Brussel Sprouts and Jelly Babies

The Initation Ceremony: A rite of passage. And a bloody good laugh.

Alcohol Apolcalypse Now Ballare Cindies Drinking Drinking Societies Facebook Initiations Jelly Babies Mahal Slippery Nipples the tab

Last time’s feature received a mixed response: ‘Tamed’ was confused by ‘the addition of a small rodent’ in the Slippery Nipples’ manifesto, but ‘Walter’ – if that is his real name – was keen to see the Slip Nips in Ballare (reports are yet unconfirmed as to whether he met his celebrity idols – we’ll keep you posted). But I thought I’d forgo the Facebook expose this week and instead reveal the dark underbelly of the initiation process. Having been initiated myself this week, some of my details will be straight from the chunderer’s mouth; (although my memory is sketchy at best). Writing this might well turn out to be a cathartic process, helping me to overcome whatever traumas might yet remain buried in my subconscious.

I harboured no illusions. I’ve seen Apocalypse Now. I was going to ‘Nam, and I knew I might not come back. Loved ones were informed of my call up (Mother: ‘A drinking society, darling? Can’t you just go to the pub? We can’t afford rehab what with your siblings’ school fees, you know.’) and flatmates were warned that my return home might not be a pretty sight. I conscripted a trustworthy male friend to ensure that a return home would actually happen. I drew the line at emailing my DoS to warn her that my academic progress might take a knock after I obliterated several thousand brain cells; whether this has happened is yet to be seen, since I am yet to actually attempt to start any reading for my dissertation. (Dissertation, shmissertation. Right?)

Within ten minutes of arrival – be-costumed for the ‘Back to Skool!!!’ bop that we had to attend post-initiation – I had downed a glass of some pink liquid whose saccharine qualities belied the quantities of alcohol contained, and a can of Sainsbury’s Basics Lager (cheap, yes; agreeable, no). A raw onion was passed around to cleanse the palate. I felt myself gag for the first time that night.  Soon gagging became as natural a reflex as blinking. There was a straw-pedo race. I lost. I downed two shots. Here my memory stops.

Now we must rely on Facebook once more to fill the gaps where my – possibly still – intoxicated mush (sorry, mind) fails me. There are photos of mouths full of sandwiches in various stages of mastication. I forget my filling – though I do remember burbling ‘I’m a vegetarian so don’t make me eat any meat, no meat, no meat’. There are photos of star jumps. There are photos of post-star jump debris. I definitely stuck my face in some flour in an effort to locate the sole jelly baby floating in its midst. Flour is not that nice, on reflection. Apparently I was very up for the bobbing-for-brussel-sprouts-in-custard, a cute twist on the more conventional – and appetizing – bobbing for apples.

Next up, the Mahal – the eminent drinking society’s water-hole of choice, because it’s cheap and anything goes. My sentbox informs me that I send four messages during the hour I spent at the Mahal, one to my confused – and by now quite worried – flatmate composed in a language that certainly hasn’t been invented yet. Texting seems to be a default drunk reflex; as do emotional conversations. Apparently I had several. Disclaimer: just because I was drunk when I told you I loved you, doesn’t mean I don’t. I do. Of course.

I have no memory of the bop, just the numerous addresses of ‘oh, hello Phoebe, and how are you feeling this morning?’ as I crawled to the smoking area – still drunk – the next morning to confirm that I did actually attend the college’s premier social event. Luckily, friends stepped up to the task – well, apparently – and brought me pitchers of water and stopped me from leaving a trail of destruction.

Obviously there were a few casualties: I lost my purse, my coat and my dignity. But hell, call me institutionalised (a year at Cambridge might well do that to you), call me a mindless drunk, call me whatever you wish (there’s a space for comments at the foot of the page, as some of you keener-eyed/keener-for-an-argument Tab-devotees have noticed – go mad), but initiations were hilarious. I defy the argument that a drinking society is a group of mindless drunks, too pissed out their respective boxes to have an iota of a brain cell left. Hey. Less of that. I suppose being that publicly drunk is a bonding experience: my nurse-maids for the evening claim they were endlessly amused by my antics – although they might just be very polite. And our initiators may have got us battered, but the general consensus was it was a bloody good night out. This is a public thank you for ensuring I didn’t end up in the Cam/A&E/the Porters’ Lodge being ‘tended to’ by the scary Porter. And I didn’t have to buy a single drink all night (making up for the lost purse almost entirely).

Next week, we begin the rating system. Up your game, ladies and gentlemen – where will your drinking society fare?