The other day, on a Tuesday, shortly before the noon hour, Bert Kreischer splashed a bit of Peachtree schnapps into a glass of orange juice, topped it off with some vodka and thought he’d probably skip class. He was a student at Florida State University, in Tallahassee. Florida State had recently been named the Number One party school in the nation by an organization called the Princeton Review. This fact had been trumpeted all over the nation, in radio reports and on television. College-bound kids everywhere pricked up their ears. All of a sudden, they thought maybe they should go to Florida State and enjoy the kind of life that one might enjoy at the Number One party school in the nation. The kind of glorious life, in fact, that Bert Kreischer, age 24, an English major, had already been leading for many years now.
Bert yawned and scratched at some of the stubble on his chin. He stuck a finger into his drink, tinkling the ice cubes floating around there. He thought about the day. If he didn’t go to class, he’d play Frisbee instead. In the early evening, he’d hoist a few beers here at home, then hit the bars until some o’clock in the morning. Tomorrow, maybe he would go to class. But without doubt, he’d be drinking again by around sundown. Hopefully he wouldn’t black out. Odds were against his blacking out, because he hadn’t in a while. Then, looking forward in time, Bert saw Thursday evening — a great big bash on his back deck, with a live band and lots of beer. And Friday evening — getting soused wherever. And, finally, Saturday — he’d be superloaded before, during and after the football game. Beyond that, into the further reaches of adulthood, he could not see. Why should he? He was deeply into the moment of now. He’d structured his entire existence — in which he always seemed to be vying for the honor of being the top partyer at the nation’s top party school — around this moment of now.
Hutch strolled in. Hutch was one of Bert’s three roommates. He was a tall, rangy, happy-go-lucky marketing major. Hutch said, “Oh, man, what a day! This is the most beautiful day I’ve ever seen!” He plopped down on the couch, laughing. “Hey, Bert, I made it to class today!” he shouted. “That’s the first time it’s happened in like a month and a half. When I walked in, I was like, ‘What the hell?!’ I couldn’t recognize half my classmates!”
Bert snorted, rubbed his forehead and said, “God, it was one of those nights last night.” He picked up the phone. It dangled in his hand while he stared off into space. He was wearing Birkenstocks, tan shorts and a white shirt. He looked a bit like the actor Jon Cryer, only with a good number of extra pounds tacked on. He had a man’s hairy chest and belly, and a happy, round face that sometimes flushed to a bright pink when he was especially excited. He loved to laugh and crack jokes. In fact, he was the most comical guy lots of people at Florida State had ever known. He could also be highly, raucously obscene. He’d twice run for office at his fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega. The first time, he made his big campaign speech in the nude and lost. The second time, he dropped the idea of a speech; instead, he appeared before his brothers in the nude and took a crap on a pizza box. General bedlam ensued. He won by a landslide. These days, however, that triumph was not one he so willingly recalled. He’d grown some since then. He was in his sixth year at Florida State. Sometime soon he just might graduate. He didn’t want to, necessarily. But it was a possibility.
“Who am I trying to call?” Bert asked. It could have been his lovely girlfriend, Kristen; his concerned dad, Al; his easygoing mom, Gege; or any one of his pals. He couldn’t remember. A warm fuzziness spread across his forebrain. He shrugged and put the phone down. It had, indeed, been one of those nights. Then again, when was it not one of those nights?
Thirty thousand students attend Florida State University. According to the statisticians, these students, most of them native Floridians, enter the school with an average verbal SAT score of 580 and an average math SAT score of 590. This suggests that they aren’t the best and the brightest in the land, but neither are they the thickest. Mostly they’re the kind of students who attend good public universities everywhere. In the end, great numbers of them choose to major in criminology, communications and psychology, and not many fewer lean toward business, engineering, nursing and hotel management — which at Florida State is known as hospitality, as in, “Hi, I’m a hospitality major!” Basically they’re good kids with stable political outlooks. According to university officials, most of them are also quite serious about getting a good education and do attend class regularly. That being the case, these officials were chagrined to learn that their institution had been named the nation’s top party school, an award based on the results of a survey that asked students about drug and alcohol use, hours of study each day and the popularity of the fraternity system. Certainly the school had its partyers, even its problem partyers, but that’s true of all schools. Plus, there’s so much more to Florida State than parties. There’s the Seminoles football team, which last year ranked Number 3; there’s the marching band, the Marching Chiefs, which is the country’s largest; etc.