October 10th was a sad day. It was then that MillerCoors stopped bottling Zima. Actually, I thought they must have stopped making it years ago because I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw a bottle of it. But, oh the memories I have of Zima.
Christened a “queer beer” by my contemporaries, and perhaps rightfully so–as the first time I can ever recall going to a gay bar, it was as prolific there as sequins on a drag queen. I prefer to think of it as a run of the mill girly drink, something akin to Bartles and James wine coolers. It tasted like a heavy, alcoholic Sprite, and the thing to do was drop a Jolly Rancher into the bottle for added color and flavor. In the days before I could handle my liquor or afford a decent bottle of Pinot, actually, in the days before I could even legally purchase anything alcoholic, Zima was, for a short time, my drink of choice. Fairly cheap, palitable to a naive tongue, and in a cool looking bottle that made it seem more chic than Boone’s Farm, the first several times I got drunk were probably on Zima. (Save for one night of Rum and Cokes that ended with me on a trampoline at 3 AM).
Let’s step into the Vinyl Villager’s wayback machine and go back to my senior year in high school. My friend Snaggletooth’s parents (not his real name, but appropriate since he had some seriously amateur looking caps done) had a lake house. Adults hear “lake house” and imagine a respite from the everyday stresses where work, bills, and the performance of one’s 401k can be forgotten. High school students hear “lake house” and imagine a parent-less place where all rules and curfews can be forgotten.
We had a day off from school…I can’t recall if it was Martin Luther King Day, Columbus Day, or what–but it was one of those bank kinds of holidays. So four of us, in our infinite wisdom, decided to go get plastered at Snaggletooth’s lake house. After somehow convincing the mother of a classmate none of us were friends with to buy us a case of Zima, we set off for the lake.
Now, before I go any further, I should introduce and give a little background information on the folks who were part of this evening of debauchery.
There was me of course. I’d had the good sense to advise my mother that I would not be home that evening. There was J, who had always been a good girl who did what her parents expected. For whatever reason she hadn’t prepared her parents for the possibility that she would be out all night. There was S, who has appeared in several of my stories of childhood mischief. In high school, S drove a big old two-tone green Ford LTD and that night his mother thought he was staying at MY house. And there was Snaggletooth, who shared the lakehouse and a place in town with his elderly parents and an equally snaggletoothed dog that was about as old as we were. These are all important facts for later.
So, at the lakehouse we quickly innebriated ourselves on the feloniously obtained Zima. We splashed in the hot tub until our hair froze, played music too loud, and generally had a good time. At some point around midnight, J realized she was not getting home that night, and went inside to call her parents.
“You all be real quiet…” she warned, “I’m gonna call mom and dad.” She went inside, locking the screened door that separated the hottub patio from the living room. An eternity later, or–in drunk time, thirty seconds, I had to pee. I hopped out of the hot tub and pounded on the metal screen door to be let in. J shot an icy look and pointed to the phone in her hand.
“I gotta pee!” I said, in that loud, screaming whisper that drunks tend to use. She unlocked the door.
“Oh, the door was just locked…” she said into the phone. No doubt in answer to the question of “What the hell is going on there?” When I came back through from the bathroom all I heard was J shouting into the phone…”It’s a gated community and even if you could get in, you wouldn’t know which house I’m at!” She was in big trouble and her dad was threatening to go door to door to find her. I’m not sure what else was said, but at the end of the call, her dad was no longer threatening to search the lake, and she needed a drink to calm her nerves.
Soon, we all passed out. Snaggletooth and J in one bed, me in a basement bedroom, and S, fully clothed, in the middle of the living room floor. At some point in the middle of the night, the phone started ringing. Snaggletooth answered it, apparently it was S’s mom, who had pieced together in the wee hours, with help from my mom, where we were, and was NOT happy about it. Snaggletooth attempted to wake S, and when he had no luck, just left the phone lying beside of him. It rang again and again, until we were all awake except S. Finally, we roused him enough to take her call, and as she threatened to ground him and take his car keys, he shouted “Fine! Just take the big green thing and shove it up your ass!” and hung the phone up, passing back out on the living room floor.
Now, J and i had to be at work the next morning at 8AM…it was an ugly scene dragging ourselves out of there wearing the same clothes we had fallen asleep in. S was riding with us, and we were barely awake enough to note that HIS clothes were now in a pile in the floor, and he was wrapped in little more than a knitted afghan. It wasn’t until some time later that he confessed that, at some point in the night, he had stripped off his clothes and pissed himself in the middle of the living room carpet. It was, perhaps, a year before this tidbit was shared with Snaggletooth, whose mother had put his aged dog to sleep after walking into a piss-scented lake house and determining that the poor thing had become incontinent.
If only they’d stopped making Zima more than a decade ago, that poor pooch might still be alive.