Catastrophic humiliation is not something that you plan. It's one of those things that just happen, much like a car accident or the conception of your sibling(s). When it strikes, it does so with a fury and at the most inopportune moment possible, leaving the victim bewildered, embarrassed and fully-dressed on the couch with a spaghetti pot barf-bag on the floor next to him. Generally speaking.
It was due to this elusive nature of humiliation that I did not see the potential threat in my first invitation to a classy New York City benefit. In retrospect, I may also have been blinded with excitement at the prospect of attending this celebrity fund-raising auction, which was hosted by my employer, FHM Magazine, along with Mets pitcher Kris Benson and his aesthetically charming wife Anna. With industry insiders, celebrities and athletes bound to be in attendance, it was the perfect opportunity to take yet another step toward world dominance by making a good impression. And so, I made a good impression. In the side of a Lincoln Continental.
Now, I'll willingly take full responsibility for this meltdown. I always hold myself accountable for the various mishaps that define my life, and this case is no different. My accounting skills simply failed me. For one, I did not account for the fact that I did not have dinner, or likely much of a lunch, when I started double-fisting Red Bull and vodkas. Nor did I properly account for just how much alcohol there is in a "'cherry martini' or how fast I would drink said martinis. Shortly thereafter my winds of fortune took a noticeably southbound turn and I found myself in all sorts of uncharted territory. As it turns out, one can't expect to stumble around the dance floor and throw up in the bathroom of an upscale lounge without drawing the attention of, say, everyone present, no matter how hard the bathroom attendant tries to cover up the smell with cologne. Reportedly, at least; I have no account of that detail.
Some of the blame certainly lies with my uncanny ability to spew whenever I've consumed more than a pen cap's worth of liquor. In some ways, it's nice: rarely do I deal with hangovers or die. But other times when around celebrities in formalwear, for instance it's a less-than-desirable superpower. At department stores, it's perfectly fine to return a product that you purchased. At bars, that's not quite the case.
The real problem, however, is that this was the first open bar event I've been to since moving to Manhattan. Subsequently I've never had the opportunity to change my perspective on such massacres. In college, open bars were viewed as voluntary bloodlettings, with puking, property damage and gross personal injury all being considered negligible occupational hazards. This, as I just learned, is not apropos as an "adult," and I'm indescribably thrilled that I could receive this enlightenment at a celebrity benefit thrown by my employer.
And so, after waking up in a stupor the next morning still fully clothed, on the couch, without my shoes and / or memory I immediately went into "'damage control' mode. Dignity, which has never been a close associate of mine, quickly ebbed away with every subsequent phone call to one of the eight or so friends that had accompanied me to / carried me home from the benefit. Each person I spoke to seemed to add additional details to the artist's rendering of my villainous evening. Just when I thought that I had heard the worst of the sidewalk spew-and-stumble stories the bathroom attendant incident was probably the leading candidate at that point it was revealed that I later collapsed against the side of a parked car and crumpled to the ground. While all this was taking place, I'm almost positive that Mom was writhing in agony back home, as though my self-respect is her voodoo doll.
Yet, as poorly as these episodes boded for every aspect of my life, initial reports looked promising: people were amused and concerned, but as one of my editors put it, I "did nothing to offend others, implicate myself or get myself fired." On the other hand, that any of those outcomes existed probably should've dictated my approach to the night. Instead the night served as one of the many necessary "'learning experiences' in my reluctant maturation process. Yeah, I learned a very valuable lesson that night.
And somewhere, there's a Lincoln imprinted with my face to prove it.