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  • PROLOGUE: THE YEAR I GAVE UP DRINKING**

    **BUT NOT REALLY


    It was New Year’s Eve, on the cusp of celebrating the dawn of 2008, that I decided to give up drinking for a year.

    It was a challenge, not a necessity. I wasn’t an alcoholic by any means. I was competitive. I honestly wanted to see if I could do it.

    I couldn’t. Yeah.

    First of all, I gave myself a few outs. To make up for the awkwardness that would likely ensue at social functions at a bar, I would allow myself to order and drink beer or wine. I didn’t really care for either at the time, so it didn’t seem like that much of a cheat. (Guess who developed a taste for beer and wine that year!)

    Secondly, all of my forbidden drinking only applied to alcoholic beverages I personally ordered and paid for. If I was getting booze free of charge, I was allowed to have it without it affecting my self-appointed challenge.

    This particular loophole also made no sense, since I was working as a reporter for a gossip website at the time and would cover multiple events each week, and almost every event came with an open bar. I knew this was a silly goal that basically meant nothing, but if anything, it might help me save some money and give my liver a break.

    My liver went on overtime that year. In fact, it was during this year of “not drinking” that I got the drunkest I’ve ever been or likely ever will be in my life. And it was in front of Taylor Swift.

    CHAPTER 1: EMPTY STOMACHS AND TALKING HEADS

    In April of 2008, I was invited to cover the Young Hollywood Awards. This event was just an excuse to create some buzz for a bunch of young up-and-coming actors and singers. It was also an excuse for older hasbeens and wannabes to walk a red carpet in hopes anyone will stop them for an interview and offer them some relevancy.

    I had to get to the Young Hollywood Awards at the Avalon, a giant club on Vine, by 5pm on a Sunday evening. Being that I was 25 at the time and not 75, I hadn’t yet eaten dinner and wouldn’t get a chance to, as I was also supposed to cover the awards show and party after. I had eaten a quick, light lunch, too, nibbling on something that barely satiated my hunger. I would have to grab a street dog or something on my way home after I had finished covering the party.

    I pretended I wasn’t hungry as I watched waifs and models sashay by me. I ended up getting to ask a few questions to a rising country star named Taylor Swift. I knew Taylor’s name already; the previous year at my former job, I had nearly arranged an interview with her when she was 16 years old and just starting to make a name for herself as some sort of country wunderkind. That interview fell through due to her touring schedule, but now here she was in front of me.

    She was better than all of us, even back then.

    Taylor, now 17, was perfectly pleasant, polite and oh-so pretty. She was there to receive the Superstar of Tomorrow Award, an incredibly prophetic honor. As she spoke, I made mental notes of which soundbites I would use in tomorrow’s blog post. She seemed like a nice girl, but, as a gossip reporter, I was disappointed that she gave me nothing juicy. Oh well, that’s fine -- Heidi and Spencer, the two-headed cerebus from The Hills, were right behind her.

    CHAPTER 2: A GOLD MEDAL IN THE ICE LUGE

    When the red carpet parade was tailoring off, my friend Jesse joined me as my plus one. Jesse also worked for a gossip website, except he was stuck at a desk writing snarky remarks on paparazzi photos and never got invited to anything good. I usually brought him along as my plus one so I would have someone to snark with.

    At this point, I was a few months in since I began my sober challenge and had cut back my drinking significantly. Despite all the open bars in my life, I would usually only grab one free drink for the night. All in all, I wasn’t imbibing all that much. So when I saw the copious amounts of alcohol flowing throughout the main foyer of the Avalon, I decided that I deserved a night of indulgence.

    I started by downing two flutes of pink champagne topped with sorbet, a beverage so perfectly dessert-like you’d have no idea it was alcoholic. We then stopped by the ice luge to do shots of vodka, waving over waitresses in fishnets holding trays of fruity cocktails.

    When the house lights flashed to signal the start of the awards ceremony, I was already wasted. Wasted. Jesse and I climbed to the tippy-top of the Avalon, high above the press section in the balcony, where there was one single booth that had the best view of the entire arena. We were so far away from anyone else that we were free to loudly and relentlessly make fun of all the celebrity presenters, taking breaks to go back downstairs and get more drinks.

    CHAPTER 3: OH GOD, SHE REMEMBERS ME

    Suddenly, I blink awake. I had passed out. One minute I was laughing and making insults at whatever C-lister was on stage, the next minute I was shaken by a security guard as I laid on my side in the booth, my head flopped under the table.

    “Miss, are you alright?” asked the security guard. He said it with concern, but all I could think was that I was in trouble.

    “I’m fine,” I get out before I throw up a heap of water.

    The security guard hoisted me up, and there were two more security looking on. Jesse? Jesse is nowhere to be seen. I have never passed out drunk before, and I spent four years in the Greek system at USC. I was scared, and anxious, but mostly just wasted beyond belief. Am I going to jail?

    While I should have been inside chatting up celebutards at the after party, I was instead escorted outside to the corridor leading to the VIP entrance. I took a seat on a bench, staring at the security guard’s shoes while vomiting up all my cocktails. Hey, at least I didn’t pay for them.

    Two new pairs of feet entered my field of view – one sporting black pumps, the other in strappy gold stilettos.

    “Oh no, isn’t that the girl who interviewed me earlier?”

    Oh, god. Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift and her publicist are watching me puke up champagne cocktails.

    “Does she need any help?”

    Taylor Swift, you kind, beautiful creature, you. I’m glad you asked. I do need help.

    I need someone to hail me a cab, because I’m too drunk to wave my arms or dial a number on my phone. I need someone to find my friend so he knows that I’m still alive and also to berate him for leaving me passed out alone. I also need someone to drive me back here tomorrow morning before I work to pick up my car, and someone to bring me Advil and cook me hangover eggs.

    If you could be a doll and do all that, I’d appreciate it.

    And I bet she would have, too, if I had asked. Instead, I threw up water all over her shoes.

    CHAPTER 4: SHAKE IT OFF

    Eventually, Jesse found me outside. He had wandered off to get another drink and had decided to stay down by the bar so he could mingle with starlets. Basically, he was doing my job for me, which is his way for repaying me for giving him access to free booze and talkative celebrities. He gave me a ride home, and I thankfully didn’t throw up while in the passenger seat.

    I stumbled inside my apartment, and crawled my way to the fridge for some water. Inside, there was a giant piece of wedding cake with a post-it with my name on it. My roommate had gone to a wedding that evening and brought me back a slice of cake.

    I ate the sugary sweetness created to honor two people in love I had never met, felt better, and went to bed licking the icing from my lips.

    EPILOGUE: LESSONS LEARNED

    There are several things I learned from this night. These lessons include:

    Eat before you party.

    Be wary of wearing open-toed shoes while attending an event with an open bar.

    Even the Superstar of Tomorrow can occasionally run into the Drunkard of Today.

    You can plan to not drink for an entire year, end up drinking 99 cocktails in 365 days (yes, I took a tally), and still manage to be pretty proud of your self-discipline.

    Sometimes, you can drink entirely too much, neglect your work responsibilities and make a total embarrassment of yourself, and you still get cake at the end of it. There is no karma and the universe is indifferent.

    And Taylor Swift is pretty cool.
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