It was during the first term of my second year at Penn State and I was going to one of Tim and Ed’s Saturday night parties.
Tim Toward of Tower City (that’s easy to remember, right?), a Pre-Med major, and Ed Stutz of New Philadelphia, majoring in History. I had met them the previous year when they were roommates on the same dorm floor as I was. They had attended one of Penn State’s satellite campuses their first two years and become great friends, the kind that can finish each other’s sentences. Now during their senior year, they were living in the Whitehall Apartments about two miles or so off campus, and they had invited me, as they usually did, to the party they were throwing on Saturday night.
This must have been in late November, 1968, or perhaps very early December. I can date it with some confidence because one of the records that was played at the party was The Beatles’ double album entitled simply The Beatles, and usually referred to as “The White Album”, which had just been released on November 22.
I’m not sure who else was there, but certainly Nan must have been. She was at all their parties. If I ever knew Nan’s last name, I’ve long since forgotten it. Sorry, Nan.
I do, however, remember Diane and Bryce (or perhaps Diana and Brice? Or maybe Blaine?). I had never seen them before, and sadly, I never saw them again after that party, but I spent an enjoyable several hours chatting with the two of them.
We found ourselves sitting in the little anteroom just outside the kitchen, while the rest of the party revelers were dancing and gyrating to their hearts content in the living room. I recall being pleasantly surprised as the dancers never seemed to miss a beat as the tunes on that album shifted into odd meters, even right in the middle of a song. They always seemed to find a new step to go with the music, almost as if they had been choreographed in advance.
Meanwhile, Diane and Bryce and I just sat in the little anteroom chatting and drinking.
Or at least I was drinking. I think Diane and Bryce were mainly just chatting and nursing their drinks.
And that was the problem, for I was sitting right next to the keg, so it was all too easy to refill my glass whenever it was empty. I was still relatively new to drinking, and still underage for Pennsylvania, so I didn’t really know my limit, and I really wasn’t paying much attention to what I was drinking. Plus, since I was just sitting there chatting away with this pleasant couple, I didn’t notice what effect the beer was having on me.
At some point, things just became a blur.
Now Tim had probably given me a ride to the party. That’s how I usually got there, and he would also usually drive me back to my dorm on campus. But I’m not sure what happened on this occasion, because as I said, things just became a blur.
All I remember is walking across a field and throwing up every few steps.
And then I woke up.
I was on a couch. In a lobby of some sort. I didn’t recognize the place. And I felt awful.
It was daylight. Probably about 7:00 AM or so. There was no one else around, so I staggered out the front door. And found myself having to navigate what seemed like a maze to get to the gate that opened onto the sidewalk.
And I realized that I couldn’t have found my way into that place by myself. Someone must have helped me, I know not who.
Anyway, once on the sidewalk, I found my bearings and realized I was on College Avenue, just past the western end of the main campus. So somehow I had managed to stagger through those two miles from Tim and Ed’s apartment back to the campus.
I made my way back to my dorm, which was on the opposite side of the campus, so there was still quite a walk ahead of me, but I made it. And took some aspirin. Worst drunk of my life.
Later that day I related the story to Roy Laird, a Theatre Arts student who lived on the same dorm floor as I did. When I finished, he asked what I had been drinking, as apparently I had omitted that detail from my narrative.
When I told him it was beer from a keg, he looked disappointed. “You mean you did all that on beer!?” he exclaimed. “You did all that on just beer?”