YPSILANTI, MI—Due to outside influence and unforeseen events, the having-one-beer plan that 29-year-old Keith Flemming devised at the outset of Monday evening went awry.
"This is a one-beer night," Flemming told his friend Sam Galveston as the two approached their usual booth at Fitzgerald's Tavern. "I wanna be in bed early, so I have time for a quick drink and some laughs, but that's it. I'm not going on a tear or anything."
Flemming, a sales representative for a boutique food packager, ordered a round of Bud Lights at 7:30 p.m. As the two friends drank their beers and discussed their summer-vacation plans, Flemming was well-positioned to meet his goal of being in bed by 10 p.m.
Shortly before requesting the check, however, Flemming briefly placed Galveston in charge of the itinerary.
"I gotta take a leak," Flemming said. "You know what they say about beer: You don't buy it, you rent it."
While Flemming was in the restroom, Galveston ordered a second round for the pair, thus causing Flemming's plan for the evening to go slightly askew.
"Well, I can't let this to go to waste," said Flemming, holding the beer up and chuckling. "After this, though, I have to get out of here. I gotta be up at 6 in the morning. Big day. Inventory."
Had events not conspired against him, Flemming could well have finished his second beer and still arrived home before 9 p.m. His plan was thwarted, however, when Gary Greely, a longtime acquaintance of Flemming and Galveston, approached the booth.
"Gary! Long time no see," Flemming said. "I gotta take off soon, but let me get you a beer first. We got some catching up to do."
Two hours and an unforeseen buyback later, the early-to-bed plan Flemming had established at the beginning of the evening was in serious jeopardy.
Flemming purchased "one last round" for the table at 10:35 p.m., but in order to get home for his revised bedtime of 11 p.m., Flemming drank the beer in 10 minutes—an act that caused further wavering in his resolve to leave the bar.
"Guys, I really should get going, I guess," said Flemming, slurring his words. "I really should probably… I got something I gotta do tomorrow, something at work early."
Flemming stood and began to gather his belongings and say goodbye to his friends. Greely, however, began to chant "shots," and the plan for the evening went off-track again.
"No Jaeger, though, man," said Flemming, returning to his seat. "Last time I drank Jaeger, I was hung over for days. No way."
"All right, but if I puke, you're cleaning it up!" Flemming added.
The three finally said their goodbyes and parted at 2:00 a.m., whereupon Flemming completed his evening in a manner wholly unanticipated—by vomiting, drinking several glasses of water, and falling asleep fully clothed on top of his covers.
"I only went to work today because I couldn't miss inventory," Flemming said Tuesday morning. "I don't even remember getting home last night. I know I didn't drive, because my car wasn't around this morning. I guess I took a cab. Christ. Honestly, that's the last time I do that. Next time, I'll go to the bar and hang out, but I'll just have a soda."