Octopus holding Kraken bottle, bell curve

The Diving Bell and the Octopi: Lessons in mathematics and inebriation

This is not another story about some douchebag getting drunk and running from the cops. Okay, it is. But it is also a story about alcohol, and calculus, and the combination of the two. You must forgive me if some of the facts on here are a bit squiffy, you will understand in a moment.

Anybody who has ever engaged in the sport of inebriation is likely familiar with “the blackout”. It is a time when you toss your brain into a chemical-based submersible and unwillingly dive bomb that bitch into the inky blackness. Neither light nor memory escapes. Now, there are decent folk who know how to take that sub to cruising depth and keep it there, but others are all too familiar with the experience of waking up with a mouth-taste like a pack of menthols and two forties made sweet, sweet love near their tonsils. Not every trip to the briny depths is a one way ticket, though. In fact, certain experienced submariners report periods of blackness followed by sparse memories in an event they call, for some reason, “browning out”. But I do not think drinking related memory should be held up to the color wheel. I think it should be measured in depths. I think it can be measured on the upside down bell curve.

Sub (Hello Darkness)
Get in, your brain is going to pound town

To explain, let me begin with a field analysis. It is Myself, C, and E. (Names have been edited to protect the employable). The three of us are leaving a party themed, coincidentally enough, “black out or get out” wearing all black. We are more than a little drunk. We are deep sea diving. There is no Stolichnaya in us, Budweiser would not survive at these depths, we have indeed been dragged here by the Kraken. There is a message inside every bottle of Kraken rum. That message is “Help me, I’m drunk.” That explains why we’re partway into a three mile walk when I notice a police car halting well before a stoplight to our right. He is doing the cop creep, which, for the uninitiated, is a left to right sweeping of the wrist with a flashlight in hand. It is the cop version of the Miss America wave. It is never a good sign. The cop is riding a standard line. The standard line looks like this.

Standard Line
True Life: I chased a kid for a snickers bar once

I must take a second to explain the status of our group. E is a-go. E is upright, forming full sentences, and is in no danger of hull damage. C, however, has been stomping on the hoods of cars. C is at critical depth. C is the darkness. C is riding the deep curve. The deep curve looks like this.

Big Curve 2
College was not a gentle experience for my liver

As for me, I am certain mathematics put me a reasonable depth. But then, I am also a communications major. Furthermore, the tattered backpack and halfway-unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt I am wearing do not necessarily make me look like a boyscout. We all share eye contact and decide to do what is logical; we scatter like cockroaches.

Diving Bell 2
This isn’t where I parked my car

I am deeper than previously anticipated, both for the purposes of this extended metaphor and legally speaking. I am now darting across a major intersection into a business plaza. The cop car stops mere feet behind me, unable to continue down this narrow corridor. Ford lights are throwing my drunken shadow across corporate beige bricks as the officers get out of the car to attempt foot pursuit.

As I am about to hop the first of many fences, I hear a call: “I’m going to shoot!”

That statement right there is where you may stop believing this story. That’s fine. Sometimes I don’t believe it either. But unfortunately for all parties involved, that is what my brain maintains occurred at this time. No matter what you  believe, by this point the cardio and latent Kraken have taken their toll. To accurately describe this moment, let alone the rest of the evening, is to attempt to wrestle clarity from the clutches of the darkness itself. I assure you there is running. There is more fence hopping. There is me spooning a dumpster as if I’ve just taken it to date party. There is me peering out from cover to see the two men searching on foot. There is me hopping the fence into somebody’s yard. There is fresh blackness.

Upon future inspection, I am riding the sine wave repeatedly past the memory line. The sine wave looks like this.

Sine Wave 2
The “W” is for winner

If we are to torture the sub metaphor for just a while longer, I like to imagine the few blips of the evening that do show up on the radar as a conversation between a sub commander and his first mate. In this situation, the fore brain is the captain, and the hindbrain is the first mate.

Captain: Update?
First Mate: Sir, the paranoia meters are through the roof
Captain: Why?
First Mate: Can’t say, sir, but we appear to be hiding under a large truck.
Captain: We’re not authorized to be in this territory! Dive! Dive! Dive!

Sphinx 2
That’s my bad, guys

Some time later

Captain: First mate, where are we?
First mate: Well sir, we appear to be in a residential bush of some sort.
Captain: Front yard?
First mate: Back yard.
First mate: Sir?
Captain: I’m not trained for this. Nobody here is trained for this. Commence dive sequence.

Much later

Captain: I’m afraid to ask for this update…
First Mate: Systems reading normal sir, appear to be handing a pack of Djarum Blacks to a homeless man.
Captain: Welp, all this seems to be standard protocol. Can I get an equipment update?
First Mate: Minor cuts and scrapes on the hull, sir. We’ve lost the backpack and these pants are ripped to oblivion.
Captain: (pinches bridge of nose) The paperwork for this is going to be a nightmare.
First Mate: Should I dive again, sir?
Captain: Affirmative.

It’s on a family plot, right next to my last shred of faith in humanity

The sun is coming up now

Captain: What are we doing?
First Mate: Watching Mtv unplugged, sir.
Captain: With who?
First Mate: E, sir.
Captain: No, I mean who’s playing.
First Mate: Cake, sir.
Captain: Hmm. Cake is… Cake is pretty good.
First Mate: Yes, sir. Cake is pretty alright.


But Rick, you may ask, what is the point of this story? Is it a cautionary tale about carrying only a snickers in your backpack? Is it a commentary on the ephemeral nature of memory and the past? Is it an exploration of the foibles of youth? Surely you wouldn’t end this grandiose piece with something petty.

Oh, but I would, dear reader. For “brown out” is not the proper term. Brown is not black with a little more light in it. Grey is black with a little more light in it. Brown is a dirty mixture of whatever paint (in this case, memories) you had left on your palate indiscriminately thrown together; a mixture of colors from all across the spectrum. Where are those errant pigments coming from? Other memories?  I’m not an expert on cognitive function, but I’ve never searched the murky memories of my previous evening only to find hints of my first handjob and the plot synopsis of Jumanji mixed in there for flavor. So what I’m saying is this: If you’re going to get hammered and paint with all the colors of the wind anyway, you owe it to us all to find a creative way to tell the story.

Now go out there and make some happy accidents
Now go out there and have some happy accidents

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