An Older Guy Challenged Me

  John, an 18-year-old student, who was majoring in psychology with the intention of becoming a teacher for the handicapped, survived miraculously after having been challenged to empty a mug of vodka in one long swallow.  Although he had not as yet retained full recovery when he narrated his foolish adventure, he had a great concern for college students who are often tempted to show off.

     People who knew him would say John always acted like an intelligent human being.  He had no daredevil tendencies.  One day, however, despite all the intelligence he was suppose to possess, he almost killed himself by overdosing on alcohol, it was an act of sheer stupidity, he admitted, which would not be expected of him.  Bragging about his ability to drink and act like a sober man, John did not realize he was playing with death.  He was lifting his mug to his mouth when he was challenged to show how well he could hold his liquor.

     “An older guy challenged me to a game of chug-a-lug with vodka,” he explained.  So they went up against each other, drink for drink.  The bystanders were cheering at the time, some for one contestant, some for the other.  “Since a lot of my pals were rooting for me,” he confessed, “I felt I had to win.” And, forgetting all about the price he was paying for his silliness, he kept on drinking until he passed out.

     “The last thing I remember,” he said, “is blacking out.  I don’t recall leaving the room or walking down the stairs or going outside or collapsing on the sidewalk.  All I know is that I woke up in a strange room with tubes sticking out all over me and I was having a terrible time breathing.  Four strangers were standing by the bed trying to tie my hands down to keep me from ripping out the tubes.”

     John had been in the intensive care unit of a hospital for two days already when he woke up.  A nurse, who was one of the four people standing by him, now told him that he had been in a coma. Then his mind began to put things together.  Hear the rest of the story:

     “I then recognized my parents.  They lived eight hours by car from the college and had driven all night when the hospital authorities called to say I had been carried in and was in a critical condition.  The shame of putting them through so much hell is something I will have to live with for the rest of my life.

     “Thank God, I am young and strong and a fighter.  To be considered legally drunk, the blood alcohol content must register .10.  The lethal measure is .40.  My reading was .54.  The doctors said it is nothing short of a miracle that I am alive.  I never thought this could happen to me, and I’ll bet thousands of college kids who are reading this are telling themselves the same thing.  Take my word for it, it can happen to anybody who drinks one after the other, loses count, and goes crazy.

     The doctors said the alcohol entered my body so fast that I didn’t feel or act drunk until I left that room.  I’m still not totally okay.  The nerves in my eyes were damaged, but we don’t know how severely yet.  My memory and coordination aren’t 100 percent and may never be.  We have to wait and see.  Let this be a warning to other kids who might want to show off.  It’s a big price to pay for being the center of attention.”

Roanoke Times & World News