The Most Epic St. Paddy's I've Ever Had
By J. L. Thurston
I was nineteen and on my own thousands of miles away from parental supervision. I was in Los Angeles, attending college at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. The school was small, enclosed, protected by a tall fence and a single- usually inept- security guard. The school itself was the bottom three floors of a tall building, the many upper levels were some sort of office. The grounds were tightly packed and the grass was held down to the earth with a desert-defying mesh.
Bungalows lined the far perimeter, the boys’ dorms known as the Ivar House was closest to the outer street, and my apartment building sat mostly in the middle. This building was by far the most interesting off all the residences. Four apartments, one with all boys, one with all girls, and two full of anti-socials I never got to know. My five roommates and I were in legendary Apartment B, which was said to have been rented by Marilyn Monroe at some point. It was, in my day and probably also in Marilyn’s, a hot spot for parties.
Wednesday parties were casual. Weekend parties were wild. Drinking, smoking, running around, and featuring my electric green hookah before the night was over. Everyone at my school- and I mean everyone- partied often. The classes were divided into two years, two groups per year, but we all blended together. Especially when booze was involved.
There was one guy in my year who was twenty-one, so he was the supplier. His name was Jared. Nice guy, except he rented A Bug’s Life from the Los Angeles Public Library on my account and never returned it. I stole a framed photo of his dog and held it for ransom until the debt to the library was repaid. He never paid it (and I owe them $75 last I checked) and I threw his frame away. But I’m getting off-topic.
God, I loved those Apartment B parties. We’d get trashed and roam the city like wild animals or play ridiculous drinking games. We were all student actors, so things got weird in a hurry. I would elaborate, but that’s a story for another time.
It all boils down to the most epic party I ever had. The best of the best, the #1 on my Memory Lane Playlist for Wild Times.
It was St. Paddy’s Day, 2006. Most of us threw our money at Jared and sent him to Save-A-Lot with instructions to get as much as possible. He returned with gallons of the world’s cheapest vodka he could find. To get a more Irish vibe, somebody managed to fill a shopping cart with Guinness and wheel the entire thing right passed the security guard at the gate and up to our apartment building door. Somehow that cart made it inside Apartment B, but I don’t remember who hauled it up the stairs.
Everyone is Irish on St. Paddy’s, but I drank more like a Russian that night. We sat in a circle and took shots of vodka like it was the only liquid in the world that could sustain us. I lined up nine shots and put them away professionally. I was ready to enjoy my life and I knew booze would get me there. But sitting around with nine shots of petroleum disguised as vodka, I was disappointed in my lack of buzz and made my way downstairs for a smoke.
I think I was almost to the last step when the building did a back flip. I sat for a bit with my head in my hands, waiting for death, when another student found me. I don’t remember his name, but he offered me chew. I’d never had it before, and what the hell, it was a night designated to health-inhibiting substances, so I put some chew in my mouth, swallowed it, and proceeded to puke on the stairs.
It was super minty.
Somehow, I made it up to Smoker’s Hill. It was the only designated smoking spot on campus, a cruel joke to the lung-impaired as it was a steep climb to reach the picnic table at the tippy-top. I collected more souls on that hill and brought them to Apartment B for more debauchery.
By then the music was thumping, barely masking the upbeat sounds of fiddle and tin whistle from Boondock Saints on the DVD player. Just to be an ass, someone had boiled potatoes. We ate them over the kitchen sink while I taught my favorite roommate to smoke a cigarette through her nose.
I don’t remember anything we talked about, but I remember laughing so much it hurt. I remember dancing, selfies before they were actually called selfies, and filling the air with smoke.
I blacked out, as I often did in those days. I came to on the sidewalk outside my apartment building. It was almost dawn. I was with one of my other roommates, Crystal. I can’t remember her nickname but it was stupid.
She was giggling her ass off, which wasn’t unusual as she was one of the biggest stoners I’d ever met. Apparently, she found it hilarious that she’d broken her ankle and was trying to find someone to get her to a hospital.
The gang and I assembled, but after attempting to perform field sobriety tests in the parking lot- three yards from the security guard, mind you- none of us could be deemed sober enough to drive.
I don’t remember what happened to Crystal after that point. Maybe someone got her a taxi.
It wasn’t much later that we were all scolded for playing hide-and-seek in the parking lot. Of all the things that went down that night, a childhood game played in public at the crack of dawn was where security drew the line. So, did we let that dampen our fun? Did we go to bed? Hell no. We broke into the school, went into the basement, broke into the Stage Combat classroom, and fought with swords.
No one died.
For no real reason at all, we finished the night by stealing every roll of toilet paper from the offices above our school and kept them in Apartment B.
The sun came up and found me with a hole in my sock, a sea of empty cups and bottles flooding the apartment floor, and someone was asleep in the bathtub.
I sat on my bed, leaning out my bedroom window, exhaling smoke into the dawn. I watched the automatic lights to the Knickerbocker switch off. It would be hours still before the sounds of traffic disrupted the rare peace of the city. No one in LA rose before ten, and that’s law.
Did I know at that point that I had just experienced the greatest party of my life?
I sure as hell did.