Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Good Time Was NOT Had By All

Over 20 years later I can look back and laugh, but at the time this night out with my friend was a complete and utter nightmare.

My friend called me one day and begged me to come to her city for a visit.  Some truly terrible events had taken place in her life and she was very depressed and alone.  My boys decided to go camping that same weekend so I was free to take off for some girl time.

When I got there I suggested to my friend that we go out for the evening to take her mind off her troubles, and asked her if she had a new place in mind that she would like to try out rather than go again to our usual haunts.  She named the place and off we went.  It sounded like a lovely dinner club type of place so we decided to dress up in our finest and have a change of pace.

Well, it was a change of pace all right....turned out to be a giant country music bar way out to heck and gone on the western most edge of the city, miles and miles from my friend's apt.  She drove us there and by some miracle I happened to note the street name signs and the various convoluted turns along the way.  A miracle indeed as I rarely pay attention to the directions in a new city with someone else driving.

I cringed as soon as we drove into the parking lot.  The building was big and dirty, a converted warehouse with holes the size of Iceland in the parking lot pavement, and a row of saw horses loosely chained together at the end closest to the building to prevent people from sinking their cars into the worst of the holes like a golf ball in a cup.

The shiver I experienced was definitely a premonition of the coming evening's entertainment. 

Things started off just fine.  The cavernous interior was actually nicely decorated and only a handful of folk were there having their dinner.  Nice pop music was playing in the background and the patrons were quiet enough.  We ordered a half bottle of wine to accompany our steaks. Stupidly, I started to relax. 

An hour into our evening the trouble began.  We were just finishing a delicious dessert when we realized the place was filling up with all manner of interesting looking folk. Cowboy boots and bandanas were taking over at the tables and the lights were starting to dim.  The dinner music clicked off and there was silence while a building wide, 2 storey high red velvet curtain opened across from us to reveal a blue jeaned DJ and his turntable, and another fellow who turned out to be not only our MC for the evening but my friend's salvation.  

The DJ was introduced and began to spin his repertoire of country music vinyls. The volume quickly rose until my friend and I couldn't hear ourselves talk.  Oh joy....anyone who knows me knows that I consider the term "country music" to be an oxymoron.  The "moron" part of that word is most applicable in my opinion.  And to have to listen at that volume made my head throb.

BUT I was there for my friend's enjoyment, not my own.  She ordered a drink or 2 and I didn't.  I am always the designated driver but didn't know when we left home that night what that would eventually entail.  After a boring hour of watching my friend and the other patrons stomping their feet and clapping their hands and whistling I decided to take a washroom break.  At this point I could see how overdressed my friend and I were for the occasion but wasn't concerned about anyone else caring what we wore.  Another stupid move.

I barely got into the washroom before a couple of other women approached me to let me know they didn't appreciate my outfit, and who was I trying to impress??!!  Yeah..okay....just need to use the bathroom...see ya' out there later...nice ten gallon hat mistake.....maybe you should have just stayed home and finished the bottle of booze you started before you got here.....??

Not a nice situation, but I managed to escape the washroom unharmed. As I was heading back to our table the MC hollered something into the microphone and there was dead silence in the place.  Then from the mic I heard, "Hey in the fancy dress.........(ME????).....yeah, YOU!!  Did you get lost on your way to a wedding?? hahahahahahahaha (thunderous applause from the crowd) What's yer' name sister? (I have no name, will never have a name ever again.)  Oh, and who's yer little friend?  Is she the flower girl?? (more thunderous applause as I looked for the nearest exit door and my friend stood up on the table, ON THE TABLE!! and took a bow that nearly toppled her head first onto the floor.)  Wha'...??  I decided to be a good sport and told the man my name was Agnes and waved at everyone before escaping back to the relative safety of our table.  The show went on....and on.....and on.

An hour later I was starting to pay more attention to how much alcohol my friend was imbibing and understanding better why she had nearly fallen on her head after her bow to the MC earlier on.  Either she was sneaking other peoples'drinks when none of us were looking or else she has the lowest tolerance to alcohol in the known world.  I honestly had not seen her order more than about 4 drinks in over 2 hours but she was a tad tipsy.

Another hour crawled painfully by, but my friend was having fun and hey, wasn't that why I was there? For her?  I had counted on her driving us back home, but perhaps it would be okay if I drove instead. She seemed only slightly more inebriated, but nothing a good night's sleep wouldn't fix.

Then came the turning point in the evening.  Each time I felt I couldn't stand another minute of the place I would take a washroom break.  When I returned from one of my breaks I found my friend with a row of 10 shooters sitting in front of her. Wha???  She was determined she was going to drink them.  I sighed, knowing I would not be able to talk her out of it, and starting to be so grateful I had memorized the route for going home. She downed them one after the other and amazingly seemed to feel no adverse effects.  I watched her closely over the next hour and there were no discernable changes in her mood or behaviour.  

AND THEN:  I told her I would take one more break to get away from the cigarette smoke that was burning my eyes and clogging my throat and sinuses.  When I came back she was not at the table.  I scanned the dance floor, I went back to the washrooms to find her, I convinced the bouncers at the door that even though they had not seen her I should be allowed to check the parking lot in case she had slipped past them.  After 25 minutes of searching I was starting to panic. Where the heck was she???

Suddenly the music stopped in the middle of one of the tuneless ditties I had been subjected to all night.  The dead silence was more deafening than the music.  The MC went to the mic and asked for everyone to please pay attention because he had to locate someone.  Him too???  Then he asked if Agnes was still in the house. Agnes, where are you? Haha, Agnes...what kind of an old fashioned name is that? Hey, wait a minute...that is MY name for this evening.   Aaaawww, NOW what? I got close to the stage and signalled my presence.  He bent down close to the edge of the stage whispered, "Agnes, your friend needs help and she needs it NOW!"  He pointed out to the furthest corner of tables away from the stage and sure enough. There was my friend laying on her back on a table top with 2 ugly looking guys circling like vultures and with obviously less than honorable intentions on their minds. I raced over there at light speed and dragged my friend off the table while putting the run on her new buddies who were less than excited to see me.  In the few moments I had been in the washroom during my last break, those shooters had hit her full force. She had no idea who she was, who I was, where she was, or what was going on. All she knew was that she didn't want to be rescued.  She screeched, "NO!!" at me, squirmed out of my grasp and raced off through the very interested crowd that gathered around we 2 overdressed wedding attendants.

Oh no...where on earth was she now?  I returned to our more centralized table and started scanning the room once again. I took my turn standing up on the table and peered through the smokey haze.  No sign of her anywhere.  I was completely unable to think of what I should do next.  But the good old MC came to my rescue (and hers) once again. The music clicked off, the silence took over, and the MC said "Hey Agneeeeessss..." and pointed.  Then I not only saw my friend, I heard her.

From the other side of the building came a series of blood curdling war whoops and my friend came into view.  She was whooping, dancing in circles, waving her arms, and had about a dozen equally inebriated souls, mostly men, in a conga line behind her.  The rest of the crowd was shocked into silence long enough for the MC to say, between whoops, "Agnes, I think you had better take your friend home." No guff!!  Aiiiii.....yiiii.....the MC saved both our lives that night.  I have NEVER been go embarrassed in a public place, never so worried about a friend. AND never so TOTALLY ANGRY!

I managed with assistance from the bouncers to corral her into a corner. She is a tiny person, a tiny pixie, and I was able to slap her full in the face to get her attention and herd her out of the door.  She immediately started running to try to get away from me, tripped on the edge of a pothole, and fell headlong into the chains holding the saw horses in place. I disentangled her just as the fresh air hit her, lost my grip on her arm, and she swooned into the pothole.   I was so mad I was actually able to hoist her out, pick her up and carry her to the car where I deposited her unceremoniously onto the passenger seat.  She immediately slid down onto the floor and started to moan. I didn't stop to check her for injuries as I wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.  Fortunately she had none.

Then came the next problem:  me fitting into the driver's seat to drive home.  As I said, my friend is very tiny. She owned a tiny sardine can sized car. The seat was pulled up as closely to the steering wheel as possible and it was stuck in place. NO amount of wiggling, twisting or cussing would budge the lever to move the seat back.  I forced myself into the seat, tearing my nice dress in the process, but I was so furious I didn't even care.  

On the positive side of the drive home, I did remember the convoluted route and got us home safely.  I also learned how to drive with my knees up around my ears and my arms jammed into the holes in the steering wheel.  I learned how to stuff the bottom half of my dress down into my crotch area to give me enough space to see out of the windshield through the one hole in the steering wheel left that had neither of my arms stuck through it. It is possible to drive this way for a few miles.....when it is 2am....when there are no other cars to speak of on the road....when there are no police to see you go through myriad red lights because your foot doesn't quite reach the brake pedal to hold it down long enough to come to a complete stop, due to not having enough space to disentangle your knees from your ears. this time my friend had stopped moaning....had stopped giving any signs of life at all. Didn't care!

When we got to her apt. parking structure I was able to ease the car into her assigned space and touch on the brake just enough to keep the car from crashing into the cement wall in front of us. I was grateful for that wall as it ensured we did actually come to a full stop.  Sigh......again sigh.........

It took me a couple of minutes to hoist myself back out of the car and another couple of minutes to calm down and accept that my once lovely dress was a complete write off of lacerations and gaping holes.  It took me another couple of minutes to haul my friend from her comfy space on the floor of the car and throw her over my shoulder to get her into the apt. and another couple of minutes to balance myself in the hallway while trying to get her keys to work in the door lock. When we finally managed to enter the place I tossed her onto her bed, slammed her door and stocked off to the couch to massage my numb legs and put a bandaid on my ear where I had caught it on my friend's earring when I hauled her in from the car.

By the time I had calmed down it was nearly 5am, but I did eventually manage to soothe myself to sleep.  Ahhh......the end of the nightmare evening at last.  I decided that as soon as I woke up I would pack my bags, check to see that my friend was still breathing, and sneak out of the apt before my friend awoke all hung over and miserable, and drive myself home and never speak to her again!

At 9am my room door flew open with a bang. There stood my friend, all dressed in clean jeans and her hair and make up perfect once again. I gaped at her.
"Hey sleepy head!" she chirped at me.  "Wake up!  Let's go out for breakfast, I'm starving!"  Not a sign of a hangover, no upset tummy, no fuzzy mouth, not even a slight sign of exhaustion from her dancing gyrations of the night before, no sore throat from the war whooping.......

I had a headache, sore throat and swollen sinuses from the smoke, an upset tummy from the previous night's stresses and a bleeding ear from stabbing it with her earring during my Good Samaritan journey in the middle of the night.  Life is definitely not fair.

I declined breakfast, pleaded illness, and slunk home to catch up on my sleep before my campers returned home all excited to share their adventures.

A few days later my friend called me to thank me for letting her relax and get over her troubles with a fun night least the fun part at the beginning she could still remember. The rest......I didn't bother to enlighten her. It wouldn't have made any difference. It wouldn't have made the entire fiasco evening unhappen.

That was the last time I went to spend a weekend with her least until her birthday nearly  a year later when we went with her work mates to a nice dinner club where the staff likes to sing a birthday song to unsuspecting birthday celebrators. She had told her friends that if the staff were to come to OUR table and sing the dumb song to HER, she would leave the table never to return, drag me with her, and stick the rest of them with what would turn out to be her and my very large tab. And THEY did and SHE did and I never went to visit her again.

We have fallen out of touch, my friend and I. Our lives are too different now.  The common ground is long gone.  But despite the disasters we shared I do miss the truly fun times we also shared.  I miss being young and silly sometimes, but I don't miss the fiascos. Our accidental crashing of the bar-mitzvah was nothing compared to later, more bizarre adventures, and sometimes it is just time to move on. 

I miss you my friend and I hope your life has settled down to a dull roar. You were never ever boring, I will say that much.

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