Toss The Ball, Make ’em Drink

After years of responsibility have ground down your ability to enjoy life, you might have forgotten all the critical knowledge gained during years of being a liberated student.

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Ah, the days of youth. It doesn’t really matter if your college-aged days are right behind you or they’re already far into the past, that time all feels like eons ago. The final exams, the scandals and the hours spent scanning professor reviews on some website or another to make sure you got the best one, which really meant most lenient, was all for something. Among it all, who really had the time for homework at school?

It wasn’t all bad, though. There were the late-night transcendental discussions about why we’re here, the new girl or boyfriends and of course, the parties. Years before scooting off to school, leaving a pair of energy-sapped parents to finally live the life of which they’ve always dreamt, many-a-high schooler was earning their party stripes all in preparation for the big show.

And when that day finally comes with the first sticky ping pong ball in hand, it is almost as if time freezes and a whirl of fears, hopes and dreams flood the psyche of what the next four years —okay five, but that one semester spent studying abroad in Spain shouldn’t count—will bring. At once the ball is tossed, widely missing the big red cup. The crowd standing by registers a collective disappointment and another reputation is surely ruined for life. College then officially began.

After the initial shock of realizing that not everyone is a natural at Beer Pong has passed, new possibilities bring promising opportunities at drinking stardom.

Pausing, you ask, so what’s the fun part? They explain that it’s exciting because you drink after you fail—little did you know this will be a very valuable life lesson for the future.

Stacking blocks
One Friday night, a couple of friends ask you to join them at tiny local bar. Outside, there are people your age playing with large wooden blocks. They look a bit moronic as they build their tower and watch it fall over and over, but then you realize, nothing at college is lame, so you must be missing something. You stroll up and ask what’s going on.

They explain that they’re playing life-sized Jenga, where they first build a four-foot tower with many small blocks, then slowly remove the pieces until the structure fails and tumbles onto the concrete patio. The person who pulls out the block that causes destruction must drink a really big sip of beer. Pausing, you ask, so what’s the fun part? They explain that it’s exciting because you drink after you fail—little did you know this will be a very valuable life lesson for the future. They call it Drunga and you suddenly realize that some things in university can be as idiotic as you first thought.

Thowing coins and dealing cards
The next weekend a supreme hottie from English class mentions that they’re throwing a last-minute party at their campus apartment and you should come. Momentarily, you consider the fairly important biology exam in the morning, but suddenly you can’t think of any better biology class than a drunken, co-ed mingling, so you decide to join.

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Upon arriving and cracking open a refreshing cold one that tastes mildly of bitter water, you spot a small group of party animals bouncing coins into partially-filled glasses of beer. Most of the time the coins miss and go flying off the table, sending one of the pack off on the chase or else lose a precious 5¢. One bored participant notices you watching and asks if you want to give a shot. Sure, but what’s the game?

It called Quarters. It’s simple; try to bounce a coin into the cup. If you miss, you drink, and if you score, someone else must drink. The game seemed wholly unsanitary between the grubby hands and the dirty coins, but you must agree.

After a few missed tosses and a loose-eyed drunkard that keeps calling you bro shoves a warm beer in your face—chill out and drink this, bro—you decide to take your leave and cast off for new horizons.

Wandering, you spot your classmate and they wave you over. Your pulse quickens. As you cautiously join them, they appear to be playing some sort of card game, but with a strange layout. What’s this game, you ask.

It’s called King’s Cup, but some losers also call it Ring of Fire, too. Basically, we put an empty glass in the middle of the table and everyone pours a bit of their drink into it. Then, we take a French card set and spread them all, face down, around the glass. Each card symbolizes a different rule, but most involve drinking for some or all the players; here, look at this paper and you’ll get it. By the way, if you pick up the fourth king, you have to drink the cup in the middle.

The game seems fun, but truthfully you came to this party for biology, not statistics, so you leave the table. You walk around a bit more and later head home. There is a test tomorrow, after all.

Hydrating and thinking
About a week later, you’re sitting in the library with a study group pretending you care about why Reagan chose to revoke all of the most productive social security measures of the 20th century when a friend proposes halting the discussion and going to a bar. Everyone is elated except that one annoying girl who keeps going on about human rights.

Sitting down in a long booth to enjoy a bit of the High Life, someone proposes playing Drink While You Think. They explain that we should first choose a category, like US states, and if you have to think about the answer, you must drink while doing so. It’s simplistic, but it does the trick. On the upside, everyone was impressed by your knowledge of North Dakota’s statehood (wait, that’s really a state?).

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After growing tired of trivia, you finally offer a game of your own. Pulling out a pack of cards, you tell them this game is called Bullshit, or BS when playing with your grandmother. Dealing out roughly equal cards to everyone, you explain that the game starts with someone putting down an ace and then continuing in a circle around the table, climbing through the numbers until reaching king, at which point, the counting starts over.

If you have the right card, play it. If you don’t, play any card and lie. If someone thinks you aren’t telling the truth, they should yell bullshit! and if you were lying, you’ll now drink. If you were telling the truth, that distrustful new enemy of yours must then down a few gulps. The point is to get rid of all the cards, which you take care of handedly, as you cheat and scam all of your friends into oblivion.

Tossing cups and balls
Things go on like this for quite a while. Between playing all these games bent on intoxication and nursing hangovers, you’re running dangerously close to having to explain to your parents that you failed chemistry this spring and now you may have to go an extra term.

People might have a few bad things to say about you, but one of those things isn’t that you’re a quitter. So, when a pal from your 18th century German Poetry course mentions a Friday kegger, how could you decline?

The place is packed, making it difficult to locate your friend, so you take a lap. After walking for a bit, you come across a new game where people seem to be quickly drinking and throwing cups around.
Your basic inquisitive nature gets the best of you, so you get closer. Tapping one spectator on the shoulder, you ask if this is Armageddon? A creeping look of confusion, gives way to understanding and they explain: it’s Flip Cup.

Two teams stand on opposite sides of the table and fill large Solo cups with a little bit of beer for each person. Once the game begins, one person on each team quickly guzzles the beer and then puts the cup on the edge of the table. Giving the cup a bit of a flick, the goal is to cause it to do a flip and then land on its bottom. Only then, can the next person on the same team start the same process. The first team to drink and flip all the cups, wins.

The point is to get rid of all the cards, which you take care of handedly, as you cheat and scam all of your friends into oblivion.

You play one round, but the mountains are too blue, the beer is too cold. Your team loses and you’re berated mercilessly until you hang your head and disappear into the crowd. As you stroll, you hear growing cheers and sophisticated chants about one mother or another.

The human wall breaks and you slip in front to see your arch-nemesis: Beer Pong. Trying to slither away, someone calls your name. It’s your friend who invited you and he needs a partner. Eyes stare, social pressure does not permit individuality at this table.

Setting up the large cups—10 per side—into triangular formations, each team is given a chance to toss the ping pong ball into the cup of their rivals. If they are successful, the other team has to drink the beer from the cup holding the ball. That cup is then removed and then thrown back in the same way. Depending on the skill and technique of the players, this can take minutes to hours.

The game progresses appropriately to the point where each team has just one cup remaining. By now you have consumed enough liquid courage to taunt the audience. Holding the ball in your hand, you declare, good thing I paid attention in Physics. In one beautiful motion, the shimmering, white ball moves into a perfect arc, splashing into the warm beer of the final cup. Your teammate does the same. Victory is yours and the crowd goes wild.

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