I should have told the kid he had the right to remain silent; that he was only going to make his predicament worse if he kept talking. Just shut up. Listen. Don’t say a word. But personal experience has taught me that when alcohol and interpersonal relationships are at play, reason takes a long meandering holiday.
Besides, to be embarrassingly frank, watching the slow motion train wreck amused me. My big mouth and I have been where he was. Why should I help get this young buck out of hot water?
So when the boy (aren’t they all boys when you’re over 30 and they are in their 20s?) tried to explain to his girlfriend that he hadn’t actually called her a drunk so much as suggested that maybe she’d reached her limit, I knew he’d have hell to pay.
For the record, the kid didn’t appear to be drinking. His clear glass had a translucent liquid and ice in it with a lemon twist on the rim. Plus he looked woefully bored and unamused by the antics of his companion and their friends.
The “lady,” on the other hand, was behaving as if she was the mayor and sole resident of Margaritaville. She wasn’t a mean drunk. Or clumsy. Or sloppy. Her volume knob was merely broken at 12. And when she laughed the windows rattled, dogs howled and everyone at the barbecue turned to catch a glimpse of the hyena that had escaped from the zoo.
She was a fun girl. As long as you weren’t driving her home or required to answer her questions.
“Am I embarrassing you?”
Of course his correct answer was not a yes. Honesty may be the best policy in grade school, but it doesn’t save you from an icy glare and cold shoulder when your interest has turned from video games to the opposite sex.
Nor was the correct answer no. If his betrothed wasn’t embarrassing then why was he telling her to calm down and not be so loud? Why wasn’t he letting her have any fun? These were all questions she’d ask because her sisters before her had asked them of other men through the ages.
A good answer would have been a shuffling sidestep — the kind you get from a politician on the campaign trail.
“What is there to be embarrassed about? Your enthusiasm for staying hydrated and having fun in the process is unrivaled.” (Though the best answer would have been to stay quiet and pretend to have not heard the question.)
But the kid made a rookie mistake and said yes, though he tried to soften it with “just a little.”
It was an error that, in all likelihood, the kid won’t make again, judging from the way she rolled her eyes and turned on her heels.
Had I been a better man I would have warned him. But some lessons a young man has to learn on his own.