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A Knockout Punch

December 7th, 2009

When I was in college at the University of Oregon, autumn meant one thing: barn dances. Each year, my sorority held its annual “Barn Bash Spectacular,” which was basically just a fancy way of saying “drunken dance party held in a freezing cold abandoned barn.” It’s a pretty good time when you’re a 20 year-old Communications major with low self-esteem and a Toni home perm.

Each October, after all of the “Who’s taking who?” drama was over and most everyone had dates lined up, we’d kick off the event with something called “tapping.” Tapping begins with the entire sorority house learning a very special barn dance song. For example, one year I wrote “Come to the Barn Dance with Me” to the tune of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” (Best line: “Red punch, yellow hay, green puke—no!”) All 150 girls would then get liquored up, put on our newly purchased flannel shirts and drunkenly charge through campus to serenade our lucky dates. It was just what our parents dreamed we’d do when they sent in our huge tuition checks each semester.

The day of the big dance, we’d spend hours on our hair and make-up, then eagerly wait for our dates to show up. Then we’d all board the “buses” that would take us 50 miles out of town to the party barn. I say “buses” because the only ones we could afford were giant dilapidated hunks of green metal owned and operated by scruffy 60’s burnouts with names like “Rainbarrel Joe.” These guys would trail the Grateful Dead around the country for most of the year, but each fall they’d stay in Euguene and shuttle sorority girls to parties. Not only was this a great way for them to make money, but the more enterprising drivers also took the opportunity to hunt for magic mushrooms in the forest while we were partying. We always prayed really hard that they wouldn’t eat the psychedelic ones until after they drove us home.

Since sorority parties technically didn’t allow alcohol, our dates were in charge of smuggling it onto the bus for us. Most guys either did this with a bota bag or a flask, but a few geniuses (which includes most of my dates) would just bring a wine jug with the label peeled off. Tricky! Inside the various containers was something cleverly called “Party Punch” that we’d happily chug all the way to the barn. Of course, “punch” is probably overstating it a bit because the recipe was usually just: “Fill jug with 190-proof grain alcohol. Add cherry Kool-Aid for color.” By the time we finally reached the barn, we’d all have bright red mustaches, random hickies and absolutely no feeling in our lower extremities. That’s probably why so many people spent the entire party passed out on random hay bales.

My favorite barn dance ever was my senior year when my date was my now-husband Chris. As the two of us snuggled together on the bus, romantically competing over who could slam more of the Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers we’d hidden in our parkas, our rather angry bus driver, “Colonel Cannabis,” stood up and yelled for everyone to shut up. “Now listen here, all you smooth-skinned punks,” he growled in his professional pot smoker’s voice, “this here’s MY gig and I DO NOT want you to fuck it up, okay? The rule on my bus is ‘YP, YP.’ You puke, you pay! Now shut your yappers and let’s get on the road, you morons!”

For the next hour, as Colonel Cannabis gunned his rickety green bus through the dark Oregon forest and blasted Country Joe & the Fish, seventy college kids bumped up and down on the springy, broken seats, guzzling nasty red punch and chanting at the top of our lungs, “YP, YP! You puke, you pay! Don’t fuck up his gig! Don’t fuck up his gig! Woooo!”

Twenty years later, it’s still the best time I almost don’t remember.

______________________________

And speaking of punch, here is my mom’s secret recipe. (Luckily, I didn’t have to go see “Mamma Mia” with her to get it, but I did have to apologize to my father for voting for Dukakis in ’88.) It’s not a very fancy recipe, but my parents have been married for over 47 years, so it must live up to its name:

Mindwiper Punch:

3 1/4 cups of vodka
2  cups of gin
2 liters sprite
2 large cans of pink lemonade

Mix together. Drink up. Don’t remember anything.

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40 Comments

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  • 1. Lisa Rae @ smacksy  |  December 7th, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    I love a happy ending.

    I want “YP YP” printed on my pre-school classroom mom apron.

  • 2. hokgardner  |  December 7th, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Man did I miss out in college. I never did anything like this – ever. Maybe I should have joined a sorority after all.

  • 3. Candy  |  December 7th, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I didn’t know we went to the same school!!

  • 4. DG at Diaryofamadbathroom  |  December 7th, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Sounds like the Everclear parties we used to throw. Complete with same named grain alcohol, tons of cut up fruit and ice with one jug of punch and lots of red cups. The key was to soak the fruit in the grain alcohol over night, then fish out the powerful bites of strawberry and watermelon from the bottom of your cup after you finished your drink. Good times. Good times.

  • 5. Kate  |  December 7th, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    My rule was never go to a party that you can’t leave, and this one would definitely qualify. Ever since I went to the Fiji Island Party with Jon “Too Many Hands” F and couldn’t figure out how I was going to survive being on a bus party with the date from hell. Just last month a fraternity brother of his apologized to me, 30 post party. Amazing. I had fun at school, but you created the FUN – hilarious.
    Just last week I had my first student throw up in class – YP, YP. New house rules.

  • 6. Jeffrey  |  December 7th, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Resume Item:
    : Social Director of Men’s Fraternity, SHSU College! What has it gotten me?
    14 years of being in the USN. (The USN has a wonderful fallback option to being the Social Director of a Men’s Fraternity.)
    Ability to throw awesome parties (provided I have a bathtub, 6 bottles of Everclear, fruit and some shade of a colored powder to get it a drinkable taste)
    (Flash forward 29 years) Opportunity to be in charge of office holiday parties (pain in the ass with bickering about “Sunshine Funds”)
    A chance to pass it along to my children.

    But when your fat and 47 and reliving scrapbook memories of a life past while watching Dora the Explorer with your daughter and wondering why Boots has such a command of the English language… well priorities change.

    BTW, Dora has a new special. DoraGirls. Your little Dora is hanging up the exploration business and will begin to solve problems relevant to tweens. Just when I thought our family was going to out grow her!
    Damn you Nickelodean, Damn you!!!!

  • 7. Surfie  |  December 7th, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Gee, it’s a shame you didn’t record that song of yours. Oh, if only YouTube had been around then!

  • 8. DM  |  December 7th, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    God, sometimes I miss drinking. And then other times I rmember playing spin the bottle with the hottest guy ever (who was actually into me) and almost throwing up on him. Yeah, that never went anywhere.

  • 9. Gretcheng  |  December 7th, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    College is so wholesome. I missed the whole sorority thing because I was a a weirdo drama major. Instead of wholesome activities like barn dances, we were having gatherings like the Annual Suppressed Desires party. Interestingly, the refreshments and activities at both of our parties seem to have been much the same.

  • 10. Kirsten  |  December 7th, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Ahhhh, sweet memories. I once fell in a cactus patch after a party we had to hike up a big hill to get to. Lucky for me the boy I was walking with broke my fall. We spent the next hour in the ER having the needles plucked out. I don’t remember any of the pain.

  • 11. arulba  |  December 7th, 2009 at 11:54 pm

    That sounds vaguely familiar although I don’t recall my sorority days all that well. The same thing happened with McKinsey associates during business retreates to Palm Beach and Cancun and wherever else. I remember being on a school bus (wait … why McKinsey Associates would rent a school bus I have no clue). Maybe I’m mixing up my memories. But I do remember singing drunken party songs with McKinsey Associates on a bus far more than I remember what happened on buses during my sorority, everclear days. :)

  • 12. Laura  |  December 8th, 2009 at 5:08 am

    This story was a great trip back in time! I didn’t even recall bota bags until you mentioned them! God, maybe I need to hit that punch a little…

  • 13. Lisa  |  December 8th, 2009 at 5:37 am

    Mindwiper Punch is now the new way I can get my kids to sleep.

  • 14. Cara  |  December 8th, 2009 at 6:13 am

    Thank you for the recipe. Christmas is coming and I am going to need it – Mother-in-law…

  • 15. Wendi  |  December 8th, 2009 at 7:18 am

    Mindwiper punch…let the holiday season commence.

    Ahhh, sorority parties, I had my share of fun at them. Nothing as cool as barn parties for us at UMBC but we made do with what we had. The irony is that ten years later, I had to tell the collegiate women that no, you can not drive your cars to the party. And no, you can not have a pre-social. And no, you can not bring booze on the bus that you and your dates have to take. And no, you can’t get a room at the hotel for formal. I don’t know if the rules changed after I graduated, if we never knew about them, or if we just ignored them. If I had to guess, we probably just ignored them.

  • 16. Wendi  |  December 8th, 2009 at 7:21 am

    Wendi, you and The Kitchen Witch seem to be sharing a theme today.

    http://thekitchwitch.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-holidays-suck-493.html

  • 17. Laurie Kreitzer  |  December 8th, 2009 at 7:31 am

    I like the extra 1/4 cup of vodka, that must be the mindwiping part.

  • 18. ann  |  December 8th, 2009 at 7:56 am

    I didn’t realize you were a contributor to “Pledged”

    At least this romance worked out.

  • 19. TheMom  |  December 8th, 2009 at 8:35 am

    The four best words of advice that I can give on college parties is: Don’t Eat The Fruit. Ignoring this advice will cause bad, bad things to happen.

  • 20. MommaB  |  December 8th, 2009 at 8:50 am

    I think I remember a few parties like that, but they did not occur in a barn. It was more like a basement. Anyway, it sounds like a really (un)memorable time!

  • 21. Lottie Lou  |  December 8th, 2009 at 9:15 am

    Think I’m going to schedule a couple dates and drink Mindwipers pre-pickup. See you on youtube.

  • 22. Ashley, the Accidental Olympian  |  December 8th, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Oh lord have I been there!

    The best song and dance I ever pulled together was a lovely number to the tune of Big’n Rich’s “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.”

    Except I thought it was much more hilarious to change it to, “Save a Horse, Ride a Frat Boy!”

    There was much gyrating and nonsense incorporated into the dance moves of course because really, what’s a slutty frat song without some air humping?

  • 23. Mwa  |  December 8th, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Sounds like the parties we went to when we were 16/17, in Scotland, with vodka in water bottles. By 18 of course booze was fine over there.

  • 24. Jennifer  |  December 8th, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Omit the gin and add a bottle of beer and you get what we like to call Hop, Skip and Get Naked!

  • 25. Patty  |  December 8th, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Oh, Gawd.

    This makes me think of an evening, rather fuzzy around the edges, wherein I tried a nauseating brew known as Purple Jesus, which consisted of lots of Mateus Rose mixed with vodka in a plastic trash bin.

    Also hovering at the edges is the knowledge that I also inhaled, as well as swallowed, a mixture of recreational substances.

    What I really remember, though, is the next morning, trying to read the labels in a supermarket with only one focusing eyeball and running into my arch-Nemesis from high school and her WONDERFUL new husband.

    I gotta mix up a batch of that Mindwiper Punch RIGHT NOW.

  • 26. Aunt Becky  |  December 8th, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Ah, the good old days.

  • 27. Jessica  |  December 8th, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    i have alot of fun times I also almost dont remember and many I wish I didn’t

  • 28. Cassie  |  December 8th, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    YUM! Thanks for the recipe!

    And, you are the kind of girl that knows how to have fun!

  • 29. Lulu and Moxley's Mom  |  December 9th, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Oh Barn Bashes!!! How I miss them! Date parties in general. When else in your life are you not only comfortable asking a guy out but going to his place of residence and singing while doing it? That in itself required more booze than the actual barn dance itself.

  • 30. Chris Mancini  |  December 9th, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Bartles and Jaymes?! That brings me back. How about White Mountain coolers? Remember them? Flavored beer!

  • 31. Michelle  |  December 9th, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Wow Wendi! I didn’t realize that we were in the same sorority!

    Did you go to the annual get-wasted-and-go-Mudsliding-into-a-freezing-river-in-Nov, and the Bonfire-in-the-recently-harvested-cornfield too?? I’ll be we could swap some great stories about those pictures we had to explain to our tuition check writing parents!

  • 32. redgirl  |  December 10th, 2009 at 3:17 am

    Ha! I love this…I laughed so hard I woke sleeping people >:D

    Aaah, let’s see…only one big par-tay I went to in college. Halloween house party where I was sadly disappointed in the lack of reality to live up to my expectations. None of the boys could hold their *pure grain whiskey* and I couldn’t leave whenever I wanted to.

    Now I’ll be content with biking past fraternity houses at 1 in the morning while becoming near-drunk off of the alcohol fumes leaking onto the street.

  • 33. Lisa  |  December 10th, 2009 at 8:40 am

    Where the heck did you go to college? Sounds like where I went to college. There were cows, barns, tractors, farm land and boom…right there in the smack middle of all of it — a college. It was weird.

    Well, anyhow, sounds like you all had some redneck fun and since I come from a very redneck area, I salute you! (With my non-alcoholic beverage because I’m a wimp who has a sip of alcohol and goes into a bought of rapid heartbeats and then passes out.)

  • 34. Invader_Stu  |  December 11th, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Colonel Cannabis sounds great.

    He totally sounds like a Scooby Doo villain who would dress up as a ghost pirate to scare the ‘smooth-skinned punks’ away from the barn dance because he’s secret mushroom farm was hidden underneath it.

  • 35. Candy  |  December 11th, 2009 at 9:59 am

    Now I remember why my nickname was Mop.

  • 36. Allison Zapata  |  December 11th, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    :)!!

    I totally would have hopped on for the rest of The Dead tour!!

  • 37. Jen  |  December 12th, 2009 at 6:05 am

    I love the last line of the first paragraph. You crack me up. You have got to love the college years and the fact that we all survived. Thanks for the recipe.

  • 38. Maria Butts  |  December 12th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Nice to see you still stayed with Chris and your Toni home perm!

  • 39. Kate Coveny Hood  |  December 21st, 2009 at 8:15 am

    My college was in the Bronx and nowhere near hay bales – but much of this sounds pretty familiar. I think that some college traditions are universal. College coeds…keeping it classy since universities began admitting women…

  • 40. ellemck  |  February 1st, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Think this will help me forget spoilers from my favorite tv show that I didn’t want to see and yet they were shown to me? I need to forget them before tomorrow… ;)


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