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Gather round, kiddies. It’s time for another embarrassing Goldfish drinking story. Most of my embarrassing moments involve public speaking or drinking, and sometimes, both together.

I started drinking when I was about fourteen. I was a pretty messed up kid and I was trying to check out of my life completely. Alcohol seemed like a perfect way to do that.

My dad was an alcoholic. I say “was” because he isn’t anymore. One day, about fifteen years ago, he just stopped drinking. He quit drinking like I quit drugs–cold turkey. I can’t imagine that was much fun. I guess it runs in my family.

At the time though, my dad was an alcoholic. He had bottles of booze stashed around the house. I found them and started stealing from them. I’d fill up little vials with my dad’s booze. He couldn’t get angry with me for purloining his booze stashes since he wasn’t supposed to have it either. My mom didn’t know the extent of his drinking. I knew most of his hiding spots. My dad kept me stocked in alcohol all through high school against his will. He never said anything.

I kept a flask in my locker. I’d get a soda from the vending machine, drink a quarter of it and fill the rest with alcohol. We were allowed to bring soda to class as long as it was purchased at school, so I was able to stay steadily buzzed all day.

I thought my tolerance for alcohol was pretty high since I drank every day. I was wrong. This is the story of the first time I ever got well and truly drunk.

I had two best friends in high school–a redhead and a brunette. We were all underage and had nothing to do with ourselves. One boring Saturday night, we somehow managed to get a huge bottle of tequila. This tequila was quite stylish and came with a hat, or rather, a red sombrero.

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Ouch. Being the highly sophisticated idiots we were, we decided to kill the whole bottle. Whoever finished the last drop, got to wear the hat. I got to wear the hat, because apparently, I’m highly competitive about red chapeaus. Who wouldn’t want to wear that stylin’ red hat? I was so blackout drunk I barely remember a thing.

The next day, I woke up with an extreme hangover, and minimal hints and flashes of the previous night’s events. I threw up and generally stayed in a state of extreme hangover impairment for most of the day. By evening, I felt better, so when my friends called me up to see if I wanted to go to Denny’s, I said sure.

Denny’s is a chain restaurant in the United States. They’re everywhere. They’re usually open 24 hours, and the food is cheap and barely edible.

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When we arrived at Denny’s, the greeter’s face immediately changed from a serene smile to a grimace. She said she didn’t want any trouble. My friends assured her that we were sober and there wouldn’t be any.

As she led us to the table, everyone in the restaurant, mostly fellow high school students, started snickering. Several of them called me Red. I questioned my friends since I had not even a clue what that was about.

Apparently, the night before, since we were all drunk and bored, we walked up to Denny’s restaurant. I had absolutely no recollection of even leaving my friend’s house.

Denny’s was where all the high school kids who didn’t have cars hung out, because we lived in a very boring part of Detroit and there was nothing else to do besides go to a restaurant. We three drunkards walked into Denny’s where I turned into somewhat of an unruly child. I started singing, crawling on the floor under other patron’s tables and threw up on someone’s shoes while they were wearing them.

Somehow, I had torn a huge hole in the seat of my jeans. As I was crawling on the floor, depositing the contents of my stomach, mostly tequila, on innocent footwear, my ass was clearly visible. I was wearing red underwear. The nickname Red stuck through most of high school to the people who were there that night.

But, worse, I got kicked out of Denny’s.

Nobody ever gets kicked out of Denny’s. You could be a homeless person that smells like death from fifty meters who sits in a booth all day nursing one cup of coffee and you won’t get kicked out of Denny’s. You could brandish a knife and threaten patrons; they’ll call the police on your ass, but you won’t get kicked out. Denny’s doesn’t have bouncers. It’s not like a nightclub.

Yet, I got kicked out of Denny’s.

The staff at Denny’s have the patience of saints and I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize for all the times I sat in Denny’s nursing one cup of coffee, barely tipping and being a teenage jackass.

That was the first time I was ever really soused, and the last time I ever drank tequila to excess. Nowadays, the only way I will even touch tequila is if it’s disguised in a margarita.