In honor of the marathon I will be running this weekend (my second), I figured I would share one of my odder encounters during college – and that’s saying something.
It was senior year and I was training for my first ever half-marathon. Things were going fairly well with the training, which involved routine runs just across the street from UCF’s campus.
I was in the home-stretch of a routine 5 mile run when I noticed a guy jogging on the other side of the road, which was grass rather than sidewalk. It was two lanes each way with a large median between, so I had to squint to confirm that this college student in beast mode was running barefoot like a boss. Beyond his sturdy feet, which I’m sure possessed Hobbit-like resiliency, he impressed me with his pace as he pulled out further and further ahead of me. I wasn’t racing him by any means, so I let him fade into the sunset with no further concern.
When I caught up to him again, he was doubled over puking. I was nearing the end of my run and I had half a bottle of water left, so being the good samaritan that I am, I crossed the road to check on him.
They say that humans are about 60% water. Well this fellow was 60% vodka instead, so I suppose he wasn’t a human at all. I asked him if he was alright and he was still drunk enough to insist that he was, but he accepted the water anyways and thanked me. As we walked away, he told me about his fun day drinking at the pool on campus with the bros. Several yards away from the vomit, I began to suspect that his sweat, breath, and skin were a stomach-churning 150 proof based on the Pig-Pen like cloud that he seemed to be living in. I couldn’t help but picture him dissolving into a puddle of Skol lighter fluid like that Senator in the first X-Men movie.
But he felt bad about cutting my run short, so with all of the pleasantries out of the way, we started jogging again. Seeing as how he would probably be dead from dehydration pretty soon, I let him set the pace. We were going slow enough for me to carry on a conversation with him, which back then meant that we were running slightly faster than the ground beneath our feet.
“I’m jogging home!” he announced to me. My own house was coming up soon, so I wondered if he lived in my neighborhood. He didn’t. Instead, he lived off of Dean Road.
I don’t expect that to mean anything to you, so allow me to explain.
That’s like 5 miles away, running along one super busy road, crossing it, running down another super busy road, crossing that one, all the while hoping that the soles of your bare feet are pale enough to persuade the insane drivers of Orlando not to splatter you into Jello shots with their cars.
He was drunk enough that I didn’t mind stating the obvious, “That’s a long way, man. Were you planning on running that?”
“Yeah dude. It’s fine. I’ve run like 10 miles before and I was even drunker than this.”*
“Do you want me to call someone to pick you up?”
“Nah dude. I lost my phone at the pool.”*
“I could call you a cab.”
“It’s cool man. I’ll just run.”*
* I’m assuming this is what he was trying to say, but he was a once-in-a-generation talent at slurred words so I’m not 100% sure.
I didn’t know this guy well enough to get aggressive about his intoxicated well-being, so I stuck to my manners.
“Well, this is my neighborhood. You should at least swing by and let me give you a bottle of water or something.”
He thought that was a cool idea, so soon we found ourselves in my kitchen. He was throwing back glasses of water like it was the saddest happy hour in the world.
With his Vodka Body Mass Index or VBMI (if this isn’t a real thing, it should be) down in the 55-58% range, he decided to take me up on the offer to use my phone. Luckily for him, a phone number was accessible to his brain through the haze of a black out drunkenness. Unluckily for him, that number belonged to his boss. He left a strange voice message. It sounded like one very, very, very long word.
I asked if he wanted to try again, and the liquor figured it wouldn’t be worthwhile. I didn’t have money to call him a cab, but I offered anyway. He declined, seeing as how his wallet was with his phone, probably off somewhere planning an intervention for him.
I offered to drive him home if he promised not to puke in my car. Being the stand up guy that he apparently was, he refused to make a promise he couldn’t keep.
With an abundance of “Tankyuuzz,” “Thansssmanns,” and “Baies,” and the bottle of water that I gave him, he staggered up the street, out of my neighborhood, and out into the world again.
His boss’s number was in my phone, so I called and left a voicemail in English. He never called back though.
Seeing as how I read local newspapers religiously the following week and found no article about a human-shaped vodka vessel being hit by a car, I have no idea what happened to him. I have to assume that he made it, whether it was that night or the next morning after he woke up in the bushes and then continued drunk-running home.
I feel pretty confident that nothing bad happened to him, because local news in Orlando lets us know anytime anything bad ever happens to anybody in Central Florida in the most terrifying fashion imaginable. That is, of course, between our Casey Anthonys and George Zimmermans.
I told this story to some friends when we were tailgating a couple months ago. The general consensus was, “You’re a much better person than I am. I would have given up on that guy way sooner than you did.”
I guess that’s a good thing.