Taking care of your drunk friend at a party, I feel, is one of the few things in life that is guaranteed to teach you a lesson on saint-like restraint. Because while you may want to throttle them as they prance around, challenging everyone to arm wrestle, strongly suggesting that Naruto is the best anime ever made, you find it within yourself to remember that they’re not always like this — they never challenge people to arm wrestle at least.

For a very long time seeing my friend, Philip, drunk was enough of a deterrent for me. My parents had droned on and on about the dangers of alcohol and how really, drinking wasn’t all that but witnessing the deadly combination that was Philip and Hennessey is what really put the lid on the bottle for me. While I was washing off his vomit covered face, I swore never to even touch a bottle of alcohol. If this was what being drunk was like, then nope, no thank you. I was good, love, enjoy.

That was the thing for me with alcohol, it didn’t even taste nice to begin with and that was already a red flag in my book. I mean, if it wasn’t covered in a colourful band that had a nice illustration to go with it, then I really wasn’t interested. Ribena, yes, Grey Goose, no. I would sigh as Philip’s head was on my lap, sleeping in the car as the rest of us tried our very best to sober him up before he got home. You alcoholic, I’d think, did you find it, hmm? What you were looking for at the bottom of the bottle? Was it really worth it, bro? Now look, we’re listing Naruto characters to keep you up. What is even there in alcohol? It’s not even all that, my mum always says that, you know. *Sigh* Why can’t you be like me, your responsible friend, the perfect paradigm of self-control and ascetism?

And then the following week, I got drunk for the first time.

See, the annoying thing about being all self-righteous and haughty is that when you eventually fall — and you will — you fall hard. And to add insult to injury, it was at a barbecue; Philip’s barbecue.

Prior to this, I had been given the lowdown for alcohol, kinda like a Beginner’s Guide to Drinking. The first rule was to never, under any circumstances, get drunk with people you didn’t know. The second was that, while you may want to at the point, your phone was to be nowhere near your drunk texting ass — I learnt this one the hard way. Drinks with violent names like Bullet or Knockout were to be treated with absolute caution; these drinks would leave you not just drunk but important information like your name and date of birth would be lost to you for a while.

You could, maybe, on some select circumstances, drink beer but Star and Gulder were reserved for armed robbers and cultists who met at incomplete buildings and had nicknames like Scorpion and Mace. If you really wanted to get faded, like really wanted to hammer, then vodka was the way forward, but you had to be careful because some of the brands came in weird flavours like passion fruit and strawberry and were almost always likely to taste like foul medicine. When mixing, the appropriate ratio was 60% mixer to 40% alcohol, though this ratio changed from time to time depending on whether or not you actually wanted to see straight. People who could sky any alcohol of any kind were not to be fucked with and wine drunk, out of all the drunks you could ever get, was undoubtedly the best drunk. It gives you a nice gentle buzz, like you’re walking on little jellyfish. While gin would leave you having a heart to heart conversation with your door about your day, wine made sure you at least looked to make sure no one was watching.

There were also different types of drunks: the type who were happy and gave out free hugs or the type that could suddenly and violently remember every dance move ever performed, and then there were the drunks like me. Prior to the breakdown, everything felt fluffy and nice actually. I had a full hour conversation with a pretty girl with glasses on a topic I have definitely forgotten but I do remember rolling desperately on the floor at some point, wondering why cats and dogs never actually got along. They were all animals, pets, didn’t it make more sense to put aside their petty differences and join forces to fight the humans that enslaved them? The war they fought, really, only tore apart their communities, when would they stop? When would they see?

This was the moment I found out, annoyingly, that while you can drink your problems away for a few hours, you can’t really run away from them completely, not really. They catch up to you in the end, following you tight behind your heels and you evolve into the type of drunk no one ever really wants to be: the sad drunk. The difference between me and Philip was now as clear as the shot glass we both drank from: he drank for sport, the thrill and the buzz while I, on the other hand, was desperately trying to drown.

I was obviously spiraling but I think that’s the weird thing about the fall, you feel it happening and you see it happening but it’s like you’re watching as someone else take the reels on your own life, while you’re forced in the backseat, thinking for what feels like eternity about the answer to a question, one very important question that rings in your ear every time you even think of a bottle of alcohol.

“Anthony, what are you doing on the floor?”

Anthony Azekwoh is a Nigerian-based author and artist. He has written five books so far, and is now working on the sequel to his fourth book Ṣàngó, Oya.