Like any red blooded american teenager, I had my fair share of run ins with underage drinking. Surprisingly enough, the very first time is easy to recall. I was fifteen and sleeping over my friend Jess's house. (The ‘sleepover’ antics seem to be a reoccurring theme in these posts. I think I’m going to have to keep a very close eye on my daughters in the future.)
Jess had her license and we picked up some older boys and headed over to the 7 eleven. (Yes, small town. That’s where we hung out. Stop laughing) One of them broke out a bottle of southern comfort (I said stop laughing) and we mixed it into our grape slushies. Breakfast of champions.
Drunken scenes have been slipped into literature since the Fiddler on the Roof sang ‘La Kayim!’ and understandably so. Adding alcohol to the mix can diminish a writer’s inhibitions on the page about as well as in real life.
Bad & sad things can happen when people drink. But good and funny situations can derive from a ‘night out on the town’ as well. How many times have I read a scene that featured the MC waking up next to the guy she swore she’d never date? Or having too much champagne and sticking her foot in her mouth?
Alcohol allows a writer to explore a situation, a character, or even gives them an excuse for their mc do something completely out of character in order to move along the plot. Many a blogs have debated the ethics of featuring substance abuse in YA and if you're interested, Punk Writer Kid had some interesting things to say on the subject.
I don’t usually do this, but all this talk of drunkenness makes me daring. So I’m posting an excerpt from my recently finished manuscript where one of the characters is 'under the influence'.
* * *
The metallic car came to a stop and swayed as Avery got in. She felt the cold metal through her jeans as she scooted over to make room for Scott.
“What the hell, man!!??”
Avery looked up, startled by a commotion near the ticket line and then jumped back as a muscled body pushed his way into the passenger car.
“Keep the change!” Craig barked at the carny with the backwards cap. The man frowned but looked down at the long line of tickets in one hand and shrugged, closing the compartment door behind him. Avery caught a glimpse of Scott’s angry face as the machine lurched forward and they were pulled out of sight.
Her jaw hung open. “What the HELL Craig?”
Craig turned towards her and burst out laughing. “God, you should see the look on your face,” he snorted.
Avery’s eyes widened. “Holy shit, you’re drunk.” She threw her hands up. “Un-believable.”
Craig’s dark brown eyes were slightly out of focus and his smile wide. “I am not. We just had a few beers out in the parking lot.”
She wrinkled her nose. “You smell like you fell into a keg.”
“Thank you.” He leaned in and sniffed her hair. “Mmmmm. You smell like…apples…and vanilla.”
Avery cracked a smile but caught herself and grit her teeth. “That was a real jackass maneuver you pulled back there. Scott has good reason to hate you. And so do I.”
“Do you?” Craig’s smile faded into a friendly pout.
“Well, what do you expect Craig? You’re like a walking, talking, breathing hypocrisy!”
Craig leaned back, throwing one of his legs over hers. “Yeah, No. I’m not following.”
Avery rolled her eyes and pushed his leg back over to his side. The car continued to bring them higher into the air, the carnival lights spanning out before them in all directions.
“Ugh. You try and build this image of mister muscles for brains, when, truth is, you have real interests. You have your own mind! I just don’t see why you’re so ashamed of it.”
Craig stared forward, his head wobbling with the movement of their car. “I’m not ashamed of it Avery. I can be whoever the hell I want to be. I can have….interests.” He paused and swallowed hard, his eyes closing for a moment. “And not have to tell everyone about them. Jesus, I’m not like you. I like to keep some things to myself.”
Avery folded her arms. “Whatever.”
“Yeah, whatever.” He leaned his head on her shoulder. “You’re warm.”
Avery stiffened. His hair was silky soft against her cheek and she couldn’t help breathing in the familiar scent of his shampoo. His breath warmed her skin. “Mmmn, why do you have to smell so good?” He brought his lips to her neck. Avery’s skin tingled and her body grew warm in response. “Craig.”
“Avery.” Craig continued to place wet kisses on her skin.
“Avery….” He buried his head in her hair and grabbed her thigh, his mouth nibbling and sucking on the spot above her collar bone.
“Craig!” Avery dug her nails into his hand and pushed his chest upwards. “Knock it off! Seriously, this is about to turn into an afterschool special. Now get your freaking drunk ass OFF ME NOW!”
Craig’s head hit the back of the metal bench with a thud. “Ouch.” He frowned and rubbed it, eyes closed. “Jesus Avery.” His full lips pouted. “Why do we always gotta fight all the time?”
“Because you are a dumbass stuck up hypocrite that’s why. Tell me, is getting drunk part of your master plan to ‘becoming someone’? Because it seems like a real loser thing to do.”
Craig’s chest rose in a heavy sigh. “Hey, every guy’s gotta let off a little steam,” he gave a half smile. “Look at you, being all judgmental for a change.” He sat up, his eyes focusing in on her face. “Tell me, why do you think I need to tell everyone about Yale, and my grades, and all that anyway? What’s it to you?”
Avery frowned. “I just don’t get it, that’s all. You should be proud of who you are. I think a boy who works hard at what he wants….” She sat up straight and looked him in the eye. “..someone with ambitions and a good head on his shoulders is a lot more interesting than some domineering jock.”
Craig searched her features. “Do you?” He brought a hand up to caress her hair. “Avery, I…..” He frowned.
“I think I’m gonna be sick.”
“Oh. That’s just wonderful.” Avery’s voice flattened. She pushed him against the backside of the bench and then scooted into the opposite corner. “Just don’t move. Breath. And I swear to God if you puke on me, I’ll throw you off this thing.”
Craig smiled, his eyes closed. “I know you want me Ave. Just as much as I want you. I can feel it across a crowded room.”
Avery blew hair out of her eyes.
“And for the love of God, please stop talking.”
Avery blew hair out of her eyes.
“And for the love of God, please stop talking.”
I love the last line!
Oooh...awesome excerpt! Really, I'd love to read more, and your characters are great. And thanks for the link, I'm going to check it out.
missV! (Sorry, I'm just used to calling you that now.. You can still call me creepy.) I couldn't get onto your blog because my antivirus software freaks out every time and apparently there's a virus going through people's comments.
Great scene. I think you've made your point about alcohol and youths. I think it's important as a YA writer to make underage drinking not seem wonderful. I've had friends that have died in drinking and driving accidents. Teens need to know that it's no joke.
I enjoyed this scene a lot.
You made a good point above. I'm going to have to keep a closer eye on these sleep-overs my daughter is always going to ;)
Very funny, and great voice! I think it's fine to have underage drinking in your story, as long as they also see the consequences and what could happen.
This scene was incredibly fun to read! Love the humor, and the characters' voices are so real! Thanks so much for sharing!
I loved this! I Read faster then I thought I could! I can sense the tension between the characters, lovely work here Kd.
But Im still rooting for Scott!
PS:Alcohol + slushies = Coolness lol
"You smell like you fell in a keg" I think several people have felt this way, or smelled a friend with that same description, LOL.
Great story, great post! I do remember the good and the bad times with alcohol. I will have to watch my children as well, but I'm sure they'll make the same mistakes I did!
Ahh... alcohol! Such a rite of passage in our culture!c
The last line made me laugh out loud. Cheers! ;)
Great post! Love your excerpt, I want to read more. ;) 'alcohol allows a writer to explore a situation.." - I agree, thats a great point.
Ah! You just made me recall my first drunken experience. Very similar to yours, except we had Malibu Rum. To this day, that coconut smell makes me queasy.
Loved the post.
Heehee. Great post. I never had drunken sleepovers, but there were some moments when I had to escort drunken friends home. lol.
Great exerpt too. :)
You're right to include this.
As much as parents would like to stick their head in the sand, alcohol and teens will always be found together.
Obligatory situation, I agree.
Engaging reading, absolutely.
Such a rite of passage in our culture
great excerpt! def can't wait to read more! :)
oh southern comfort... blech... i remember cracking a bottle of that with coke, but when the coke ran out, my friend and drank it with water... i haven't touched the stuff since.. or rum... or tequila... oh dear god I may puke at the memories...
Love the energy!! Hey, you 7 Eleven...me, Cumberland Farms (or as we called it Cumbies.) ??? Small town.
I really like Avery!! So much tension!!
We hung out at 7 Eleven too!!! lol.
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