There are several kinds of annoying student drunks. The emotional one; the exhibitionist; the loud, obnoxious ‘this one time…’ kid; the determined-to-get-some-tonight drunk; the aggressor; the bailer (‘but I’ve got a 9am tomorrow’ – pfft); the drunk that loses everything; and the way-too-drunk drunk, amongst others. We’ve all experienced the quality of a night out compromised by one of these dickheads. Chances are, you’ve been one of these dickheads. Much to my shame, I can recall having personified a disconcerting six of those characters on a number of occasions. Sorry, friends, by the way.
The one persona I embody most frequently, when inebriated, however, is that of the runner. It has becoming increasingly evident that I seem to have a very strong predilection for alcohol-fuelled spontaneous athletics. Customarily, this tendency is realised by snap decisions to sprint – and I mean sprint – to the bus stop, to the club, or towards familiar faces, though it does, on occasion, manifest as an outcome of slightly more calculated decisions made in the interests of thrift, like literally jogging all the way home from the centre of town so as to save on bus or taxi fare, for example.
The runner is not to be equated with the wandering drunkard, that is, the rambler whose constant straying from the group often sees a night out turning into the wrong kind of party – a search party. Wandering drunks are of the same ilk as the above-mentioned cryer, exhibitionist, and horny drunk: those whose defining characteristics are rooted in an unrelenting desire for attention and/or a compulsion to make the night all about them. Us runners usually have no such intentions. It’s hard to put into words the pure catharsis that comes with the impulsive, almost involuntary act of bolting at light speed towards an often-arbitrary target, but this euphoric release is our motivation. Crucially, though, the runner typically has their fun and rejoins the group soon after. Unlike the AWOL drunk, their brief and capricious exploits towards personal gratification are not normally accountable for a night’s demise. But given that what we’re talking about here is the intoxicated undertaking of physical activity that tends to demand a reasonable amount of skill and judgement, well, sometimes they are.
It’s about 3am, and my friends and I are convening outside Sticky Mike’s, waiting for the last few stragglers to emerge so we can all head home together, when someone proposes we get chips. At this point we might want to add to our earlier list of drunk selves the renowned ‘AND NOW WE EAT’ drunk. No sooner had I processed the word ‘chips’ than I was hurtling towards the culinary haven on the seafront that my friends and I have come to refer to as the ‘chip hut’, (if you’re unfamiliar with it, can I politely suggest you re-evaluate your life). However you take them, be it cheesy, doused in ketchup/mayo, or pure and simple with a dash of salt (my preference – they require nothing more), chip hut chips are simply unparalleled. Their warm doughnuts are pretty spectacular as well.
So my explosive running was by no means unjustified. Hurtling along the seafront with the wind in my hair and no fucks to give, the euphoria I was talking about earlier, not to mention the prospect of tucking into a portion of the best chips in town – well, what a feeling. Of course it was over only too soon. I’m not sure if what I actually tripped over was anything other than my own legs, but I very quickly lost my footing and slammed face-first into the road. As well as a gammy ankle and assorted grazes and bruises on my arms and legs, the whole left side of my face was completely battered, though the crowning accomplishment has to be the loss of a sizeable chunk of my front tooth. I basically bit the tarmac. Shamefully, the ensuing hysterics would see me fulfil the role of needy, crying drunk for the rest of the night.
Countless double-takes, a hasty dental procedure, and much retrospective jocosity
later, I vow to make efforts to curb my drunken habit. But when I soon after come across an old pair of jeans with a sizeable rip in the knee, I am promptly reminded of not one, but several dishearteningly similar incidents (minus the tooth trauma, fortunately), and I query whether drunk me is actually capable of effecting this resolution. I chortle when a voice in my head proposes ‘Just don’t drink so much!’ and proceed to rationalize the whole saga on the grounds that my impetuous sprints, be they often so quickly halted, nonetheless do something to make up for all the running I definitely don’t do when sober.