None of us wanted to believe it. We all said it might have been true for them, but that was them, and we are us, and we are f*cking invincible!
In college, we would drink till 5 am, wake up for class the next day at 8 am, go to the gym at noon and be back at the bar in time for happy hour, to do it all over again.
Hangovers were only something that happened when you mixed too many liquors, and/or drugs together. On the rare occasion we had one, it was nothing Tylenol and a cold beer couldn't erase.
Then it started to happen, slowly at first, but every once in a while after about 24, those hangovers would just, stick around. Not all day, and not long enough to do any real damage, but more than before. This was different; this was almost, human.
Now at almost 27 years old, a "bad" hangover for me is just when I wake up from drinking period, but a terrible hangover can put me out of commission for a few days time.
I experienced one such hangover after a night of drunken debauchery on the eve of 2015, and finally I had to stop denying it to myself: I am no longer immortal.
I have found my kryptonite, and it is the same thing that used to be my super power. So, these are the 21 reasons I don't (can't) drink like I'm 21 anymore:
When you're in college, everything is two for one, or $10 all-you-can-drink. When you grow up, face reality and decide you can't spend all your time on sticky floors anymore, you realize drinks in the real world add up.
For $10 on Wednesday nights in college, I could get bombed like Hiroshima. To do that in a nice bar or club as an "adult," I would need a second mortgage.
20. Less Friends
Though we all will have those friends who will party like they're 18 forever, as you grow older, it becomes a lot harder to find someone who will start drinking margaritas with you at 3 pm on a Tuesday. Now, your friends have things like "a mortgage" and "a job" and "three kids."
19. Deja Vu
If you are like me, then you know when you go out with your drinking buddies, it's usually a fairly similar pattern.
While being a regular is great when you're in your early 20s, and usually leads to awesome perks like free shots, better service, etc., at some point, you realize, "Oh, sh*t, I don't just drink here, I'm a regular here."
Well, that might not be such a bad thing when you're 65 and retired, but for me, it's a little to early to start playing Norm from "Cheers." (Where everybody knows your name...)
18. One-Night Stands
In college, pretty much everyone was on the same page. We got drunk; things happened -- let's not make a big deal out of this.
The most awkward thing about a one-night stand back then was the walk across campus and maybe running into that person in biology class.
Now, we're older, we drink with our friends and coworkers, and a one-night stand could turn into the worst office weirdness ever, or worse, one of those "relationships" I keep hearing about.
17. Everyone Looks So Young
At this point in my life, especially while traveling, I have no idea how old girls are when I meet them at a bar. In college, it didn't matter because everyone was within four years of eachother.
Now, as I'm about to turn 27, I realize I'm a decade older than some of these girls. While that may seem awesome, in reality, 18-year-olds are pretty worthless people when it comes to anything but drinking and looking good.
16. Drunk Facebook Pics
In college, it was a badge of honor to have a great night out, and later have to look back. We would anxiously wait until someone posted photos to piece the night together, "Oh, ya, I remember that guy in the full bear costume!"
Now, for a lot of my friends, Facebook can be a nightmare in the professional world. Employers are using companies to search people's history and find out anything ill-suiting about them.
It's one thing if they have to dig back six years in your archive, it's another if they find photos of you doing bong rips and shotgunning from last week.
15. Picking Up Chicks
You'll never know the awesome conversation-starting power of, "What's your major?" until you're no longer in college anymore. It was the ultimate "in" move -- so many directions to take, so many laughs to be had, so many chances to take some freshman home.
Now, I'm forced to ask things like, "Oh, how do you like the gas mileage on your Prius?" and "Do you prefer Whole Foods or Trader Joes?" I'm about this close to going back and getting my master's degree just so I can have a good opener again.
14. Grownups Go To Jail
In college and your early 20s, it seems like you're pretty invincible, even when it comes to the police. I remember I got a few citations in school -- drunk in public, fake ID, etc. -- but none of these ever led to any "real" consequences.
At worst, it was just a ticket you'd have to work a few extra shifts at Subway to pay off. But, as I've grown older, I realize I can't get away with that sh*t anymore.
No longer will cops try not to "ruin" your future and give you a break. You're in the future now, bro, and if you get caught peeing on the side of a building, congrats; you're a sex offender now.
13. Uber Receipts
Give me a second to explain this one. Responsibility is awesome, and I, like most of my friends in college, got away with a lot of times when I shouldn't have been behind the wheel of a car.
Now, I'm older and wiser, and I know drunk driving is a huge no-no! That being said, there's something kind of depressing about seeing 10 different Uber receipts on your bank statement every Monday morning after a long weekend.
Though, let's be honest: Who's taking a taxi? Not this guy!
12. Making Conversation
There's something magical about being in a loud college bar and eventually ending up taking another coed home.
The magical part is, within the typical college bar, you can't hear a goddamn thing. So, basically, you have to communicate through yelling, hand signals and lots of shouting, "Shots?" This doesn't work as you get older.
If I go out with my friends now, we try to intentionally find a place where the music isn't too loud, so we can converse and enjoy each other's company. This is great for catching up with friends, but not so great for picking up chicks when you have no material (see number 15).
11. Being a Grandpa
Before I left for my trip, I went to a tailgate at my Alma Mater. It was great seeing old friends and supporting my beloved Knights, but I immediately noticed something different.
When we were pregamming to go to the tailgate, we stopped by one of our old stomping grounds.
At this point, I had only been out of school for three years, but it might as well have been three decades! Everyone was a baby, and I found myself concerned for young girls and their attire. What would her father think?
Point being, if you wanna feel real old, real fast, get some of your old college buddies and go back to your favorite college bar. It will age you.
10. Appreciation of Booze
When I was 18, I couldn't tell you the difference between Mr. Boston and 15-year-old Balvenie. But, as you get older, you start to appreciate things about good booze that were never of importance before.
I now know the difference between a good beer and a sh*t beer and the same with liquor. And, though, sometimes, it seems to be to my detriment, I know spirits are meant to be enjoyed, not dropped into Red Bull.
9. I Hate Dancing
I was never a good dancer to begin with, but when I was going to school, it was pretty simple: Wait until a rap song came on, grab a cute girl by the waist (if she turns around and gives you the nod, you're in), and basically stand there sweating and moving your hips back and forth until it's time to get a drink.
Grinding may have been mostly associated with hip-hop, but it was DEFINITELY invented by a white guy. That being the extent of my "dance experience," I'm pretty ill-equipped to hit the dance floor these days.
8. "Come at me, Brah!"
I've always been more of a lover than a fighter, but after eight Jager bombs and a few dozen cheap beers, we all had our moments of "bro-ing" out back in our prime.
Back then, it didn't matter; a few bruises and a ripped shirt were usually the worst you had to worry about.
Now, the idea of fighting scares me for two reasons: If I were to get in a fight and beat someones ass, I would most likely be on the wrong end of an assault suit within a month, and more importantly, I really, really don't like being punched.
Odds are, now, I would be the one receiving the majority of the blows.
7. Drunk Texting
If you ask my exes, you would get the consensus I am a notorious drunk texter.
Me: "I miss you, baby." Ex #1: "We haven't talked in six months, dumbass..."
Me: "I've been thinking about you." Ex #2: "I haven't..."
I think two examples is enough. That's all well and good when you're 19 and you can laugh it off the next day. But, in this world of constant updates, marriages, babies and more babies, you have to be careful which ex you're texting.
She might not only be taken, but also married with a bun in the oven, and she definitely doesn't want to come over and "snuggle."
6. Getting Up For Things
When you're a "grownup" -- I'm using that term very loosely, here -- you finally start to come to the reality that spending all day in bed drinking Gatorade and watching Netflix is no longer "acceptable."
I've been in hospitality for a LONG time, so it's not exactly like I have a load of responsibilities to consider, but at some point, waking up past noon every day starts to take its toll on your mental state.
This was okay when I was 20 and missing a film class, but sh*t, my best friend has kids now, and I'm pushing 30. The occasional all-day recovery is fine, but at some point, we all want to grow up a little, and there's no way to do that when you sleep until 3.
5. I Don't Have "Connections" Anymore
When I was 18 to 22, I didn't wait in line for ANYTHING. I knew someone everywhere, whether it was a brother in my fraternity, someone I worked with or even some chick I hooked up with every once in a while.
Now, I stand in line. Occasionally, I'll know someone somewhere, but now we're older; that person is a manager, probably won't text me back when I'm at the door and is too busy to get me in, anyway.
I now live the life of paying covers and waiting 30 minutes for a drink, just like the rest of you. Times have changed, and the only way to get some attention is with money -- money talks. Unfortunately, my wallet is mute at the moment.
4. Gym Time
I went to UCF in Orlando, FL. There's a reason our student body got voted one of the sexiest every single year. Aside from living in a state that has year-round sunshine and the perfect excuse for women to wear bikinis everywhere, when I was at school, we had "The Gym."
Now, I know some schools have great rec/wellness centers, but UCF's was next-level (and it got even better after I left).
It's something like 60,000 square feet of pure iron-pumping, cardio-pounding madness. It's the perfect place to burn off a long night out, and in school, I could easily spend two to three hours a day there.
Now, it's a hassle to get to the gym; it's expensive, and the facilities aren't nearly as nice. But, whereas, before, it was a kind of escape, now it's a necessity.
The first thing you start noticing about your friends after college is who lets themselves go. I may not be the most successful; I may not have the most money, but I, for damn sure, am not showing up to my 10-year college reunion with a beer gut.
Unfortunately, what that means is less beer.
3. I NEED Sleep
When you're young, sleep is for old people; it's something you do after cramming for exams for three days straight on a Red Bull and Adderall-fueled bender. Drinking heavily, however, tends to, let's say, "affect" your sleep patterns as you get older.
When I was in school, it was nothing to stay up till 5 am, sleep a few hours and then get right back up for class that morning. Now, if I don't get my eight hours, I'm basically just a walking zombie. I
never understood how important a great night's sleep was until I finally got one.
After years of sleeping on futons and air mattresses (that's not a joke -- I spent the majority of college on an air mattress), I finally understand what a real mattress is. I've learned it doesn't matter how good the mattress is; going on a bender seems to throw a wrench in my sheep counting.
2. Chugs not Drugs
Maybe it's just me being surrounded by teenage backpackers like I am, being overseas at the moment. Maybe I just wasn't into the scene when I was in my early 20s, anyway, but it seems like not many people just drink and get smashed anymore.
It seems like everyone I meet now is on something. I have no problem with recreational drug use, and I think it's totally fine if these guys partake wisely, but it definitely creates a different kind of "party."
For one, if you don't like jumping around listening to sh*t EDM until 8 am, you will find yourself in a very awkward position when you're at some of the clubs these "crazy kids" are going to.
Maybe it's just how my friends and I partied in school, but I don't think anyone should party past 3 am. The way we did it was start at 10, drink aggressively for four to five hours, go home and try again.
Call me old-fashioned, but you can keep your MDMA and your nose candy. I'll take shots and long necks every time.
1. Hangovers -- Dear, Sweet, Merciful Jesus... HANGOVERS!!
We all have them; we all hate them: the "ya, I don't really get hangovers" friend.
If you had distaste for them when you were younger, you now loathe them from the core of your being. Because, if you are like me, once upon a time, you were bullet-proof, and now, you're target practice.
When you first start to notice your hangovers getting worse, you can try to play it off like nothing is wrong -- "you probably just drank too many house whiskeys last night."
But, then, they start to creep in, no matter what you drink, and soon, it's not a matter of "if" you'll have a hangover, but simply, how bad will it be. I had my come-to-Jesus with the hangover gods on the first of January 2015.
It was eye-opening, mostly because I could barely open my eyes. I had apparently run a drunk marathon the night before, and every muscle in my body was spasming and wretched (seriously, I physically was running all over town).
It was then, finally, I learned that no longer am I the Superman I once fancied myself to be, but rather, more like the human counterpart, Clark Kent. I have found my kryptonite in the bottom of a bottle, and now I realize, I am invincible no more.
So, now, I will be a grownup, have two drinks with dinner, no shots and go to bed at a reasonable hour.
We may not be invincible anymore, but the one thing I know for sure is you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I may be 50 one day, with two kids of my own and a grandson on the way (that means I'd have to start, like, tomorrow, though), but when I see my old buddies, all bets are off.
I think the main thing I've learned, as I've come to terms with becoming human, is you've just got to save your big nights for special occasions (weddings, birthdays, divorces, etc.). There's nothing wrong with being wounded for a few days, as long as it's not an everyday thing anymore.
From now on, as I journey into my late 20s practically ready for retirement, I will live by the Tobey Keith motto:
May not be good as I once was, but I'm as good once, as I ever was.
Preach brother Tobey, preach!