Warning: Technically, all of this is true. Unless you’re talking to my mom, in which case this is a product of my imagination. Pure and utter fiction…
It was a Saturday in June and I was on rooftop bar in Camden with a group of Tom’s friends and acquaintances. One of his old school friends had ordered a pitcher of Sex on the Beach to share.
I hadn’t had one in years. I couldn’t remember the last time, but I definitely remembered the first…
I was 16 and at a club called The Loft in Montreal. I was spending six weeks on an exchange, living with a family and working at science camp for the summer. Apparently I was also lying about my age and going clubbing. It was my first time spending an extended period away from home.
My host family thought I was sleeping over at another girl in the program’s house. Technically, that was true. They let me go because the following morning we had to meet the rest of our exchange group and co-ordinator to go on one of the exchange-organized trips they took us on during weekends.
We got to the door of the club and I pretended I had forgotten my I.D. at our hotel and said I was 20. That wasn’t true. The bouncer let me in anyway because my friend had her fake and she ‘vouched’ for me. At the bar I had no idea what to order, so she recommended a Sex on the Beach and told me what was in it. I thought it sounded good, so I went for it. It was strong, tasting more of alcohol than I had expected. I drank one and ordered a Smirnoff Ice after.
At the bar, I met a dark-haired guy with a tan (it was August so this was not unusual) named Adam. He claimed to be a 22-year old firefighter from New York. He had muscular arms and was very attractive, so I decided to believe him. He bought me a drink – Smirnoff Ice – and we talked. He bought me another, and we kissed. At some point, I took off to find my friend.
My friend and I danced and then I met Jeff, who was allegedly from Massachusetts. I don’t remember very much about him, except that he was blonde. I wrote in my journal that I liked him and he was nice. We kissed too, outside the club just before last call. My friend dragged me away.
“Alyssa! Nobody stays at a club past last call—it’s embarrassing!”
This was a lesson I took with me throughout university. We all know the type of people that are at the club until the lights turn on…
We jumped into a cab and made our way back home and into bed around 4am. We woke up two hours later and started getting ready. The plan was water park, then camping. I hadn’t even sobered up.
I don’t remember much about that weekend but apparently I went on two water slides and then retreated to the change room to write in my journal. I think I slept in there, too. One of the rules of the exchange was no drinking—none of us were of legal age—so I said I wasn’t feeling well. Technically, that was true. We were camping that night. I felt like death.
I recorded the whole ordeal in the journal I kept, and reading back on my teenage naivete makes me giggle.
August 5, 2005
“I forgot I had a shot of Sour Puss – blegh – it tasted like fluoride from the dentist.”
“We bought ourselves Tequila. You do this weird thing. You put salt on your hand, drink the tequila and then chase it with a lemon.” (That was from a week later, but it too cute not to share.)
Back in London, I sat next to Tom sipping my Sex on the Beach, listening to everyone talk. I wondered whether witty repartee is a British genetic thing and if not, how they got it.
I thought about my booze phases: Amaretto Sour…Shirley Temple (they’re just delicious!)…Rum & Coke…Vodka 7…Rye & Ginger Ale…Black Tower white wine.
Now I’m partial to cider and wine, the occasional rum, but I don’t really drink much at all.
Finally, I thought of that girl with braided hair in her tightest jeans and smallest push-up bra, trying to pull off Carrie coquettish banter while sipping a Smirnoff Ice that stung her throat so she could kiss boys to ‘be cool’.
I felt sad for her, and even more so after reading her journal. But I know that she and her insecurities are a part of what makes me who I am. And I am so much happier and more secure with myself now than I ever have been before.
I squeezed Tom’s arm and smiled, quietly thanking him for being there to see – and help me become – the person I am now:
I don’t have braids, I don’t need liquid courage to kiss him, I hold my own banter-wise, and Sex on the Beach tastes like juice.
P.S. I bet you thought this was going to be a lewd story about a romp in the sand in Martinique, didn’t you! Sorry for tricking you, you sly dog you. 😉