Before Women and Booze

by Christian Bryant

A few weeks ago, YES! Weekly Editorial Intern Eric Ginsburg and I were sitting around the office poking fun at the mundanity of our less demanding assignments when we launched into a discussion about our childhood memories, before women and booze came into focus. Both of us are in our early twenties and have few responsibilities as is, but it was easy for us to think back to times when we had even fewer obligations and very little care for adult activities.

I remember riding my bicycle like a madman, possessed of absolute enjoyment. My bike was a yellow, orange and crimson 10-speeder that looked like a flame as I churned my legs. I would grip the handlebars and laugh wildly as I scorched the neighborhood streets in search of the next hill. If I wanted to get really fancy, I would let go of the handlebars and throw my hands up in adoration for the fun times that were had by very simple means.

I vividly remember my childhood and like many of my friends, I was carefree, ambitious and easily impressionable.

Age gave way to delinquency as my friends and I searched for more ridiculous ways to entertain ourselves. I remember playing an amended version of “ding, dong, ditch” that involved a laser pointer; the kind with the stern warning sticker wrapped around its cylindrical shape.

We were ballsy and chose to perform our routine midday. One of us would approach the front door of a townhome while trying to muffle an uncontrollable snicker and crouch down. The others would hide a good distance from the residence and position themselves to get a good view of the home. The person closest to the front door would ring the doorbell and then find cover nearby, so not to be spotted. Once the door opened and the resident emerged, the person with the laser pointer would bombard the victim’s eyes with a small red beam of focused laser light. We would watch the person swat at the light as if it were a gadfly and laugh hysterically, totally unaware of the harm that could’ve been done. We didn’t care. We were just little punks trying to have mischief.

As I grew older, I grew a bit more reckless. In high school, small-potato delinquency gave way to vandalism as a new set of friends and I decided to do some hardcore egging. Three of us bought nearly three-dozen eggs and piled into my car, wearing all-black attire and determined to wreak havoc on the suburbs of Greensboro.

We drove from neighborhood to neighborhood violently leaving runny eggs splattered across mailboxes, parked cars, moving cars and front doors without the decency of even attempting to take a breakfast order. The most glorious moment was when we pulled into a cul-de-sac and targeted a single house. One of us let an egg fly through the sunroof of my car but then lost it in the pitch-black sky. We waited for a moment, heard the unmistakable splat and then peeled off like bats out of hell.

Times have drastically changed since then and indiscretions have successfully yielded to responsibilities. It’s a Thursday afternoon and I’m stalking members of the Forsyth and Guilford county delegations to the NC General Assembly. It’s drudgery, but Pop Quiz duties beckon and I resort to uncanny tactics to reach state representatives: I listen to the House session via audio stream to get information on bills and to pounce on unassuming politicians as they head back to their respective offices after an adjourned session.

Now, I’m not the most biblically astute, but there’s a verse that describes this point in my life. It reads, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11, King James Version). The fact of the matter is that I’ve never let that inner child go. That same ambitious boy who would ride his bike while laughing hysterically still lives through a more mature version of himself, only this time, I’m riding a new set of wheels. I’m still carefree, when appropriate. I’m more ambitious than ever and I’m just as impressionable as before, influenced greatly by my colleagues.

Even though my spare time is now devoted to professional aspirations, the companionship of a woman and sloppily poured draft beer, a hard day’s work is a bit more enjoyable when I conjure those feelings of my childhood and the times before women and booze. I have a tight grip on the things that make my life enjoyable, but I still let go of the handlebars every once and a while just to get fancy with it.