I still vividly remember the first time I got drunk. It was my 21st birthday. I didn’t have much money to celebrate or much to celebrate about (even though I should have, for some strange reason I always thought that I would never get to see my 21st birthday). I left secondary school few months shy of my 17th birth day and by my 17th birthday I was in Bida, Federal Polytechnic Bida to be precise. Once my dad found out that I hadn’t made the cut off marks to get into university. he made a few phone calls. It turned out one of his clients (an advertising agency) was opening a paper mill in Bida and had contacts there. A few more phone calls and I found myself Bida bound with two of the partners.
I still remember the journey, both partners were in their forties and were huge, a bit like me now. It was a brand new Peugeot 504. I found myself stuck in the middle with hardly any leg room. An hour into the journey I started to suffer from cramps but was too scared or maybe timid to say so. Another two hours into the journey and one of them noticed my discomfort and suggested that I stretched my legs between the two front seats, the relief remains unexplainable.
We got to Bida and checked into their guest house, it was an unpainted building on the outside with a dirt road but was well furnished on the inside. They had this great cook from calbar who made the most delicious meals. Few days later I was taken to the Rector’s office and offered a place to study for an OND in mechanical engineering. I said yes. By the end of the week my dad arrived and was not happy with the course I was offered. The following Monday we drove back to the Rector’s office and my dad without an appointment got to see the rector.
I remember telling my dad that he wouldn’t see us let alone offer me a place to study accountancy, that he had told me that there were no more places left. My dad said to trust him and that he wasn’t “grey for nothing”. We got there to find his waiting room packed with over 20 people seated and another dozen waiting to be seated. My dad handed his business card to the secretary and 5 minutes later we were ushered in. A minute later the rector handed me a few forms to fill while he chatted with my father about his accountancy practice and how he coped managing the Jos branch while living in Lagos.
Nigeria is a strange place, as much as it’s a “man know man” kind of place, it’s also a place where you must always and I mean always carry yourself like you are somebody. I would spend a year in Bida and end up not getting my OND. The reason is a story for another day.
Enough with my Bida story, this is about me getting drunk for the first time. Like I said, it was my 21st birthday and I was broke. Luckily another friend shared the same birthday with me and was doing something on that day (It was a Sunday). We got to Lekki beach as it was known then just shy of 2 pm. By 5 pm I was lying face down in the sand after 5 or 6 bottles of “small stout and a few swigs of brandy. I was helped to the car by one of our female friends.
The next day I had my first full hangover, it felt like I had been in a fight. It was horrible and should have been a lesson not to ever drink like that again or even drink at all. That lesson was lost on me. I would go on to have a few more drunken incidents, one of which was at a wedding where “Commander” Ebenezer Obey played.