My First Après:

After a few weeks of skiing over the years I had finally breached the ‘legal’ drinking age in France that just so happened to be where we were going this year. After having been left out of the mad stories that my siblings had about their nights out on the slopes I was chomping at the bit to get involved!

I opened up my account after the first day with a few quiet beers after a tough days ski due to having a ‘family’ night in in the chalet. As you can imagine I was furious about the situation. I was ready to get on the beers and lose the plot… Finally the night came and my aforementioned siblings and I had planned a big après session followed by the nightclub. Being an overeager seventeen year old I could barely keep my powder dry during my day frolicking on the slopes. The day began to come to a close and I had been pushing for beers since lunch, it’s fair to say I was setting myself up for an overexcited frenzy of early beers and a pretty sharp decline once out.

My brother finally gave me a look to suggest his legs were done battling against the moguls and let’s face it at this point slush (it was a late Easter afternoon) letting me know he too was ready for a sit down and some beers. However I wasn’t yet home and dry as we still had to convince my dad. Luckily it’s probably harder to turn on a tap then get my dad in front of a beer after a days skiing. So down we went straight down to the quaint wooden bar at the bottom of the slope. We took our place on the balcony bathed in sunshine; dad didn’t bat an eye-lid and ordered a giraffe. A device I can only describe as an invention more ground breaking the Edison’s light bulb. As I sat down at the table the balcony felt more like an amphitheatre then a bar, I couldn’t be more ready for a night to remember. Being the ‘baby’ of the family I felt like I had to prove I could handle my beers with the ensuing debauchery of the night ahead.

Without trying particularly hard we finished the first giraffe as the rest of the rabble joined the party, we ordered another and settled in. I was receiving looks every now and again from my mother, a look every teenager knows when having beers with the family, a look to say I think you should slow down. However at this point I probably had to agree and I slowed my pace just a smidge as it occurred to me I was settling in for a marathon not a sprint. After the second giraffe lay barren in front of us we settled the bill and headed back to the chalet for dinner. Once again the beers began to flow and there were games, wine, beers and laughter. After a terribly heated game of name in the hat, a game combining Charades, Taboo and Heads Up we were free to cause havoc on the streets of Val d’Isere. As we made our way down to the nightclub, our chalet girl and now tour guide in tow, we began discussing the game plan. Sadly we were heading towards a slightly higher end establishment then we had previously anticipated, the sort of place where it made more sense to buy a bottle of vodka and some mixer then beer upon beer for the group. So we went for it!

As the vodka and it’s accoutrements arrived at our table we all looked at each other and decided ‘vodka face’ was the evenings game of choice, in essence the game pins all against all going shot for shot and trying to keep a straight face while doing so. Loser of each round then does another shot and it begins again. We each made ourselves a safety drink which got rid of all the mixer and left an empty measuring jug next to me… A measuring jug that will become integral to the story later on. Our family has a somewhat Musketeerian attitude when it comes to drinking and as such the scenes at the end are often apocalyptic and in many cases relationship enders! With it being my first real session of vodka face it had hit me harder then I had expected and I had already had to have a cheeky and incredibly sly tactical in loos in order to avoid losing both the game and any hope of pride for the future. As vodka face powered on and we got to the business end of the bottle there was a lot of slurring of words, heavy eye-lids and even heavier heads around the table. Before too long the war of attrition kicked in, we each loaded up our shot glasses however this time I, the youngest and the one pushing the beers earlier was beginning to come into unchartered territory as far as booze was concerned. I could feel a storm once again brewing inside but decided to go ahead with the shot for pride’s sake… I went last in the group and my eldest brother went first. He knocked it back and before long he was convulsing and holding back a disaster. He fled to the bathroom and I believed he had lost and the game was won, my pride in tact. However it was made clear to me by my sister that because he went first we each had to successfully hold down this final shot for him to be declared the overall loser. Sadly I knew what was coming… It was my turn and having seen what this shot had done to my brother I was incredibly nervous. My sister and brother and both managed to successfully navigate the minefield of the shot and now it was my turn or as I had labelled it, ‘the moment of truth.’ I tentatively threw it back and immediately regretted it, scrambling around for somewhere to chunder I found salvation in the empty measuring jug on the table and ducked my head under the table and proceeded to fill the vessel. I slowly peered above the table to see two hyenas cackling at my expense and quickly excused myself to the loo, where I bumped into a very sheepish looking role model. I swilled some water around my mouth left the measuring jug in the loo and began returning to the table. I passed my middle brother coming the other way and laughed in revenge as it was clear playing for second place had ended in tears and as I arrived back to the table my sister was also nowhere to be seen! It was safe to say vodka had beaten us. Remarkably after everyone had dispelled their demons a second wind blustered through the nightclub and we went for a team dance session and spirits were once again as high as could be, we bundled into the taxi singing at the top of our lungs and the night was once again ours. However it was pretty clear that when we woke up, the morning was taking its revenge and our hangovers were easy to spot from the chairlift.

Whilst this night was wonderfully unsuccessful in most people’s eyes, I would argue that as a family our success speaks for itself. Like many I have après stories in the locker consisting of friends, dancing, fun and snogging however it’s important to know what you’ve come from to better appreciate a successful night when it happens. This is why I chose to share this story with you. A story of family, vomit, an unbreakable bond and a hangover not even the mountain air could fix!