Monday, May 20, 2013

Just a Redirect to My Latest Post.

No real post here today because it's over at my good friend Aaron's blog. I wrote a post for his weekly Guest Blog Monday feature. Check it out here. And have a good day!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Just a Story About a Boat...and Some Sentimentality.

It’s sometimes interesting what you remember well and what becomes less vivid over time. In 2006 I went on a cruise with my family that took us around the Caribbean. I was 17 and not old enough to drink, gamble, or do any of those “adult” things. Being that age is tough on a cruise, because even though it had plenty of activities for kids, I wanted to do the “adult” things. At that time I didn’t even care about getting drunk – I just wanted to go sit with a beer in the bar and watch the bands play. I know – weird. But I had never seen so much music in one place before!
As for those activities for kids, they had a sort of “kids club” that we could go hang out at and that had daily games and stuff, but the problem with being 17 and on the upper end of that age range is that you had to accept the idea that the program had to be designed to accommodate both my age group and kids as young as 12 or 13, and as most people know, those 4-5 years make a huge difference. My younger sister, an innocent 14-year-old at the time, was also hanging out there and her presence always made the hair on the back of my neck stand up because I knew she was watching me just as much as I was watching her, though it was less protective and more aspirational (at the time).
I met an interesting group of people on that boat, and each would go on to make a lasting memory that still lives with me today.
Alcohol can make you creepy. My best friend on the boat was Eric. He and I hung out pretty much every day of the cruise. I don’t remember what we bonded over, but there was definitely an instant connection. One night I couldn't find him for a while, which wasn't a big deal – there was a lot going on that night. But while exploring later I found a group of teenagers drinking, and in the center of the group was Eric holding a bottle of vodka. He told me he had taken a swig and not felt anything, so he had chugged half the bottle. He was very drunk now, and was attempting to hit on some blonde who was clearly not having any of it. I had flirted with girls before, but I had never really witnessed someone (or myself) actively hitting on them. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, especially since the girl was not into what Eric was selling. I ended up having to walk Eric back to his room because he was too drunk to know where he was on the boat (first time babysitting a drunk person, but definitely not my last).
At one point we were exiting the elevator and I got held up by Drunken Duncan (I’ll come to him later) for a moment, only to realize that Eric had wandered off to a group of girls who we’d seen on the boat before – the kind of 12-year-olds who wear excess makeup to make themselves look older. Not realizing their age in his inebriated state, he tried his drunken charms on them before I could stop him, and when I came out of the elevator and saw them running away, I knew we were in trouble. I tried to steer him back to his room, but we were accosted in the hallway by the girls’ mother who was quite angry at my good friend. After explaining that I was taking care of him, and receiving another verbal warning from her, we kept going. After a ring-and-run incident where I ended up getting caught (though with no ramifications) because I lingered too long and the guy came out, we finally made it back to his room. We rehearsed what he would say to get past his parents and how he could avoid getting caught, and then I let him go.
The next day I found him after dinner and he told me he had almost made it, but then when he’d tried to urinate before going to bed, he’d ended up vomiting all over the bathroom. He was genuinely sorry for putting me through everything that had happened, but I was just glad he was okay.
Alcohol can also isolate you. Drunken Duncan was a man who I only saw a few times that week, but he always had alcohol in his hand. He was a vodka guy. The night I walked Eric back to his room, Duncan was in the elevator we rode in. Always stumbling. And always alone.
Nowadays when I drink, I always enjoy myself and I do hit on women (when I’m single). However, I’m always on the lookout for my own creepiness, always trying to gauge a woman’s responses, and I work hard to make sure that if she doesn’t look like she’s into it, I leave her alone. And I always remember that I don’t want to get so drunk so often that I become the drunken loner.
British accents are incredibly attractive. I met two British girls close to the end of the cruise. It was one of those random nights when I wandered the boat late at night and among other people my age, I discovered this pair. I think there was another guy there too, but I certainly wasn't paying attention to him. We talked about future education plans, music, adventures on the boat (theirs had been crazier than mine), and plenty of other stuff. That was the first time I’d realized that anyone besides me knew of the boy band Five. Obviously Five had a solid fan base back in the day, but I only knew their cover of “We Will Rock You” and their single “Slam Dunk (Da Funk)” from a Disney channel movie. And no one else I knew had heard of them until these two. I don’t remember the girls’ names, nor do I even remember what they look like…all I remember is the sound of their voices and being overwhelmed at my first dose of mysterious foreigner passion. I still think of them every time I watch Kate Beckinsale or Keira Knightley.
If you’re dancing on a girl and your sister sees you, you’re gonna have a bad time. No real explanation here…it was just awkward locking eyes with my sister across the room when I was grinding on a girl at a dance party.
Girl drummers are hot. ‘Nuff said. I still wish I’d listened to my parents and auditioned for the cruise’s customer talent show so I could’ve shown her (the ship’s house band drummer) my chops.

If you ask me where any of these people are today...I couldn't tell you. Eric and I were friends on MySpace for a time, but I got rid of that account years ago, and thus eliminated my one connection to any of these people. So why did I tell this story? I think whenever I come to a point in my life where I have to leave people behind or separate myself from friends, I think of this adventure. Because even though I never talk to those people anymore, it's been 7 years and I haven't forgotten them. And I was only with them for a week.
To all the people with whom I went through undergrad who have graduated and moved on, and especially now to my friends in medical school who are all currently going underground, just as I am, to study hard for our USMLE Step 1 exam and then off on separate roads through third- and fourth-year rotations...I won't forget you. Even if we don't talk for a while...I look forward to whenever you come back into my life, because you've definitely got a place in my head. Even if it's just a drunken babysitting night, an awkward moment, or a fun accent. Cue the Phil Collins.