I should have just lied.
But instead, I froze like a tongue to a flagpole when questioned about the beer bottle found on my desk.
They asked me: Did I bring an empty Killian’s bottle into my dorm room, or did I instead drink in the dorm room?
The lie, which my fianc? came up with before the disciplinary meeting with my hall director, was a solid one. I’d say it was the first beer I drank on my 21st birthday and thus it held deep, personal significance for me. Hell, to pull off the charade, I could have even shed a tear and ask to have my keepsake returned.
My first mistake, however, was forgetting the clause in my Residence Hall Policy Agreement that expressly prohibits displays of empty alcohol containers in my room. Being the great legal mind that I am, I tick-marked my initials to the form without even reading it. (The Warren County Bar Association is probably quaking in their alligator shoes at the thought of having to match wits with me one day.)
So I had to tell the truth and sheepishly confess that I had been drinking a beer in my room. I told them that I figured I could make a take-home history test go a lot smoother with a buzz that night. So I had one beer. (For the record, I got an A on the question I wrote under the influence and a B-plus on the section I wrote the next morning.) Honestly, I just blanked and thought telling the truth would just “be a good idea.”
My reward for telling the truth was a ticket to the March 30 showing of Housing and Residence Life’s production of “Alcohol 101,” starring 21-year-old me and five other guys whose ages ranged from 18 to 19. At least they had cool stories to tell to our group of would-be alcoholics. Some told stories of having rowdy parties in their dorm and being drunk when the long arm of the HRL law snatched them.
All I had to say was:
“Hi, my name is Hollan Holm. I’m over 21. I’m here tonight because I left a beer bottle in my dorm room over spring break, and when my hall director asked me if I had been drinking in my room, I told the truth.”
That statement reaffirmed my status as a dork. I even sullied the name of my beloved Democratic party by wearing a John Kerry campaign T-shirt while I said it. The only way the whole evening could get worse was if someone I knew saw me there.
Well, right as our educational experience in “creative discipline” was to begin, a fellow student with whom I shared the aforementioned history class walked in looking for police academy training or something. I couldn’t make it out, because as soon as she saw me, she pointed at me and demonstrated that she knew my name by yelling it out and laughing at me. My comrade reminded me of the outside world – she lived life on the outside of that HRL Pit of Hell Conference Chamber, on the side of law and order. I, on the other hand, was a rebel; a prisoner twisting in The Man’s air-conditioned wind. I figured I would catch flak for our chance encounter in class the next day.
After she left, I attempted to curry some “street cred” with my fellow inmates when our facilitators/wardens asked how much we drank on an average night. I blurted out, “a half a fifth of whiskey,” which I had imbibed once and regretted.
But this was not my usual practice, and I could tell that my peers, with their stories of drinking beer by the case, could sniff me out for the lightweight I really was.
I don’t really know the purpose of sending me to “Alkies 101.” At least I didn’t have to write a letter home to my parents explaining my indiscretion. I did, however, have to take an alcohol myths quiz. (I am confident that if given the chance, my anatomical and alcohol-related trivia knowledge would have allowed me to test out of the whole hour-long ordeal.)
But if I had to guess, the message of my wardens was that of “choices.” For me, being 21 and all, I feel the key choice was whether to tell the truth or just lie when confronted with a ludicrous university policy.
As you can guess, the moral of this story is: never tell the truth.
Hollan Holm is a junior history and political science major from Paducah.
This commentary does not reflect the views of the Herald, Western or its administration.