I see it in the lackadaisical eyes of masked teenagers, their zombified bodies passing by as I head to Brodie Gym for my weekly COVID test. Brown, blue and green windows to despaired souls tell of the pained destitution of a student body resigned to endless hours of playing skribbl.io with social organizations or sharing icebreakers with orientation groups over Zoom. Never before has the Duke community so needed a social outlet for their internalized anxieties, and never before have our campus bars been so inaccessible to so many.
I’m writing today because I’ve figured it out, and I’m proud to share my solution to the pandemic blues with my fellow Blue Devils: get drunk and walk around.
Think about it—are your best partying memories from being harassed in Shooters or struggling to breathe among the nicotine-filled air of the Devine’s patio? If you’re like me, the stories you now longingly recall on Zoom wine nights are the times you ran to Heavenly Buffaloes 10 minutes before closing, the beer in your veins shielding your senses from autumn’s oppressive wind chill. Perhaps you laugh about the roommate that ran off, taking a swim in the Central Campus pool at 3 a.m. after a birthday party, as you searched around their dorm for them. Or you remember your team of friends carrying a fallen comrade home, stopping to hold their hair as they vomit, and then marching onwards to East Campus. Ah, college.
I reached out to some friends to confirm that I was not alone in my positive evaluation of the drunken walk. Mitra Kiciman, a fellow Trinity senior, smiled as he recalled watching a video of himself falling down the stairs of his dorm on the way to a bar, and, on another night, puking in the East Campus gazebo. Mitra added that his favorite memory was how he “came across a traffic cone while walking on 9th street, and just took it.” He has the memento to prove it. I wonder, how many stairs are lacking bodies to bruise these days? When was the last time that the East Campus gazebo was covered in a Duke student’s vomit? Does Durham have a surplus of traffic cones now that less people are going out? These are the questions that haunt me at night—not any concern for the first-years “missing out” on the Shooters cage.
And why do we rely on these institutions—these unaccountable spaces, these aerosol factories—for our fun? We’ve fallen into a collective delusion that our happiness depends on places. Our sequential language around partying reflects this mistake. We’ve divided our conception of festive temporality into the “pre-game” and the “post-game.” Here I’d like to note that no one refers to their experience at a bar or club as the actual “game.” What if going out is really just about… being out? Could that, in itself, be the very game we aim to play in our drug-infused free time?
As I see it, getting drunk and walking around is a reminder that life, much like a weekend night on the town, is about the journey, not the destination. On any given night out, it is our disruption of our regular environment, our resistance against desensitization to private space, which creates joy and lasting memories. After all, one can easily drink beer in a dorm room or apartment, and certainly for a far cheaper price. And still we continue, like moths to a flame, out from our homes and into the city lights. Let us not mourn the loss of our traditional party spaces but instead adapt, as the resilient human mind has always proven capable of, to our new pandemic milieu. And here, adaptation means pregaming with your quarantine bubble and stumbling over to Insomnia Cookies or Cosmic Cantina, or just taking a few late-night laps around the quad.
No, getting drunk and walking around—that artful carelessness, a short-lived boozy panacea—will not solve the overwhelming social isolation we’re facing at Duke, nor can it remedy the viral disease that shrouds our planet in human suffering. It can’t solve the centuries-long crisis of anti-Black racism in this country, nor the pandemic-related recession that has caused significant job loss and instability. I’d even guess that regular alcohol consumption can harm the immune system’s ability to fight off virus complications. God, everything is terrible now. But getting drunk and walking around is pretty fun.
I’ll leave you, my faithful readership, with this: a recipe for my favorite drink, the Cosmopolitan. Combine 1 1/2 oz Vodka Citron, 1 oz Cranberry juice cocktail, 3/4 oz Triple Sec, and 1/2 oz Fresh lime juice. Garnish with a citrus peel. Pairs well with excitement for the endless possibilities of the night before you.
Jordan Diamond is a Trinity senior. His column, “diamond in the rough,” runs on alternate Wednesdays. He urges you not to disturb members of the Durham community in your drunken state, and to wear a mask, if you do decide to get drunk and walk around.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.