This is one of those stories that could wind round and round itself if I let it, so bear with me. We’re going to rewind to my college days. Now, it might be easy to come to the conclusion, based on a few stories here, that my college days were a period of reckless drinking, acts of questionable morality, and irresponsibility. Nothing could be further from the truth–I graduated at the top of my class, with honors and glowing recommendations from my professors. I worked hard in college because I really loved what I was doing there. So most nights would find me studying, working on projects, or drawing.
Not this one.
I don’t recall if there was an occasion, but probably not. It was just decided that we would go out. And, as college kids with budgetary concerns, that meant we would tie-on a pre-going-out buzz with a bottle or two of wine and maybe a little rum and Coke. (or, technically, rum and Sam’s Choice Cola–we watched our pennies in those days, friends.) Our small little college town had a number of bars. But take away the ones that were crawling with underaged kids, fake ID’s in hand, who would get knee-walking drunk from two shots of watered down well vodka and the ones that played terrible music or, worse, no music at all and just blared sports from the TVs, and you didn’t have a whole lot of options.
And so, when a new place opened, we were always eager to check it out. And that’s what we were doing on the night in question. A new bar had opened that promised good music, drag shows (which, if you have never seen one, are always entertaining), and inexpensive drink choices for their grand opening. Off we went (names changed to protect the innocent). Myself, already a bit tipsy, Nurse Boy (who would clean our entire ten room duplex in exchange for a pack of cigarettes), Gap Boy (who worked out all the time, the better to attract the folks he met on the internet), and Theatre Boy (who was sortof living with us as a third roommate at the time). My roommate, Psychology Girl, stayed in that night to speak with her internet boyfriend from Australia (the internet was new in those days and love could be found by anyone patient enough to wait for dial up.) A few other randoms were no doubt with us, but their names and places in this story are lost to time.
The new bar was a disappointment. Small and dingy, and might have passed for a Bingo parlor were it not for the thump of dance music and the occasional appearance of a low budget female impersonator. But the drinks were strong and cheap, and I had a few.
A few too many.
My first clue was when I went to the bathroom. There were two stalls and a urinal. Now, I don’t do urinals. They creep me out for some reason. So I entered a stall to do my business. And in the next stall was a poor fella who had even more to drink and was on his knees paying homage to the porcelain goddess. On his knees may be a generous description of his position, as his legs were completely limp and one of them had strayed under the divider into my stall. As he heaves, I’m seeing double and trying, but failing miserably, to aim for the toilet. I end up peeing on the seat, on the floor, and in the process, on the pants leg of this poor puking person whose leg is laying in my stall.
“Might wanna have him just burn those pants tomorrow.” I said to the friend helping him. And back I went to our table to order another round.
A short time later, I was feelin’ it. I had crossed the point of no return. I leaned forward on my hands. “Just resting my eyes a minute.” I assured those who asked if I was OK.
“Do you need to go home?” one friend asked.
“No, just let me be still for a second.”
Then came the sign. I took my glasses off. That signaled to all who knew me that I was done.
“Come on, I’ll get you home.”
“OK.” I agreed. I stood up. A wave of drunken nausea came over me. It was suddenly very hot. And the only way out was across the stage, where a plus-sized “girl” was doing her monologue. My hasty exit didn’t go unnoticed, as the performer prodded us for the reason we were leaving. I opened the door. And cold air hit me. Beautiful, soothing, ice cold air. I took a deep breath of it, and then….
emptied the contents of my stomach over the railing of the bars elevated entrance.
“You’re ok.” my friend assured me and we walked off to the car. We stopped to rest on the curb. We stopped to rest in an alley. I may have thrown up a few more times. Once I was in my seat and buckled in, he turned.
“You know you puked on someones truck, right?”
“Oh sorry.” I said, as if it had been his, and then I passed out.
Fast forward a week or two. Psychology girl and Theatre Boy head out for a night on the town just as I am going to bed. (Neither of their lucky asses had an 8 o’clock class on Friday) I fell quickly asleep and awoke around 7 the next morning. And I smelled pancakes! I reasoned that my friends had stayed out half the night and were downstairs making some post-drinking breakfast items. I walked down from my third floor bedroom. And when I hit the hallway in the second floor, something was wrong. This was December, but every window in the house was open. A big ole fan was running in the hallway. And whatever was “cookin'” sure didn’t smell like pancakes. Theatre Boy was passed out in one of the bedrooms, Psychology Girl was nowhere to be seen. I headed for the first floor. There she was, fast asleep on the sofa, the TV blaring static and snow. A fog hung in the air. Something was either on fire or had been.
I went into the kitchen. The front of the white range was stained dark with smoke, which was still wafting out. The broiler was on! I turned it off, and grabbed a pot holder. A pizza pan full of bits of charcoal came out. Had they been chicken nuggets? Pepperoni rolls? It was impossible to tell.
I went on to class, determined to get the “story” after my friends had slept it off. Turns out they had drank the night away with none other than the headliner from the club I’d overdone it at the weekend before, Betty Holmes and Gardenias. (yes, I believe that was “her” name). During the course of their conversation, she revealed that some rude bastard had vomited all over the hood of her white pickup truck the weekend before. I feel certain my friends confessed they knew the culprit.
After arriving home, Theatre Boy found a bed to drop on, but Psychology Girl had the munchies and decided to watch a movie. So she filled a pan with WAFFLE FRIES (yes, that’s what the charcoal like substance had been) popped in a VCR tape and passed out.
Theatre Boy awakened to black smoke filling the house. He threw open some windows, turned “off” (or so he thought) the oven, and went back to bed. Psychology girl slept through it all. And so did I. (So much for those smoke detectors!).
No harm, done though. The drag queen forgave me, the smoke damage cleaned right up, and our livers survived both nights.