The end of something

I knew my college career was over the morning after Opening Day 2006. After playing a key role on the team that lead the University of Wisconsin to the #1 in the party school rankings in both the Princeton Review and Playboy, I had crawled across the finish line to claim a degree. I was about to embark on a final Lost Summer as a sort of post-graduation Award Tour.

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The day started innocently enough. My friend Danny picked me up from my parents, where I was staying for the weekend, and we went to our childhood liquor store, Avenue Liquor, to pick up the half barrel of Lite his parents ordered. In the checkout line, I made an impulse purchase southern_comfort_kentucky_200.jpg
of a 200 mL flask of Southern Comfort — “just in case.” Just in case of what, I’m not sure, like maybe I’d suddenly end up in a Tennessee Williams play or have to entertain The Mistick Krewe of Comus for Mardi Gras.

Bob and Dar, Danny’s parents, were fixing Bloody Marys back at their place. The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast. Danny’s friends brought Goldschläger and Jägermeister to the tailgate party to add to the copious amounts of beer, brats and Dar’s signature Jell-o shots formed in easter egg molds.Once inside the game, I disappeared from our Brew Krewe for much of the game, an exciting 5-2 win over Pittsburgh. Much of that time was spent advising a photographer friend as she navigated the sport and a press pen in right field, which is now the Mercedes-Benz Field Haus, and scooping up swag in the form of plastic batting helmets.

I finally ran into Danny & Co. as they were filing out of the Park, and we went back to the lot determined to finish the keg of Lite. I cracked open the SoCo flask. When went to an friend couple’s apartment to watch the final game of March Madness, I got a call from my boss.

“You know you’re supposed to work tonight, right?” I thought I had taken off for the entire day and night — a Monday. “So are you coming in?” Considering I’m 100 miles away and very drunk, “No. I am definitely not.”

When I woke up, Florida had beaten UCLA 73-57, and the flask was resting empty on my chest. When I woke up the next morning at my parents’ house, I got a concerned, disgusted “Are you all right?” from my mom.

It was the end of an era. The summer was spectacular, but confirmed my suspicions that certain ships had sailed. And it was all right.
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“For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin’.”

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