True Tales from the Liver. Episode One: Full Russian

Ah. To be a drinking game creator. You’re not going to be the one to spend years making a booze game unless you’ve cracked a few eggs in your past. And by eggs, I mean braincells... So, we’re starting a blog segment where every now and then we or I will drop a true life story from our sordid past.

Here’s a story about that one time I went full Russian and nearly paid a heavy price for it. (TLDR summary at the bottom!)

Making A BoozeGame episode one: Full Russian

2013. Kazan. Russia.

Why I was in Kazan I can’t tell you yet, because I want to keep some level of anonymity for now... But what I can tell you is that it was what you might call a work trip, that I was broke, and that I was with our main man Gustavo (now head of business analysis and project management here at The BoozeGames).

Gustavo was less broke at the time. Hell, the man was rich by my standards, possessing a whole $130 Australian dollars in his bank account.

And on this particular day it was time to get drunk.

We stormed a local convenience store and cross referenced our funding for the day. Limited. This prompted one of my more brilliant ideas:

“Man, we’re in Russia. We have to drink vodka,” I said.

“OK.” Said Gustavo.

“Let’s just get the two cheapest bottles of vodka we can find, and they’re not allowed to have any English on them whatsoever,” I continued.

“OK.” Said Gustavo.

We soon left the local convenience store with 2x600ml bottles of vodka with only Russian text on them. We proceeded to drink those bottles in the carpark outside, and, naturally, we started a carpark party with some passers-by in the process. The alcohol was disgusting, pure rocket fuel, but beggars can’t be choosers and you better believe we enjoyed ourselves.

The afternoon escalated and soon and the bottles nearly dry, so we joined some of our colleagues at a different bar, where upon arrival we were force-fed multiple vodka shots. When in Russia, right?

We would soon end up at a nearby nightclub, where we were gifted more free vodka. Lovely. The drinks continued to flow. Beers to wash it down. As you might be able to guess, we were already beyond blitzed at this point. We were battling on the Eastern Front. Everyone's got their Stalingrad.

At 1.30am our ‘work’ had set a curfew, and being the law-abiding honest citizens we we were, we returned to report for the curfew... Shortly after which we sprinted back out of where we were staying and into the night.

The night continued apace, but alas, memory brain cells had long since been purged by that Russian rocket fuel, so all I am left with is a flash. A flash of having a beer and three lit cigarettes in each hand, and trying to imbibe them all at once while stumbling around a dance floor. Poetry in motion.

The night proceeded as nights do and we eventually got a lift home at about 6-7am with a grumpy taxi driver who was less than pleased at the fact we could only pay with credit card.

We had a work meeting at 9am.

I woke at 8.55 and ran to the bathroom, immediately beginning to sweat. Not a pleasant sweat, mind you, but the sweat of a man about to be ill. I looked in the mirror and a ghostly face stared back, but battle is no time for vanity, so I ignored the reflection and the wave of nausea setting in, splashed some water on my face, got dressed, and ran downstairs to where we were all to meet before walking over to our meeting. 

I opened the door outside to the rendezvous point I spied the bosses, the team, and Gustavo.

Then my vision went black.

It felt like a headrush; like when you stand up too quickly and you lose vision for a few seconds. Not to fear. My intestinal fortitude was strong. I knew roughly where Gustavo was standing and worked my way over to him and slumped down against a railing I felt nearby.

But my vision was not coming back.

The minutes dragged on.

Eventually, some 10-15 minutes later, a nearby voice I identified as the boss's said: “ok let’s go.” 

I was still blind, and now starting to panic.

“Gustavo, I can’t see.” I said.

He laughed. “Cmon man, let’s go, you’re fine.”

I heard footsteps and his voice moving away as he spoke. 


I heard the footsteps changed. The next voice I heard was that of the boss.

“Ok, let’s get you to a doctor.” He said.

Fuck. Later, I would be informed that at this point the team was surrounding me, looking on in disgust and awe. I would be told I was ghostly pale, drenched in sweat, and looking quite generally scared and confused. Everyone had realised the situation was serious.

Gustavo told me to follow him. I asked how. So he took me by the hand and he, myself, and our boss went to find a doctor while the others continued on. Fortunately for us, there was a doctor within striking distance… 

… But before we got there another emergency hit. An unmistakable feeling hit my gut: I was about to shit my pants.

I also felt like I was about to throw up.

“Fuck. Is there a toilet? I’m about to shit myself,” I said. I had been blind for about 30 minutes by this point.

Was this it? Was I blind now? What the fuck was going on? I was thinking. My mind was a mess. Gustavo laughed and led me to a toilet. I heard him open a door.

“In here,” he said.

“Where!?” I replied.

“Mate I’m not goin to fuckin take your pants off and wipe your ass for you,” he said flatly.

Right. Ok. Fair enough. I made my way into the cubicle and immediately hit my shin on the toilet bowl, feeling a sharp rush of pain as it split open, followed by the warm sensation of blood running down my leg… But this was war, no time to be a coward. I sat down and shit as hard as I’ve ever shit, then spread my legs open and threw up between them as best I could. A full purge. This process continued for some time. Back and forth, puke 'n' shit. 

As I shat and puked, a crack of light appeared across the bottom of my vision.

Then, like a curtain rising, painstakingly slowly, the crack of light rose up and my vision slowly came back as the curtain rose. I continued my purge protocol, and finally, as I concluded my business in that cubicle, I could see again.

We went to the doctor, who informed me that I had clearly drunk some fake illegal alcohol. Real alcohol has ethanol in it, and fake alcohol has methanol. Even in small amounts methanol can cause irreversible permanent bilateral blindness. In greater amounts it can cause permanent neurological dysfunction and even death. Look it up, it's no joke.

But I also had my job to think about, and today was not the day to get fired. So I said everything was okay, played it off to the doc, and went and worked my ass off that day.

No surrender. 

And that was the time I went full Russian. 

TLDR: Went blind from drinking bootleg Russian vodka in Russia. Got methanol poisoning, a potentially life-threatening thing that also can leave you blind for life. I got lucky, and proved that not even the strongest of the Russian booze can kill me.

Love, The BoozeDaddy
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