A Cold Night and a Stick

Hey y’all, pretend it’s Thursday – I sure am.

I thought about being lazy and doing a re-post of Tuesday’s tale, but decided against it. We need something new, something fresh! Something with risk! Adventure! With a marginal police presence!

Besides, who wants to read anything about peace, love, actual monks, boobies, roller-blading luchadors, cock rings, and public feces…?

Here, ya weirdo (and thank you/you’re welcome ahead of time).

I was going to save this for a time closer to St. Patrick’s Day, but I got a bit impatient (though, the pretentious side of me wants to call it “inspired”). And I figured the present is as good a time as any.

Oh, and I should say off the top that I publicly do NOT condone half the decisions made by the following characters in the following story (though which half is up to you, and said characters are definitely my friends and I). But first, a question: do you believe in serendipity?

Because I sure as fuck do.

It starts innocently enough, a few 19-year-old-ishes at a house party on St. Patrick’s Day night. Of course there’s tequila, of course there’s vodka, of course they’re all pretty cheap, and so of course that is pretty much the party. I don’t remember much, but that isn’t because of booze intake, it’s because it was pretty nondescript to start.

Drinking happens, merrymaking commences, smiles broaden.

Then came my moment to be a hero.

A kid who’s name I forget – let’s call him Jordan – started complaining that he had to make it home. A problem anyone should expect is that there wasn’t a clear, stone-sober head in our entire gaggle, so no one was volunteering. Not that I recommend it in a million years, but I did my own little self-diagnosis, checked it against my ego and overly inflated estimation of my abilities, and figured, “Yep, good enough.”

So now we had a willing driver, I hadn’t driven to the party, so I was without a car. Glances were exchanged throughout the group – because I guess we’d weirdly made up our minds to make sure Jordan made it home then and there for whatever reason – as to who would volunteer their vehicle. Eventually, one guy – let’s call him Moose – says he’s no good to drive, but I can use his car if I want to. I say “Yes, cap’n” and he tosses me the keys before walking me out to his Honda CR-V.

Now, a couple of things to explore before we go any further.

Anyone who’s had their vehicle for long enough and then loans it to a friend for them to drive has learned there are a few things about your own car that you’re totally used to, but anyone unfamiliar needs a warning about. For example, I drive an ’03 Chrysler Sebring and yeah, sure, I’m used to the right-leaning list it has, the way the brakes sort of rattle, the crunching sound of the suspension going over speedbumps, and the horrible leprosy affecting the interior plastic handholds – but not everyone else is. So, if ever it needs to get borrowed, they get the run down.

Secondly, Moose’s CR-V was a manual transmission, and at that time, I was working at a car lot in town – my first job out of high school. On that job, my manager had been teaching me how to drive stick as part of moving vehicles around the lot, grabbing gas, so on and so forth. Still though, to say I could drive stick would have been a massive misrepresentation of my abilities. At absolute most, I could kinda manage it sort of if I’m really careful, lucky, focused, and everyone is really patient with me (and that’s remained true these seven years later).

So when he walks us both out to his car, and tells me it’s a stick, and that it doesn’t run smooth, that the stick gets caught pretty easy, etc etc – yeah, my heart let out a squeaky, arrhythmic fart; but I couldn’t turn back, now that Jordan was so full of hope and I’d already accepted the group’s mantle as hero-of-the-night.

So I was resolved to make this work.

We pull away from the curb easily enough, and we make our way off into the night. Jordan gave me slurred directions, and we slowly but surely made our way back safely back to his house, never once leaving second gear. Eventually he points to an apartment complex parking lot, saying, “in there,” and we pull into a parking space.

Mission Accomplished.

Jordan thanks me, walks over to where there’s a courtyard party taking place, high-five’s some guys, takes a shot, and goes full Woo Girl.

Then it dawns on me: sonuvabitch had me drive him not home, but to another party.

I check my pockets and realize two more things: I left my phone and wallet back at the house party.

Rather than freak out, I sat on the curb and took inventory of my situation…

I was in a town I didn’t know, at night, in a car that wasn’t mine, without I.D., without directions, without my phone, but with a blood-alcohol content above 0% on one the heaviest drinking nights of the year to ensure police presence.

I could just…sleep.

Not sure what good that would do, but it would put a hold on the situation and make it Future Evan’s problem.

Nah.

I could cry.

Again, wouldn’t do much good, but I might feel better and attract someone looking to cure a poor kid’s pitiful situation.

Instead, I sprouted my Social Butterfly wings and went into the party following after Jordan. The way I figured it, I could charm or beg a phone off someone for a few seconds to call someone back at my party of origin. Then I pause, realizing I don’t know anyone’s number off the top of my head – Socrates would bemoan my time’s failure of memory.

Then I saw him – we’ll call him Nick – a mutual friend of mine and the tribe I was trying to make my way home to.

“Holy shit!” I shouted.
“Evan, the hell are you doin’ here?”
“Long story, but I’m hella happy to see you. Can I borrow your phone?”

I explain my situation, he lends me his phone, and I search out a mutual contact back at Party Central. It rings, rings, rings, and goes to voicemail. I try another…which also rings, rings, rings, and goes to voicemail.

Well’p, still stranded. Awesome.

Finally, I get through to someone, give her the name of the apartment complex, and she shows up about fifteen minutes later. So, carefully, we make our way back to Party Central, her following closely behind – not difficult, since I’m topping off at about 20 mph and trying to slow down enough at stop signs for the engine to not stall. Once or twice, a sheriff’s vehicle drove along side me, sniffing for any mistake like a shark trying to find blood in the water; but ultimately, mercifully let me go.

We made it back and my Guardian Angel turned in its timecard with plenty of overtime logged.

Wish I could say there was a chase with attack dogs, a helicopter, something with a s’more somehow starting a fire, and a long lost love – but next time.

See ya Tuesday, turkies.

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