Baker Act Pat – TBT

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As a popular destination for people in my dorm community with a hankering for beer pong, my room began seeing very heavy traffic each weekend.  Some nights, new faces were more common than familiar ones, especially with the parade of strangers that OJ ushered through my door.

One particular weekend, a broad framed and slightly portly fellow from up north named Pat joined us.  He was quiet, but beer pong breeds instant camaraderie and as Pat’s face grew redder with each game, we boisterously projected a genial manner on the guy and he smiled more and laughed harder as the night progressed.  Pat was an easy-going guy and fun to have around, if only as another body in the room adding volume to the laughter and happiness to the sweaty drunken atmosphere.  At the time, we were always in need of beer pong opponents so that we could play with teams of two, so I felt like we found a real keeper in Pat.

He partied with us twice in one weekend.  With the populations that OJ assembled varying between the two nights, I came to realize Pat’s connection to the chain smokers in the courtyard.  He didn’t do much to shift the group dynamic with us, so I assumed he was just a quiet guy lost in the ruckus of the cigarette gang and that was why I never noticed him before.

The next weekend, OJ and I prepared to gather bodies for binge drinking.  I mentioned inviting Pat and we tried to run him down, but never got a hold of him.  This became a recurring pattern over the following weekends.  Back then, I remembered Pat’s last name and I found him on Facebook and friended him.  I asked him where he had been on his wall, but got no reply.

I asked the chain smokers if any of them had seen Pat lately.  One casually mentioned that Pat had been Baker Act-ed the past couple of weekends.  The Baker Act is a law that states that someone can be detained and observed for up to 48 hours if they are reported to be a danger to themselves or others – at least that was what I learned from my peers.  I was shocked that such a quiet, laid back guy could be locked away for something like that.  I was even more flabbergasted by the way that the smokers were laughing about it until one of them elaborated on it.

Pat had a girlfriend back home who was a drama queen and things had become quite a train wreck between them.  His psycho girlfriend’s favorite tactic was to call the cops on him after they had a fight over the phone.  She would tell the officials that he was threatening to hurt himself, and just like that, Pat would vanish for a couple of days.  “What a bitch!” I thought, finding this to be an easy explanation to believe.

Legal experts and convincing liars often look exactly alike.

When Pat returned, I only saw him and spoke with him in passing.  As he resumed his use of Facebook, some of his posts were pretty dark and brooding.  It isn’t uncommon for people to jokingly say things like, “Oh my God, it was so awful!  I just wanted to kill myself!”  Something about the way that Pat phrased those sentiments online was different though.  There was an angry edge to them, as if he genuinely disliked himself and felt that he deserved physical punishment for his inadequacies.  I searched my beer hazed memories for any sign of sadness in the big quiet guy and I thought I understood a little bit about why he was so quiet.  Maybe he didn’t want to hang out with us anymore because being around people having fun just made him feel more alone.  It was a feeling that I could have related to only a couple months before meeting OJ.

I never saw Pat again, even in passing.  I think someone told me that he moved back home.  I couldn’t comprehend the disconnect between the guy drinking beer with me and the guy who very openly desired to hurt himself.  It showed me how superficial the bond between college drinking buddies can be.  I had two very fun nights with this guy by my side, and yet I didn’t learn a single thing about who he really was.  It wasn’t real friendship, just intoxicated physical proximity around a drinking game one night.

You can drink a lot of beer with someone without learning a single thing about them.

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14 thoughts on “Baker Act Pat – TBT

  1. Brantley. Your blog sends waves of nostalgia through me. Thanks for stopping by. Keep at your writing. You have an imagination and a command of the language. I’ll be looking in. Most of all, have fun writing. Lucy

  2. Tazzybehr

    Wow.

    You have some chops, dude (men over 30 shouldn’t use dude, but this man will…deal with it..LOL).

    I like your flow. Clearly, you have a bit more on the ball than some writers do. I look forward to ingesting more of your offerings as they make themselves available for public consumption.

    Keep up the scribes. They’re well done!

    • Thanks so much man. I really, really appreciate it. I know you posted this like two weeks ago, but it totally made my day and I keep going back to it and re-reading it.

      I’m pretty new to the whole blogging thing and I still have so much to learn, but I’m already blown away by the level of support and community on this platform. A little bit of validation goes a long way for writers and everyone seems thrilled to share some love.

      Stay tuned! I’ll try really hard to churn out two posts/week all through this year!

    • And college is full of so many brief encounters. I honestly have no idea what happened to the guy. I think he withdrew and moved back home, which hopefully was better (being near family). Of course, I can’t know for sure that he doesn’t have a horrible family situation.

  3. You do have a compelling writing style. Even though the situation with Pat is one that is probably familiar to many of your readers, the way you’ve created the atmosphere gives it a sense of newness. American college binge drinking is very different from the way Europeans gather in a pub or a cafe to share a drink and catch up on the news of the day. In the latter case, they’re usually not drinking to get drunk, but savoring the experience and the companionship (and, having mostly a group of people you’ve grown up with as the companions also makes a huge difference in the sense of community).

    Keep writing!

    • Thanks so much for the kind words!

      There’s a strange competitiveness to it in America (blame our capitalist indoctrination haha!). Seriously though, beer pong and flip cup and ring of fire were the normal means of consumption.

      Social drinking was something for people to grow into. After graduation, my friends and I always joked that our college drinking habits became alcoholism the moment they slapped that diploma in our hands and made us ‘adults.’

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