MUSICAL MEMOIRS GOES BACK TO COLLEGE FOR A HARD LESSON
“Who’s in the bedroom?” she asked, having noticed the closed door.
“Oh –it’s John,” I said. “He had kind of a rough night.”
Usually, I could sort of weasel my way out of a situation like this. But not this time. After my mom took a look at my conked-out friend, she said, “What are you – crazy? You should have taken him to a hospital!”
Okay, well. Maybe.
“He’ll be all right,” I said, like any irresponsible buddy. “He just needs to sleep a bit.”
In my defense, the guy brought it on himself. I mean, seriously – who picks a fight with a Big Ten wrestler? And it’s not like I gave him all that tequila.
I didn’t even want to go to that stupid party. When John called, I told him I needed to stay home and study. But somehow he talked me into it.
John had this roommate, Mike, who used to wrestle for Indiana University. While he no longer wrestled – grades might have had something to do with that — he continued to hang out with his old grappling pals. And since the wrestlers had girls at their parties, John – and by association, I – went to these get-togethers, even if the girls went to wrestler parties because they liked wrestlers.
The wrestlers seemed okay, though there was a lot of testosterone there. One of the first times I ever met them they were jamming to the Gun N’Roses song “Welcome to the Jungle” — a chaotic hard rocker with lyrical nods to violence.
But the problem at that party really began with tequila. As I was milking a beer – I did plan on studying later that day – John was lying on a couch, doing upside-down shots. And with each shot, he got a little more bleary eyed.
At some point, he started to kiddingly wrestle one of the wrestlers. I’m not sure why, but I know John didn’t particularly like the guy, named Tony. While it started out playful, it quickly led to a hard shove and then a punch and then a kick. Fearing my buddy was about to get pummeled, I moved to break it up, but as I got closer, two wrestler dudes drove me to the couch and piled on me.
“Just let ‘em fight,” one of them said.
With my face embedded in a couch cushion, I couldn’t see much, but I knew John and Tony were now on the floor – I could see arms and legs thrashing around. And I assumed it wasn’t going well. In the past, I’d heard stories of wrestlers ganging up on guys, even kicking them in the face.
Welcome to the jungle .. . I want to watch you bleed.
Suddenly, the two got off the floor – I saw their feet — and the guys on the couch followed as John quickly made for the front door. As Tony pursued him, I — the loyal friend — ran up behind him and drilled Tony in the side of the head, hoping to spare John.
Probably better than any punch John got in. But I couldn’t tell how it impacted Tony, because immediately afterward, someone punched me from behind. And before I knew it, I was twisted in an odd pretzel configuration, which — not being a wrestler myself — I’m guessing was some sort of wrestling hold.
“That’s my friend!” said the wrestler, who was at least one weight class heavier than me and, I must admit, pretty good at this hold.
At first, I was angry because, well – the guy hit me. So I considered retaliating. But then my rational, sober brain said something like, uh . . .
“It’s cool,” my brain made me say.
He let me go, and I headed toward Mike, who was standing on the front lawn. A few seconds later, I saw Tony throw a punch that sent John flying off the raised porch and into some bushes.
Stunt actors could not have staged it better.
Somehow I managed to get John out of there. But even as I was driving him home, I could see his face was beginning to look like a lopsided baseball. I tried to console him, but instead of interacting with me, he rolled down my window, leaned over the door and puked outside the moving car, most of the vomit actually landing on my Buick.
After that, he wasn’t very engaging, on account of him passing out.
That’s probably when my rational, sober brain (not to mention my mom) might have argued that I should have drove to a hospital.
Instead, I took him to my place – I lived off campus, at home – and into an extra room. As I was watching TV and decompressing, my friend Eric, who worked the late shift, dropped by unexpectedly. After I described the melee to him, he shook his head and said, “Well – wanna whip out the video game?” And we began playing my old Atari – boxing, ironically.
Until my mom woke up, any way. If I’d managed to buffalo her into thinking I wasn’t the partying type, John’s misshapen face blew the ruse. So while he would eventually recover, my reputation would take a permanent hit.
Welcome to the jungle .. . It’s gonna bring you down.
So the lesson, kids, is this: Don’t do tequila shots.
And if you study hard enough, you won’t get punched by wrestlers.
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