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Tales of Undergrad

Tales of Undergrad: The Blue Sweater

How I got the most valuable sweater I have ever *owned.

*This post contains explicit material*

The Tales of Undergrad posts are what I remember of my real life occurrences between the years of 2012 and 2016, my time in undergraduate college. These stories are only from my perspective, and like most of my stories, they are filled with inaccurate exaggerations and feature a vulgar use of the English language.

Put some alcohol in your mouth to block the words from coming out. -Ron Swanson

The Blue Sweater

by Zeb M Carbaugh

12/6/16

            I went to college at Slimy Pebble University of Pennsylvania. It’s a cold, wet, and mostly forgotten town filled with alcoholic college students and a few disgruntled townies. I joined my fraternity within three weeks of my freshmen move-in. The four years that followed were filled with crazier adventures than I could have ever imagined. The fraternal atmosphere I thrived in during college was not for the faint of heart. My fraternity brothers and I pushed our livers to their limits multiple times a week and threw some amazingly elaborate parties. We resembled the Delta house from the 1978 film Animal House, trashy fraternity house and all. Throughout those years I had generated some truly colorful stories, but the most requested story of all is the one you’re about to read.

After three years of only being in town for the fall and spring semesters, I had decided to stay in Slimy Pebble for the summer of 2015. It was the greatest and worst decision of my undergraduate career.

Small college towns are practically a barren wasteland when fall and spring classes aren’t in session. There are a lot less parties going on but that doesn’t stop the drinking. Although fewer friends are around, you get more chances to bond with the friends who do stay. My friend and brother Grady just happened to be staying in town that summer, poor bastard.

Grady was better known as Red Panda. He got his nickname simply because he was a big fat grumpy ginger pothead. He was actually the first brother of our fraternity that I met. He was a year older than me and I always looked up to him. Panda and I knew we were going to have a rather boring summer if we didn’t include each other in our various plans, so when Panda had to go home for a weekend he invited me along. We both had no idea how bad of a decision that was.

For about a year I had been working at my on-campus job. I worked for the SPU IT Help Desk where I was a help line secretary/pack mule/the department bitch. The pay was terrible and the work was unbelievably boring. The week leading up to Panda and I’s trip, I decided to do some research on Panda’s home town. Like I said, it was a boring job, so researching a random town in Pennsylvania was my most exciting option. Panda lived in the northwestern Pennsylvania town of Karren. I found that Karren is the home to the largest mental institution east of the Mississippi. Panda also told me that Karren was the birthplace of the hallucinogenic drug known as bath salts. Yeah, the same drug that jump started the zombie craze in America, because one dude took too much and ate another dudes face off, that hallucinogenic drug known as bath salts. Other than that, Karren looked like a pretty interesting town. It had some scenic views and a decent amount of drinking establishments that I had my eye on. There was no doubt in my mind that the weekend ahead was going to be filled with obnoxious bar crawling fun.

Once Panda and I got off work on Friday afternoon, we threw our bags in his car and set our sights north to Karren. I lit a tightly rolled blunt and played some tunes until we arrived. The whole reason for our trip was because Panda was part of a slow-pitch softball league with his friends from home. That Friday night his team The Cleveland Steamers had a game and Panda’s attendance was expected. As we pulled into the dirt parking lot next to the softball diamond, a dopey looking individual wearing dirty work boots, denim overalls, and a trucker hat was trying to get our attention. As he waved us down with a big goofy smile on his face, Panda was slowing his car and rolling down his window. Without bringing the car to a full stop, I watched Panda stick his head out of his window. I expected a pleasant exchange of friends that hadn’t seen each other in a while, but Panda only said “Fuck you Davey! Eat shit!” and rolled up his window. I was slightly taken aback but really that was quite the normal greeting for Panda. Then he leaned over and said to me “That’s Davey, he’s the village idiot. Try not to interact with him or he’ll follow you around all night.” Then we found a good parking spot and walked over to a group of Panda’s friends.

Panda’s friends were a bunch of dip spitting small town boys. There was Jack; an Oakley and Under Armour toting pretty boy. Butch; an older looking guy who didn’t say much but chuckled at almost every joke cracked within the group. Then there was Clayton. Clayton was close to Panda and I’s age but he had his own house where he and his fiancée lived. Panda knew about my tendency to get overly loud and obnoxious when I drank so instead of having me sleep at his childhood home he asked Clayton if we could stay with him that night. This way we could get pretty rowdy when we came home from the bar and not worry about waking up Panda’s parents.

After Panda had introduced me to his circle of friends, he and I hopped back in his car to pick up a couple of twelve packs at the closest hole-in-the-wall bar. Panda just got a light beer but I chose to get man-cans with a very high alcohol content. It was the maximum amount of beer anyone person could buy at bar and walk out with it in Pennsylvania. Then we headed back to the game.

I’m typically a social butterfly. That being said, sitting on the bleachers of a softball game where the only person I knew and all the people he had just introduced me to were busy playing, I felt a little out of place. I relied on my recently purchased man-cans to smooth my social predicament. Within an hour the game was over. I had knocked back 6 of those giant sized beers. It should be noted that a man-can holds 24 ounces of beer. The game finished up. The Cleveland Steamers lost 6 to nothing, but you wouldn’t have guessed their defeat by the way they celebrated afterwards.

Immediately following the game, we went down to the team’s favorite bar. I love going to every bar. I love seeing places that have elaborate and fancy décor and places so run down the floor isn’t even level. In my opinion, every bar is a good bar. This particular watering hole was known for their chicken finger covered salads. The place was covered in banners from local high school teams, photos of the town during its discovery over two centuries ago, and TV’s showing only sports channels. It was called The River’s End. I was ecstatic! Waiting for us at a table in the back and stuffing his face with complimentary popcorn was the last of Panda’s friends I would meet that weekend. His name was Andy, but everyone called him Pudge. Pudge had one of the fattest necks I had ever seen. Pudge greeted us with “Sup’ fuckers! Panda, it’s nice to see you back in town. Who’s your friend?”

“Pudge this is Zeb. Zeb meet Pudge” Panda replied. Pudge had a big mouth and a dark sense of humor. We got along nicely.

The rest of our time at The River’s End I sat next to Butch. Butch went toe to toe with me in terms of alcohol consumption. He and I drank Alabama slammers. They aren’t the manliest drink but they still pack quite the punch. The Team and I drank until our hearts were merry. Everyone else had something to eat, but I was on a mission to get completely plastered. Every time someone told me that I should eat something I gave them my go-to phrase, “Liquid dinner for me.”

b_Alabama_Slammer

By the time we left The River’s End I was three shits to the wind. I didn’t want to leave this newly found oasis and if I had to leave I wanted it to be in pursuit of another place to buy a cold one. But it was already pretty late in the evening and some members of the team had work in the morning. Luckily Panda knew how to coerce me into turning in for the night, a skill he acquired after three years of dealing with my alcoholic ass. We went back to Clayton’s house after leaving The River’s End. I met his fiancée and was shown where I would be sleeping for the night. It was in the basement.

Apparently Clayton had some money because in his early 20’s he had a kickass house. This place had a bar in the man-cave basement, a decent sized kitchen and living room, and at least two bedrooms on the second floor. Oh, and did I mention the hot tub in the back yard? Yeah, this dude had a hot tub. Needless to say I was content with Panda’s decision to turn in for the night.

After assessing this kickass house and meeting Clayton’s fiancée, I immediately asked Clayton where the booze was. Like a shark that’s caught the scent of blood, once I had hit a certain level of shitfaced, I’m looking for nothing other than to reach an even higher level of drunk. I convinced Panda, Clayton, and his fiancée to join me for a few night caps. Clayton busted out a fifth of Fireball. We all took a few shots and got to know each other better. At this point I was having trouble standing up, but I wanted to get in Clayton’s kickass hot tub.

If you know anything about hot tubs, it is a terrible idea to get into one while you are hammered. Something about the hot water mixing with alcohol induced blood intensifies the buzz. Everyone changed into their bathing suits and was ready to head into the tub. The other three grabbed a few beers and they were good to go, but I protested that beer wasn’t enough. I still wanted to reach that higher level of drunk. Being the great host that he was, Clayton reached behind the bar in the basement for a bottle of wine. He said “someone gave this bottle of wine to me as a gift, but I don’t like wine.” I seized the moment in a heartbeat. I’m not very picky when I am rip-shit drunk. I knew that wine would go down like water. Everyone had their beverages, so we headed to the backyard to get into the hot tub. We conversed about life and I got to know Clayton and his fiancée better while chugging some cheap-ass wine.

I swear that the last thing I remember of that night was polishing off that shitty bottle of wine. Next thing I know, I wake up on a padded rocking chair inside an enclosed porch. I had blacked out. I blacked out so hard that to fill in the events that transpired between the hot tub and my enclosed porch awakening I have to use Panda’s testimony from the next morning.

So according to Panda, I finished the bottle of wine in the hot tub. Shortly after, I chugged the beers that the others brought out with them. They were too busy laughing at me to give a shit. At some point in the hot tub I stood up on my seat and bellowed “I love this body and I don’t care who knows it!” I had recently gone through one of those transformative college experiences where I lost a lot of weight, and apparently drunken Zeb wasn’t afraid to let Clayton’s neighbors know all about it.

After everyone else noticed how inebriated I was, they decided everyone should go to bed. Panda and Clayton laid me down on a couch in the basement, and everyone else went to the second story of the house to pass out in their beds. Clayton and his fiancée slept in their bed and Panda took the guest room. They thought that was the end of it.

A few minutes later Panda heard me get up and head for the first story bathroom. He thought “that’s typical; a drunk person needs to piss a lot no big deal.” The only problem was that I didn’t just go to the bathroom. He listened to my footsteps from the second story guest room, and he didn’t hear me go back down to the basement. Instead he heard shuffling noises coming from the stairwell close to the room he was sleeping in. Like a good friend and fraternity brother he got up to make sure I wasn’t getting into any trouble. He found me sitting on the steps stroking the carpeted stairs. After chuckling for a moment he asked me; “are you okay buddy?”

In reply I could only offer the words “they’re so s0ft.” I was referring to the carpeted steps. Panda chuckled and took me back down to the basement to the couch I had fallen asleep on before. Although he knew I was incredibly hammered, he thought that was the end of it. Little did he know it was far from the end of this story.

Next we go to Clayton’s recollection of that night’s events. Clayton and his fiancée were comfortably sleeping in their own bed. They slept well with a decent buzz and a delusional confidence in the fact that their two guests wouldn’t disrupt their suburban dream. Then they were abruptly woken by my fat ass in their bedroom doorway. Apparently I spoke some shit that didn’t even form words. Clayton’s fiancée was totally horrified while Clayton was half pissed off and half amused. He told me to go back to sleep which made me leave their doorway. He was satisfied that I let them go back to sleep and didn’t investigate my actions further. But that wasn’t the end of it.

Panda says that I visited the room he was sleeping in at around two in the morning. He remembers me stepping into the doorway. Unlike my visit to Clayton’s room, I said nothing. Panda specifically remembers that I was completely silent. He was freaked out. Who knew I could be so scary in my drunkest state? To everyone’s recollection, I then retired to my basement dwelling shortly after. Once again they thought that was the end of it. Once again, they were terribly wrong.

The events that occurred between me terrorizing my hosts and waking up on that rocking chair will forever be lost to history. I’ve questioned every party involved and no one knows what happened, so back to the porch.

I remember waking up on a padded rocking chair. I had no recollection at all of the day or night before. I didn’t even remember I was in Karren Pennsylvania. Still hammered, I looked around and assessed my situation. I was inside an enclosed porch filled with tacky decorations. The glass door to outside was to my right and the door to inside the house was to my left. I was still drunk as hell. I had no idea where I was, and I was wearing nothing but my light blue boxer briefs. My first move was to try and open the door to inside the house. I thought that maybe I had been drinking at this house and that through some twisted turn of events I had been locked out. Maybe I just passed out drunk on the porch by accident.

The door was locked and there were no lights on inside the house. I knocked once. I knocked a few more times still not knowing where I was. Still confident that I had been wronged by friends inside this house, I yelled for someone to let me in. No answer was given. I decided it would be best to go around to the rear of the house. I opened the front porch door and walked to the back yard where I found a back door to pester. I knocked so many times at that backdoor that to this day I have no idea how long I was there. At this point in the night a chilling feeling was slowly creeping into my mind.

Mid knock I realized I was in Panda’s home town of Karren. No other information came to mind. I didn’t remember the softball game or grabbing drinks at The River’s End. I just knew I was in Karren PA. So, I demanded “Panda let me in! This isn’t funny anymore.” Again there was no answer. More realizations had come to fruition, but this house still didn’t look familiar in any way. I looked back at the house’s driveway. The car parked behind that house was one I had never seen before. I had fully realized how bad of a situation I was in. I had woken up on and pounded on a complete stranger’s home for I don’t know how long.

My first year of college, during winter break, I was stopped by a cop after a party. That resulted in some unsavory legal issues. Since then I have had a terrible fear of law enforcement. This fear was fitting for an alcoholic pothead like myself. That fear, coupled with the confusion of my current situation, was in full effect. I have never felt so afraid. I realized that I had never seen this house before, and that to my knowledge, I had no idea who lived at this address.

All the realization leading up to this moment pointed to the fact that I had woken up on some random porch in a town I knew almost nothing about. With no phone, shoes, pants, nor shirt I decided to take to the streets. I realize that a person in their underwear probably shouldn’t go outside at all, especially to walk around a suburban neighborhood in the middle of the night. But what would you have done? Remember, I was in the birth place of bath salts AND the town that had the largest insane asylum east of the Mississippi river. To find help, I was going to have to put my communication degree to use. I started jogging around this unknown neighborhood’s sidewalks wearing nothing but my freaking boxer briefs.

The only memory present in my head was that I was in Panda’s home town. As I paced the sidewalks of Karren PA I had only one person’s name on my mind. I started to chant “Panda where are you?” in desperation. I must have jogged over four blocks repeating those same words. All I knew was that I was screwed and the only person who could help was my fraternity brother Panda.

I had no idea what time it was. Without a watch or my phone, the sun could be coming up at any moment, and if that happened I would surely have the cops called on me in no time. My fear had reached an all-time high. The only location in my mind was the porch of some supposed elderly person that I had no connection with. I had reached my mental limit. I decided to return to the location of my reanimation. I found my way back to that enclosed porch. I sat back down on that padded rocking chair with my heart still racing from my failed reconnaissance jog. I had admitted defeat. In my still drunken mind I thought that my only option was to fall back asleep on this rocking chair and wait until someone called the cops on me. I was done. I closed my eyes and recited in my head the words I would say to the officer on the scene. “To be honest officer, I got royally shit faced and now I’m here. No idea how. I didn’t fight anybody, to my knowledge. Hopefully the granny inside isn’t scarred for life. But, you know as Mike Tyson said on The Hangover ‘we all do dumb shit when we’re fucked up.’” I was so full of fear and self-hatred that I decided that would be my official statement. Screw their Miranda Rights, I was going to go down with a legendary arresting statement.

Then out of nowhere I heard a voice. I don’t know if it was my subconscious refusing to let me spend another night in a holding cell or if it was the patron saint of the alcoholic riff-raffs, but that voice told me to get up. As if I was possessed by John “Bluto” Blutarsky himself, I leaped to my feet. Still only dressed in my light blue boxer briefs, I jumped up and decided to accept nothing less than a heroes’ welcome back to whatever domicile Panda was crashing. Once again I opened that enclosed porch door, but this time I opened it with hopes of a happy ending to this nightmare of a story.

I swung that door open and began my search of anything I could recognize. Instead of jogging, I started out walking. I tried my hardest to remember what events had led me to such a disastrous situation. I came up with nothing. So, I decided to just stroll around this neighborhood with a false bravado. I relied on an old shit-show fallback of mine: if in doubt, just be confident and everything will work out. My dumbass thought that if I just acted confident I would be okay. Yeah, that doesn’t work if you are wearing nothing but your boxers! Regardless, I strutted around Karren PA in my underwear as if I belonged there for about 20 minutes. As if a fat dude in his underwear walking around at 2am wasn’t strange enough, now I had a smile on my face. I have no doubt I looked deranged.

By some miracle from on high (or from below), I saw light coming from a pickup truck. With my misplaced confidence, I decided to approach the person meddling in their vehicle. I strutted towards the lit truck still standing on the sidewalk. I said “hello, I need some help.”

A middle aged man peered out from his truck with a very confused look on his face. With his arms still inside the cab of the pickup truck he asked “What?”

I explained “I am in quite the predicament. I don’t know where my phone is and I need to reach my friend.”

He noticed I was in my underwear. This middle aged man who probably was getting ready to go hunting, probably thought that I was an escapee from the largest mental institution east of the Mississippi. He replied to my request with “Back up.”

I replied, “Sir, I just need to use your phone for a little while and everything will be alright.” It is important to note that even though it was late May, it was pretty cold outside and I was shivering.

The man noticed my shivering. He did not appreciate it. He probably surmised that I was either a mental patient from the local mental hospital or that I was yet another participant of the locally founded hallucinogenic narcotic drug known as bath salts. His reply to my request was simply “No way in hell.”

I was surprised at this man’s refusal to help me. I requested “any form of assistance would be appreciated.” I tried to use the most scholarly voice I could muster because I knew how crazy I looked.

He said “What is wrong with you?”

I realized how bizarre this interaction must have been for him. My response was one of honesty; “I went out drinking with some friends. Shit must have gotten out of hand because I have no idea where I am right now.”

To this day, I think he only responded the way he did because of my blatant honesty. The man’s answer was “here’s a sweatshirt. It probably won’t fit, but here you go.” He threw me an article of clothing and went back to his business in the cab of his pickup truck.

I ignored his blatant and insensitive acknowledgment of my portly figure due the current unconventional situation and graciously replied “thank you sir. Thank you very much!”

For all I knew, he was reaching back into his truck for a firearm to threaten me away from his property. I quickly ran away from the sidewalk surrounding his property to avoid any physical harm he may understandably been planning to cause me.

To my luck, the article of clothing fit! It was a blue sweater. I put it on and it fit! It may have been fate that I had just recently lost so much weight or maybe it was just coincidence. Regardless, I was just happy to be wearing anything other than my light blue boxer briefs.

Sporting my recently acquired blue sweater, I walked the sidewalks of Karren Pennsylvania with a newly found sense of security. Within just one minute, I spotted Panda’s car. The same car I had spent two hours riding in less than 24 hours ago. His car was conveniently parked underneath the only street light for miles. The sight of his car literally gave me a high of relief. I rejoiced! I wasn’t going to spend the night in a holding cell. I wasn’t going to face legal charges. I would not have to put my collegiate career on hold once again because of my drinking problem!

I approached Panda’s car with exuberant delight. I peered in the windows to make sure it was the same vehicle. I saw the blunt ashes from the day before and I my uncontrollable happiness was confirmed. I had made it! I walked into the closest house. As I did, I recognized the house as being the house I approached some hours before. I opened the front door, went down stairs to the basement and found my belongings lying next to the couch I was destined to sleep on that night.

I swear I have never been so relieved before in my life. I laid down on that couch still wearing that blue sweater and my boxers. I picked up my phone and texted Panda “You will never believe the night I’ve had. Ask me where I got this blue sweatshirt in the morning.” With that text I fell into a deep relief filled slumber.

The next morning I was woken to the sight of Panda and Clayton staring at me. Panda promptly asked “where did you get the blue sweater buddy?” He laughed uncontrollably through the entire interaction. Clayton was smiling but you could tell he wasn’t as amused as Panda.

Through one of the most devastating hangovers I’ve ever experienced, I managed to answer Panda with “How about I tell you over breakfast.” For my usual hangover routine I requested that Panda and my new friend Clayton take me to the best local breakfast joint.

Clayton, Panda, and I ate breakfast in a nice greasy diner on the outskirts of Karren. During which time, I told them the horrifying events that had happened to me the night before. Not only did Clayton and Panda cling to every word, but the surrounding tables in the diner seemed to be engaged in my story. By the end of the story many laughs were heard and many judgmental looks were cast in my way. I specifically remember an elderly couple listening in on my unfortunate story. At the end of the story the elderly woman had an appalled look on her face, but the elderly gentleman gave me a wink of approval. Somehow his wink made the entire experience worth it.

The rest of the weekend I was too hungover to drink anything. Panda and his friends showed me some of the sights to behold in their interesting little town. No law enforcement agencies ever were involved in the whole incident. I guess the citizens of Karren PA are pretty chill to put up with a nearly naked reprobate like myself screaming “Panda, where are you!” The weekend ended with a humorous ride back to Slimy Pebble, and Panda told me that I was never welcome back to his home town ever again.

The moral of this story is that if you are going to drink like you are the spawn of Satan, do it around at least one person that cares about your wellbeing. Even then, make sure you can keep your cool when that person is nowhere to be found. You never know when your inner demons will steer you away from everything you can possibly recognize.

“Basically, I’m for anything that gets you through the night – be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.” – Frank Sinatra

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