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Left Coast / Right Coast: Living on the Edge

Mike Gold doesn't recall exactly what got him to thinking about some of the truly stupid things he has done – especially when he was much younger. But he is sharing a few of them.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.

By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur living the dream in the Pacific Northwest.

I don’t recall exactly what got me to thinking about some of the truly stupid things I have done – especially when I was much younger.

But here are a few:

Bar Chairman of my fraternity: Somehow I wound up as bar chairman of my fraternity in my junior year of undergraduate school. Now the job was actually quite simple; make sure that for all parties the bar was stocked enough to supply alcohol to the brothers, visitors and their dates.

Now the drinking age back then in New York State was 18. So almost everyone in the frat was over that age. (I, of course, was not – until my sophomore year.) Now in NY State at that time, liquor was sold in many privately run liquor stores. But just across the border in Vermont, that state had state run liquor stores. 

Now this was way before Bernie Sanders became Mayor of Burlington Vt, then later on elected to the US Senate from Vt. I don’t know why but the prices for hard liquor in Vt. were 20% or so below the average retail price in NY State. (Perhaps in a portent of things to come in what was already a progressive state, before Bernie, they needed cheap liquor.) 

If you do the simple math; if I was going to purchase 30 “fifths” of hard liquor, saving an average of $1 per bottle, that is a savings of $30. (You have to “re-set” your relative values back to that era – when a dollar was worth a dollar.) 

Did that pay for three hours of my time plus gas costs to drive about 60 miles round trip to and from Vermont? Hardly. Another “minor” problem the drinking age in Vt was 21. So I had to either take an older brother with me, or have phony IDs (I won’t divulge which I used – although we are well past the statute of limitations). Plus, we typically purchased additional bottles for specific brothers for their own personal stock. 

Now here is the truly stupid part. I would drive back to NY State with all this hard liquor in the back seat of my VW bug. I’m still not certain of the legality of transporting hard liquor from one state to another. Plus, if there had been a stop by the police – one glance into the back seat would have been difficult to explain. Or worse, an accident. The car would have smelled like a still. Fortunately, I never had a problem.

Being kidnapped: Most fraternities used to have a “hell week” in which the pledges would spend several “all-nighters” cleaning the fraternity house. Three of us pledges were offered a ride back to campus on a Saturday afternoon after we were done. 

What we didn’t know was that these two brothers didn’t drive back to campus. Instead, they drove to Williamstown Massachusetts to that chapter of our fraternity at Williams College where we were unceremoniously dragged out of the car and the brothers took off back to NY. (Today that would qualify as kidnapping, a felony, but who’s counting.) 

We were offered dates for that Saturday night at a party. But all three of us had dates waiting back at school for a party at our own chapter. So we set off to hitchhike back to our own school. 

It was dark and after only a few cars one stopped. Turned out the guy was late to pick up his girlfriend at the Albany NY bus terminal (about 20 miles past our school). I also think he had been drinking. Not a great combination.

He set off (me in the front seat – with no seatbelt) at about 80 mph on a two lane country road. I was terrified. So I kept telling him, “watch out for the curve coming up” just about for the entire 40 mile trip back to campus. 

I actually think we beat the two brothers back who had kidnapped us. Because when we showed up at the frat house for the party, they were completely mystified as to how we beat them back.

Senior Hayride: The frat house rented a horse drawn wagon for a hayride. The idea was to get everyone drunk to enjoy the ride. I was so out of it I actually jumped off the wagon and for about a half mile ran behind the wagon until the driver figured out what was going on. He stopped and ordered me back onto the wagon. 

The “drinks” for that evening was what we called a “hairy buffalo.” You got a big tin and dumped any and all alcoholic beverages into it. Wine, beer, hard liquor, etc. All I can say is that the next morning I had the hang-over to beat them all. Every time I took a drink of water, a certain “buzz” returned to my body. 

That was about the time I stopped drinking (and I was on two varsity teams – and neither coach was pleased at my appearance at Monday practice).

Lots of other galactically stupid things I did including:

  • Shooting a good friend in the hand with my BB gun.
  • Running around on the roof of my frat house (on the gutter ledge – three stories up) when slightly inebriated.
  • Getting lost in a very poor neighborhood in graduate school – where someone threw a large rock through the windshield of my car – fortunately, not injuring me at all.
  • Several casual relationships – some of which did not end well.
  • Back while bar chairman – one evening taking hundreds of dollars in bar cash up to hide in my room - -and being followed upstairs by a very unruly looking tough hombre. Fortunately, I saw him on my way upstairs – so “faked” him into not knowing which was my room. It took a half dozen brothers to kick him out of the frat house.
  • While practicing my springboard diving one afternoon, I missed the pool entirely and landed on the concrete deck. Fortunately, I had great reflexes then and landed on my feet. No damage.

I guess I should stop here otherwise I will be up all night with nightmares.

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