that he wouldn’t have to buy drinks out. In truth, I was a little bit proud.
He’s always been a dancer, and took to the empty dance floor with an unbridled enthusiasm. Somehow, his dancing still managed to be impressive, but he did bite the dirt a couple of times. We grabbed him some water and tried to ween him off the poison. But when he fell under a table, tried to stand up, hit his head and fell back down, I knew we had a problem. No amount of water was going to sober this dickhead up. But being drunkenly hopeful and maybe a bit ignorant, we headed to my favourite bar.
I watched as he walked a zigzag line to the bouncer and knew there was no point even trying to counter his refusal. So we sat out the front for a bit, waiting for him to sober up. You know that saying, “lights are on, but nobody’s home”? I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I saw someone that drunk. I left for a moment to chat to a friend, and return to see vomit painted along the side of the bin, and on his shirt of course. “I feel better though!” he told me.
He eventually ended up getting into some other bars, and his mates insisted we check out a strip club. Let me tell you something, it’s a weird thing to watch your little brother get a lap dance. All in all, it wasn’t a bad night.
But when I got back home to my warm bed, I realised that part of my life was over. The stage of getting so blind drunk you can’t even get into the club. And I was a little bit sad, because that’s how I spent every weekend the year I turned 18.
Now, though, going out is infinitely better. Maybe I’ve found my limit or maybe I’ve just mastered the act of looking more sober than I actually am. Either way, I feel like I’m growing up a bit. And not in the depressing way my friends are – getting engaged and getting mortgages – but in the happy way of realising there are bigger and better things ahead of me. So thanks little bro, for helping me realise there are good things to come, and sorry you felt so shit the next day.
Cover by Michelle Fleming