When I was really small, I remember once that my dad gave me a sip of his beer. Not sure what he was drinking; it came in a can, and it was probably a domestic of some sort, like Bud or PBR. It tasted very bitter, and I didn’t desire another sip.

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There’s also a picture of me at a park somewhere, sitting in the dirt next to some empty cans of beer. I don’t recall anyone being drunk in those early years, though I remember drawing pictures of Warcraft II orcs and trolls for my brother in 96, as he sat out in the front lawn after a few drinks. He asked me if I could draw something more peaceful or something, and then he threw up. I saw tomato slices in the barf; maybe he’d eaten Mexican? It didn’t distress me at all that he was throwing up, for some reason; I just thought, “Oh well, that’s what happens sometimes when you’re drunk. Also, he is my hero and I don’t care what decisions in life that he makes, he will still be my hero. I will probably also puke in the front lawn, some day.”

At some point in the next few years, I was exposed to my brothers’ friends. They were mostly in bands in the next town over (which was also where the university was, consequently). Also, they were very rowdy and silly. Mostly, they were in punk rock or ska punk bands, and their desire was probably to see how much nonsense they could get away with. Also, probably to get laid, I dunno.

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My eldest went to college with a lot of those guys, and my middle brother started hanging out with them a few years later when he moved out of the house. My eldest did his touring band thing and largely remained the same, but my middle brother changed during this period, I think. There was a much larger focus on partying and going to bars for him than there’d ever been. He gained the nickname “Robot” downtown with that crowd, and occasionally would sing some songs for these local bands.

A couple years before I turned 21, I stayed the night at a brothers’ friend’s place. This was the first night that I drank; I had at least a couple beers, maybe a shot, or maybe a mixed drink, I don’t remember for sure. I just recall my brother’s friend informing him that, yeah, I was gone. I’m not totally sure I was, but the suggestion made me act sillier than I might have, I think. Later on, I turned 21, and my sister and brother in law took me out. Some of my brothers’ friends were there, and one of them bought me an Irish car bomb, a drink that I found quite tasty. Again, the people with me thought I was far gone, but I’m not sure if I was. No, I was definitely drunk a couple weeks later with some friends; I blacked out part of the night, and the next day was my first experience with being hung over. It was not as unoffensive as I remember my brother’s hungover incident being. It kinda sucked.

After I turned 21, I would go out with my middle brother to the bars, and people would buy me drinks (which was awful nice of them. I kinda miss being 21, based on that fact.) Then we would walk across town, back to his apartment, and pass out. I have lots of memories of those walks, in January and February when it was cold, and not caring because I was drunk (just wanting to get back so I could go to sleep).

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The bar crawls felt like a rite of passage, but lacked total legitimacy, because I wasn’t buying the drinks with my own money. A brothers’ friend offered me a construction job when I was drunk once, if I called him. I never did. A couple years later when I was actually working, I was ready to buy my own cases. However, my tastes weren’t refined yet, and I would often buy a case of Miller High Life. Not sure why I chose that; my brother usually drank PBRs or something else. Eventually however, I discovered such tasty treats as Deschutes’ Jubelale and Black Butte Porter, Widmer’s Drop Top Amber, and Rogue’s Deadguy (I was very confused by the name “deadguy” the first time I was offered it; “do I want a dead guy? What? Is that some super strong beer?”)

Although I was buying my own stuff now, I was still going to my brother’s parties. On one such night, I was instructed to chug a bottle of vodka for 5 seconds, which I did. I was then instructed to chug the bottle for another 5 seconds, which I did again.

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This led to me informing my father on a video that a long-haired wig was the hair that I always wanted, and calling him a bitch in the same breath. When informed that I had just called my father a bitch, I responded that he would never see this video. That was not the only alcohol I had, and of course, we went on a bar crawl that night. Someone would set down a beer in front of me, and I would just drink it, assuming it was for me. Eventually, I woke up the next day… VERY hungover. The same elder brother friend who had instructed me to chug the vodka bought me breakfast… and I promptly threw it up. It was suggested to me that I ought to drink more to combat the hangover, but I didn’t want to do that. We went to a tailgate party for an OSU game, and at some point, an open can of beer was thrown at me by a belligerent drunk guy (an elder brother friend) because I was hungover, and my sister came and picked me up in her van. I laid in there the entire game, feeling horrible. My eldest brother happened to be down for this game, and when he saw me, he told me that I needed to “shape up.” Then, on the way to my sister’s house, we stopped so I could puke on the side of the road, and people booed me (and I sincerely don’t understand that reaction to this day… “That guy’s hungover! He already feels terrible! Let’s make him feel WORSE!”)

There was another party at some point; my brother’s 30th. He drank 30 drinks that day, in celebration. He was very gone. At one point, he had me sit down, because he wanted to have a heart to heart with me or something, but he just stared at his feet the entire time.

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I think my parents came over at some point when he was already gone. It was pretty awesome. I’m not sure if that was the night I jumped off the roof onto a trampoline; that might’ve been a different night. Someone else outdid me, holding a chair as he jumped down. That’s how hardcore we were; we jumped down off of things.

Drinking wasn’t just the providence of my brother; I would also drink with my friends, on occasion. They didn’t drink as much as I did, however; they thought I had a problem. That’s silly, though! I never lost access to beer, so how could I have a problem? Anyway, we’d have guys’ nights sometimes, and as we got further gone, some ridiculous things would be said. One dude needed to go to the park one time, and also needed to buy a Hershey’s Bar (he didn’t care about chocolate sober). There was also one night when everyone had walked to the park, but for some reason, he and I walked back to his apartment. While there, we had like two or three shots, and then he said, “One more for cleansing,” so we had one more. I repeated this to our other friends when we got back to the park, and they were like, “What does that mean?!” And it became we said, and also the title and chorus to one of my songs (consequently, when I recorded the vocals for that song, I was intoxicated).

There was this one night during the time that I lived with my friends that I bought a six pack of Jubelale, and drank the entire pack. I was supposed to go with them over to another friends’ house to sit in their jacuzzi, but I chose instead to stay behind, chat with people online, and drink all my beer. I then wandered out into the woods around our house in the middle of the night, and I almost fell into the river. When my friends came back, I told the girl that she was my sister and that I loved her, and gave her a big hug. She was super touched.

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The next morning, I didn’t remember this, and was hungover. She did not like that I didn’t remember this.

New Year’s Eve, 2010 and 2011, I got very drunk with my friends. In 2010, nobody else drank as much as me, and I was crawling underneath a table. I was also not able to finish a coherent sentence, apparently. Also, I went to the host’s computer, and tried to get on messenger so I could talk to the girl I liked. I ended up passed out on the floor in that room. Don’t think I got messenger to work. In 2011, I didn’t want to get as drunk as I had been the year before, but my friends and I decided to play the Street Fighter: The Movie drinking game… I don’t remember what my shots were taken for; I just remember that my stomach started to get upset before I was wasted, and I wanted to quit then, but everyone yelled at me, so I kept on going. Then I blacked out, and my “sister” whom I love came over when everyone wanted to go to the park, and I told her I needed to talk to her. Instead, I hovered over a nativity scene and kept apologizing to her. Then I threw up into a bowl and threw it across the room. The next day, I was too hungover to go anywhere until the evening.

As the years past and I had more unfortunate interactions with hard alcohol, I decided I didn’t like it, and that I should stick to beer. I enjoyed my ambers still, but I was moving towards IPAs, Porters and Stouts.

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I enjoyed the variety that Oregon had to offer, up until I went into the Air Force and couldn’t enjoy it anymore; then, I appreciated it even more. It is my experience that places like Texas and Arkansas do not appreciate the darker or more hoppy beers as much as I do (nor do they appreciate variety). There were some local breweries in Little Rock, but you couldn’t find most of their stuff at any local grocery stores, like you would be able to find a local brewery’s beer in a store in Oregon. Still, in Arkansas, separated from my social groups, on the weekends, I looked forward to the beer I would be able to drink. Now that I’m back and out of the service… I have a definite beer gut. This was a goal, though; to grow my hair out, grow my beard out, and grow my gut out. I’m on track; most of my pants no longer fit.