How Alcohol Poisoning Reminded Me How Good I Have It

Jake and I had a great day on Saturday. We went to a festival in Springfield, ate fried food and candied nuts, watched Netflix, and then walked around the park to make up for the calories we’d consumed. We had a pretty low key night ahead of us, when I checked my phone to see that Catherine, Laura, and Gail were calling me out for a night on Catherine’s patio. I’d promised I’d come, even last minute, if they sent me the invite and Jake, in all his good ol’ boy charm, was game, especially since Gail’s Terry would be there, so he wouldn’t be the only cock in the hen house. Conveniently enough, we’d just been to the liquor store and were more than prepared for this BYOB with whiskey and coke and the small bottle of Strawberry Smirnoff I’d bought to mix with Fresca… only I’d forgotten the Fresca.

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I remember a great deal of the night. I remember Jake arguing politics with Catherine. I remember sitting in the grass with Laura, talking about her marriage. I remember making fish sticks when we got hungry drunk and walking around the block. I remember teasing Gail about her newfound veganism and Terry about their five year engagement. I remember playing on Catherine’s daughter’s swing set. I’m so glad I remember all of that, because I had a great time… until I didn’t.

You see, I also remember judging my shots without a glass and drinking straight from the bottle. I remember wondering why I wasn’t feeling it more. I remember feeling good and drunk and then thinking I really didn’t want to be any more drunk, but that I didn’t have to worry, because the bottle was empty anyway. I remember Laura realizing this and making me stick my finger down my throat… Jake trying to carry me inside, after Laura’s failed attempts to rouse me… and throwing up. I remember that last one the most. The rest of the night was just a blur of pain and humiliation… and apologies, because y’all, I am a grown ass woman. I have no idea what I was thinking. I haven’t even been close to that drunk since the summer of 2011, when Gail, Malik, and I decided to mix shrimp and peach vodka to celebrate my new apartment. Even then, I had an excuse in the fact that I’d lost about 60 pounds and had no concept of my new tolerance. I’m 29, not 19. I don’t even get drunk enough to be hungover anymore, let alone lose the ability to stand or speak. I’m not that girl. I chase chick beers with water and ibuprofen, not vodka with vodka… and thank goodness Jake and my friends know that…

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… because through all the misery and mortification, what I remember most clearly was Jake and Laura working to get me inside and clean up any mess in Catherine’s house, all while assuring me that I didn’t have to apologize and it was okay, that I’d be okay, because losing that kind of control is terrifying. Ashamed, I begged them not to laugh at me or tease me. Laura spoke in motherly tones while cleaning up vomit. As I dry-heaved, Jake held my hair, rubbed my back, and told me over and over again that I didn’t have to be sorry or embarrassed, because he’d done far worse. The two of them sat in the kitchen sharing their own cringe-worthy drinking tales as I fell asleep on Catherine’s couch.

I woke a few hours later to find Jake in the kitchen and told him I wanted to go home. After 30 minutes of gathering my stuff, we headed out, before Catherine, Gail, or Terry woke to witness my shame. Jake helped me up the stairs and onto the couch, where he was once again unbearably sweet to me as I recovered from just that short trek.

Me: “I’m so sorry. Thank you for being so nice to me.”
Jake: “You don’t have to be sorry.”
Me: “Will you be nice to me tomorrow, when I don’t feel good?”
Jake: “I will always be nice to you.”

Still drunk, I showered and changed as sunlight filtered through the window.

Me: “I’m so sorry. Are you going to break up with me?”
Jake: “I wouldn’t dream of breaking up with you.”

That afternoon, Jake came into the living room to find me with a throw-up bowl in my lap, texting Laura a thank you.

Jake: “How are you feeling?”
Me: “Bad.”
Jake: “Well, the good news is, you don’t have to worry about how many calories you ate, yesterday.”
Me: “I’m embarrassed.”
Jake: “Oh, I’ve been much more embarrassed. Do you remember what you drank to make you so sick?”
Me: “All of the vodka.”
Jake: “Were you just drinking straight from the bottle? Did you think you were a saloon owner in an old western?”

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There is no way I would’ve had more than a fourth shot, had I been using a shot glass, let alone a sixteenth.

Gail texted to ask what time I’d left that morning and I realized that Laura hadn’t told anyone about the events of the previous night. She’d kept my humiliation private. Jake spent the rest of the day watching Harry Potter with me and taking brief breaks to check on the Cowboys game, as I failed to keep down pretzel sticks and water… and wondered how I got so lucky to have such amazing people in my life. Those two are both getting homemade peanut brittle this weekend.

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Crawfish and Smarmy

I have previously written about how much I suck at dating. The post “Beginning Dating… at Age 25” was all about how I date like a socially awkward stereotypical man… who’s an asshole. I’m new to this. People just don’t expect me to be. While I’ve never had a successful date (define: has a follow-up), I have managed to have some really funny disastrous experiences. I’ll share my favorite.

Gail and I decided to meet at a local bar to watch the basketball playoffs in late spring. I’d worn a cute little sundress and cowgirl boots and she’d worn not-much dress and heels. This was not some fancy bar. The air was filled with smoke and the sound of cracking pool balls, the menus were sticky, and they were playing a freaking basketball game. So we were sending completely intentional signals, as this was before she ruined our fun by getting a boyfriend. Don’t get me wrong. We were there to see the game. Thank goodness I like sports, or I’d never meet men. However, if we happened to get some free drinks out of it, then so be it.

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From the beginning of the night, our efforts had proven successful. That man really didn’t need to grab my leg and apologize so profusely for bumping into me. “Yes, someone is sitting here and I don’t need you and your buddy to grab a bucket of beers and join me.” That sort of thing. Eventually, a cute Cajun man who sounded like the newest popular Pixar character came to speak to us, his friend in tow. The Cajun man offered to buy us drinks and I didn’t want him to spend much money on me, so I asked for a beer. He seemed confused (and not that bright), so Gail rolled her eyes at me and told him to get us both a Sprite with peach schnapps. The bartender delivered the drinks, so there was no concern in actually drinking them. I’d probably have done so anyway, since “Hey, it’s still the suburbs,” but that’s likely why Gail tells me I’m too stupid to go out alone. “Naive” would be the nicer term, since she fancies herself the sweet one and all.

When it came time for introductions, the bar was loud, because we were winning the game. The Cajun man told me his name. At first I didn’t hear him. I asked twice for him to repeat it, before he pantomimed spelling it out to a girl who wants to be a young adult librarian one day.

R-U-E.

“Oh! RUE! As in…” quick glance to see Gail wide-eyed and shaking her head “… Rue.”

Hellz yeah. The dress was short. He wasn’t there for the eloquence. However, I did avoid making a Hunger Games reference to a cute drunk guy in a bar. Score one for… well, Gail.

Meanwhile, Gail was being assaulted… I mean wooed… by Sales.*  Sales was a chubby guy with over-gelled hair and Wal-Mart dress clothes, who’d have been cute if those things weren’t so obvious. He seemed confused as to how to appeal to women and complimented Gail’s heels way too many times for a guy claiming straight. As the night went on, we realized he was just really, really, drunk. There’s no other reason a man would say “So, you never told me where you worked” twelve times in an evening. Sales eventually earned the nickname “Smarmy”, because I use outdated language and that freaking fit.

*Men get nicknames until they matter and when I make them, they are always based on their careers, if only to prove they have them.

While Gail told Smarmy what she did for a living for the eleventeenth time, I sat back to back with her and continued talking to Rue. He was nice enough, he bought me a drink, and that’s kind of why we were at the bar. Now, I don’t do this sort of thing super often, but I’m pretty sure when asked if you have any tattoos in a bar, you’re supposed to reveal a sexy kitten just over your butt crack. I think it’s supposed to be sexy that you have a tattoo there, not the kitten picture itself. It’s probably not necessary to clarify that, as I’m not sure what would make a kitten sexy.

Rue: “So do you have any tattoos?”
Me: “Just one, on my foot. It’s an ankh.”
Rue: “A what?”
Me: “An ankh? It’s like a cross with a loop on it. It’s an Egyptian symbol for life. Do you have any?”
– At this point, he turns around and proceeds to take his shirt off. –
Rue: “I’m from Louisiana, so my buddies call me Crawfish.” he said in his poorly executed True Blood accent “See?”

See? was rhetorical, as it was impossible to miss that beneath said shirt was a full back piece of a rainbow-colored crawfish. I shit you not. I didn’t even know what a crawfish looked like until this moment in time and I must say, I would not want a picture of one on my back.

As I laughed at Crawfish Rue’s tattoo, which he luckily took to be flirting, Smarmy continued to sell himself to Gail… poorly. Greaser hair and $12 dress pants aside, I am pretty sure that this man got all of his dating skills from the Dell Computer Sales Manual. “Make sure to say the customer’s name at least three times during the transaction, so as to create the illusion of a personal relationship. Establish physical contact in a 2-1 ratio with this name.” He probably called Gail “Abigail” at least 50 times that night. Every other time he did so, he would gesture with an open palm and barely touch her shoulder with the tips of his fingers. Over and over and over again, while talking about what a great guy Crawfish Rue was. “He is the best guy you’ll ever meet.” He also repeatedly said “I know this sounds like a line, but it’s not.” Dude, it sounds like a line because you’ve worded it exactly that way fourteen times. Eventually, he decided to teach her to play pool in the most condescending Little Lady manner I ever did see, which was amusing for me, as Gail spends about 23 hours a day wearing her Plumed Feminist Hat.*

*This hat is metaphorical.

While Gail learned that the skinny end of the pool stick is supposed to hit the ball, Rue began to tell me his story.

Rue: “I’m originally from Texas and I’m moving back there tomorrow. I have a kid there.”
Me: “Oh, that’s great! You’ll get to be closer.”
Rue: “Not really. He’s a little asshole.”
Me: “Uh… how old is he?”
Rue: “Four. He’s just a little asshole. He does whatever he wants.”
Me: “Oh… well, maybe you’ll get to fix that when you’re closer.”
Rue: “Nah. I’m not allowed within a hundred feet of him.”
Me: “Oh… um… I’m sorry.”
Rue: “Yeah, you see, I spent four months in military prison. I was over in Iraq and when I came back, I found out my ex-wife had been fuckin’ around on me… so… cuz of her, I had to go to military prison for a while.”

At the risk of sound redundant: What the fucking fuck? I am pretty sure you left a substantial and enitrely relevant chunk out of that story, Crawfish Rue. Now, I am not a subtle person. It’s just not in me. I was a little tipsy and this guy just told me about his completely unprovoked stint in military prison. By this point, Gail’s pool lessons had ceased and she was back to back with me again. I turned and semi-shouted in a panic, “GAIL!”

Gail: laughing “He just called me goose.” This refered to my nicknaming Gail’s little girl Goose.”
Me: a touch hysterical and probably in a loud enough stage-whisper for Crawfish Rue to hear “Military prison!”
Gail: “He called me goose?”
Me: “Military! Prison!”
Gail: “You want to go play pool?”

It was this night, actually, that Gail and I decided we needed a “He’s creeping me out” code word. Fortunately, Smarmy and she went on another couple of dates before she never heard from him again when she didn’t put out.

Me: “How’s Sales?” she’d gotten pissy about the totally accurate and completely PG Smarmy nickname
Gail: “He’s good. He wants me to go to Boston with him.”
Me: silence “You’re kidding, right?”
Gail: “What? No. Why?”
Me: “Boston? Massachusetts?”
Gail: “No. Boston, the band.”

We recently found ourselves in a bar where an older man was caressing my shoulder far too much (define: at all). I randomly started shouting about Massachusetts and Gail fucking forgot. Eye roll.