Some people are angry drunks. Others are happy drunks. Still others are sloppy, horny, dancey, or in Big Ben’s case, rapey drunks. I can’t be categorized into any of these…categories. No, I am an uncoordinated drunk. When I have just a couple drinks, I lose all sense of balance and dexterity and thus slip, fumble and spill more than most three-year olds. Granted, I’m not the most coordinated person in the world sober, but my drunk alter ego (worst. superhero. ever.) may be the least. As a result, I’ve fallen more times in my life than most Hollywood stuntmen. However, that being said I’ve never broken a bone, never needed stitches, nothing. I’ve actually become quite adroit when it comes to biting it, so much so that I can and do list it as a skill on my resume.
We set sail for The Preakness at 8:30 Saturday morning, as our group of about two dozen anxiously piled onto the school buses leaving Mad River in Fed Hill. We didn’t really know what was in store for the day, as the rules for the infield had changed dramatically since we’d last attended two years ago. In the past, the Preakness infield had resembled Thomas Hobbes’ State of Nature, sans the Social Contract; anarchic, primitive and savage affairs that feature tens of thousands of revelers caged together in a drunken refugee camp. Last time I attended, I saw more brawls, beer-can induced injuries, boobs and bodily fluids than I thought possible over the course of ten hours. It’s like Sodom and Gomorrah with horses and Black-Eyed Susans. It was something that had to be experienced to be believed, a day in which thousands of words and stories can do no justice unless you were there.
Last year, however, the good folks at Pimlico put the kibosh on the BYOB policy, and thus much of the raging and unsurprisingly, attendance plummeted. Because Pimlico is on the brink of bankruptcy and is selling off assets like fucking OJ, they had to make a compromise this year: They provide the booze at a reasonable $20 all you can drink, and hopefully strike a chord between attendees getting appropriately plastered but not dying. And I gotta tell ya, they did a pretty damn good job. Preakness 2.0 didn’t have the traditional running of the porta-potties nor the beer cans being tossed like mortar shells, and the Youtube-worthy moments dropped by about 70%, but it was nevertheless an outstanding all-day festival of weirdness.
Now, I’m currently on the tail end of a three-month hiatus from drinking, but had circled Preakness as an exception to the sobriety. Looking back, picking a twelve-hour outdoor bender as one of the first times to drink in months was a horrendous lapse in judgment on my part. Over the past few months my tolerance has apparently sunk to 14-year old girl status, which means I should would have been toasted off of four Mike’s Hard Lemonades (they’re deceptively strong, I swear!). Instead, I foolishly approached the day with a Lohan-esque drunken zeal and ended up far, far more intoxicated at 11am than anyone on Earth should ever be. The rest of my day more or less consisted of talking to strangers, getting sunburned, and sleeping on the grass while getting sunburned. Awesome. I am a jackass.
After the big race had finished, I wandered the grounds trying to find out if I won my bets (I didn’t, obviously) until I realized it was 6:55 and the bus home was leaving at 7. I didn’t even know where the bus was leaving from, which caused a bit of a problem as I ran around the infield trying to figure out how to get out of that god-forsaken wasteland. By 7:10 I had pretty much given up and resigned myself to sleeping in a horse trailer for the night, when suddenly I stumbled out of the gate and saw a bus packed with my friends pulling out of the parking lot. GO TIME. With everyone on the bus watching, I took off in a full sprint. In my head, I was Usain Bolt. To everyone else I probably looked like Kevin James twenty miles into a marathon..only sweatier. As I was closing in on the bus, my old drunken calling card kicked in. I tripped over my foot, or a rock, or nothing at all who knows, and went flying about five feet forward before landing like a pile of rocks onto…a pile of rocks. Hands cut up, knees bleeding, shirt covered in god-knows what. But, thanks to my years of falling experience, I immediately hopped up, continued my sprint, and made it onto the bus just before it got on the parkway. I returned home, bloodied, burned and beaten- a shadow of the man I was twelve hours prior. Thankfully, I’m back to sobriety for a for more weeks, which should give my wounds just enough time to heal over before I inevitably fall down some steps or get by hit by a car in a new display of ineptitude. As for the Preakness, I treat it like I treat Christmas- loved the day, I’m broke, exhausted and hungover afterward, but can’t wait to do it again next year.