Thursday, April 29, 2004

Sketchy Bill 17: The Crash

Things got pretty hairy after the LSD kicked in. Every time I tried to relax and not look so much like a FUCKING FREAK ON ACID (because we were, after all, being served in an expensive french restaurant), I'd sort of overshoot and start feeling like just another punk rock kid with no class. A turd in a punch bowl, in either case.

And Sarah instantly started to dislike me. I can't blame her, really. My charm was long gone (what there was to begin with), replaced by an almost psychotic paranoia that I tried to cover by smiling too broadly. Like everything else, I overshot that as well, which resulted in either a rictus grin or a slumped, tight attempt at a regular smile, which probably made me look like I was fighting back nausea.

Dinner for me was the lion's share of two bottles of white wine and a noodle or two from Nefertiti's plate. Sarah made rather stilted conversation with Bill, who didn't seem to notice my difficulties. In fact, he appeared to be singing my praises to Sarah, who wouldn't look at me unless she just absolutely, for decorum's sake, had to.

And again, I don't blame her. I was a sweating longhaired acidhead in an Amoeba Records tshirt, which got me a surreptitious thumbs-up from one of the younger servers. She was nearly Bill's age, and looked out at the world through a thin mist of perfume that cost more than most of my employees make in a year.

Dinner was not lingered over, because it was nearly dark and Bill (who was plainly running the show) was intent on getting me into what he felt was my natural element, a club. This is in fact one of the worst environments for me to be in. I know this story has revolved in a large part around my neuroses, but it's still OK for me to point out that I hate crowds.

In a jiffy, though, we were all downstairs at some chrome-and-glass monstrosity of a bar, where Bill shouted affectionately at the bartender while deftly arranging for me to sit next to Sarah. I made an abortive attempt at conversation, which was promptly smacked down with a sort of eye-roll/quick look away combo that would have made my hair stand up had I not been so acutely aware of what I looked (and probably smelled) like. Still, it's not like I was asking her for her freakin' sign or anything, so after we got our drinks I decided to give her another chance. I turned on my barstool, intending to face her directly and made double-damn sure I wasn't misreading her...

...and knocked her drink into her lap.

I swear to you, peoples, I would never, ever do something like that on purpose. Ever. I mean it. And she knew that, I'm sure--if I'd done it on purpose, she would have slapped me, but might have respected me a bit more. In short order, she was gone.

Which was OK by Bill, for some reason. Nefertiti wanted to dance, so suddenly I found myself upstairs, precariously holding a small drink and being introduced to a hundred hipsters all at once. I was back in the outer orbit of something I was familiar with--Burning Man people.

It turns out I'd met a few of these people before--they had showed up on Friday night in a white limo with a big red cross on the hood. I'd blown them off at the time, because, well, just because, I guess. If they were that cool, why were they hanging around Bill? Now I was in their territory, and they loved me. Bill kept dragging me into the bathroom and handing me a glass vial full of what I took to be coke, which didn't seem to be doing much for me. I later realized it's probably what kept me from falling down and going to sleep right there in the club...

You know you're in trouble when you can remember what happened 20 minutes ago, but not five. I had a dim feeling of impending doom, which I could think of by a horrible slow motion film loop of me vomiting down a girl's back, which I saw a guy do once here in Oklahoma. This would be the humiliation of all humiliations, of course--and this vision, combined with my inability to make a sentence to ask for a drink at the bar, ultimately led me to Bill.

"Dude," I said, "you've got to take me home. I got The Fear."

Which I did. Everything was starting to swim and I was sweating like something was really wrong with me, which I guess in retrospect was in fact the case. Bill looked at me, saw my pupils were two different sizes, and nodded his head in acknowledgement of my situation.

"Hey, someone call this guy a cab!"

This shocked me into wakefulness, as he dragged me into the bathroom for two great big ol' nostrils of what would keep me on my feet til I got downstairs and into the cab. He handed me his housekey.

I remember very clearly seeing his eye through the hole at the top of it. Or maybe it was his nose. Anyway, he held it and gestured with each word:

"Jeff, this is my only house key. Are you sure you can make it home OK?"

"No," I muttered, to which he smacked me on the shoulder and told me that I'd better leave the front door unlocked. The cab came. He paid the guy, and suddenly I was being awakened (empty drink glass in hand) at the curb near Bill's house.

It took me about 20 minutes to get the key in the front door, and another 10 to get it turned. I crawled up the stairs, vomited in the toilet, and curled up on the rug.


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