Solving The Blackout Mystery


11:30 A.M. on a Saturday morning. Nasty Hangover. Head pounding and stomach churning, you slowly open your eyes. Suddenly, you look down and realize you’re wearing nothing but socks and a Hawaiian lei. Or that you’re lying in the middle of a campus parking lot, or next to a stranger who looks like the employee of the month at a carnival. Another blackout. How the hell did this happen?

You frantically rack your memory but all that comes back to you is that seventh whiskey sour, which is also threatening to come back to you via esophagus. But don’t panic—Here’s how to piece together what happened last night like a real private eye. Just like in Nancy Drew and the Case of the Drunken Skank. Make sure to wait until hangover subsides. It will do you no favors.

#1 Blackout Tips – Search for Clues

blackout detective

The first step to solving a blackout is searching for clues. Like any detective, your first task is to gather clues about your surroundings. If you’re in your own bed, for example, this is a prime indicator that someone walked you home last night. But if you’re sprawled in the middle of a grassy field or on the floor of a Wendy’s bathroom, for example, this is a good sign that your friends deserted you, and will probably post cell phone pictures of you the next day in a Facebook album titled “Joe: 0 The Captain: 1”.

passed out drunk at wendys

If you’re in someone else’s bed, the most important thing is to uncover their identity. You can do this either by looking through their wallet (although take care not to call them by the name on their fake ID) or by waking them up and asking them. However, if they look like a stunt double for Nanny McPhee, then it’s time to book it home and proceed to step two.

#2 Blackout Tips – Check the Outbox

drunk dialing

Next, grab your cell phone (if you still have it).  No matter how drunk you were, you were most-likely using your cell phone, and it it will serve as a black box for your blackout night. Chances are, you’ll probably have about fifty text messages from friends asking “are you safe?!?!” or “dude did you srsly just leave with nanny mcphee??!?” Ignore them. The only way to accurately reconstruct your night is to look through your outbox at the messages you sent. If you’re lucky, there won’t be any Brett Favre-style penis pictures or pathetic misspelled booty texts. You may be able to figure out some clues about where you were and who you were with, as well as what point in the night your memory loss began to occur.

For example, try to pinpoint when your spelling starts to deteriorate:

10:15pm: hey guys i’m at staceys house where are you?

11:07pm: hahahahd guesx who’s here????

12:23am: omggg patron kjdhfolsef 4

12:49am: hlep3 imon the roof11

2:12am: hheh48 brian9

Here, we can clearly see that blackout-level was likely reached around midnight, when shots of Patron may or may not have been consumed. We have also discovered that approximately an hour later, the sender of the texts ended up on a roof somewhere and that someone named “Brian” came into play. Progress. Time for step three.

#3 Blackout Tips – Call Your Friends

surprise phone convo

Now that you have some ideas as to what went on last night, it’s time to call the friends you went out with and have them fill in the blanks, as well as reproach them for leaving you to puke alone in a Wendy’s bathroom.

The conversation might go a little something like this:

You: “Hey, fun night last night. Do you, uh, remember what I did?”

Friend: “Before or after the hamsters?”

You: WHAT?!

(Beware: there are some friends who will try to persuade you that you did things that never actually happened, like flushing an RA’s pet hamsters down the toilet. It’s best to call a sympathetic friend who will tell you the truth)

You: “Hey, what did I do last night?”

Friend: “Well, after you climbed up on the roof at the luau and made out with some weird guy named Brian, you ran away screaming that you wanted a Frosty. That’s the last time anyone saw you.”

You: “Oh. Thanks. That makes sense.”

almost famous golden god

Perfect. Now you have an explanation for both the lei and waking up in a Wendy’s stall clutching a melted Frosty. But one mystery still remains—who is Brian?

#4 Blackout Tips – Go Through Your Camera

This is by far the most embarrassing step of the process, but the most crucial in determining the events of last night. The first several photos will be cute: Your friends and you smiling and posing together.

blacked out drunk

Then things start to get a little weird. A Sharpie mustache appears on one of your friend’s faces. There is an upside-down picture of you on a roof, affectionately hugging a chimney.

But wait—Oh, God, who’s that in the background? It’s Dandruff Boy from your English class…you’re starting to get an ominous feeling in the pit of your stomach. You’re pretty sure his name is Brian…


and sure enough, a few frames later, Dandruff Brian has replaced the chimney as the object of your affections. Mystery solved.

And although you might be a little embarrassed, give yourself a pat on the back for your sleuthing skills. Encyclopedia Brown would be proud. Maybe.

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