Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nurse the Hate: Hate the Vacation

I was wildly out of control. My parents had left for vacation and abandoned my brother and I in our suburban Columbus home. I was 19 years old and had been left with something like $400 for food for the week, which was clearly some sort of attempt on my parents part to buy their way out of the guilt of abandoning their children. It wasn't like I needed the money. I was a Union Man. That's right, I was a member of the working class and a card carrying member of the UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers). If you needed someone to pack your groceries or "clean up on aisle six", I was your guy. I worked at the Dublin OH Kroger Grocery Store with a collection of other college students, fuck ups, and degenerates. And now I had $400 in my pocket with no adult supervision.

I immediately bought $20 in frozen pizza and $380 in imported beer and liquor. The frozen pizza would keep us alive like we were Chilean miners. The booze would get my social life in high gear. Tequila was my weakness at the time, and I could drink more of it than anyone you have ever met. This is not boasting, this is a pure and simple fact. Keith Richards and Jimmy Buffet would have ended up in the hospital if they went out with me during this admittedly "dark" period. Migrant farm workers spoke of me in hushed revered tones.

Earlier that Spring I had broken up with my first truly serious girlfriend at the end of our sophomore year. Well, actually, she dumped me. This was actually a splendid turn of events as I spent that Summer running around without any sense of responsibility or consequence. If you ran into me that Summer I would like to apologize for my behavior. I'm sure I did something terrible if I came anywhere near your orbit. I was a terror. Why anyone was interested in spending time with me, I couldn't tell you. But yet, I had quite a crew of folks at the Kroger under my spell. I was the "fun" guy. I was also much, much older. Most of my party pals were 17 or 18, while I was the ripe old age of 19. My worldly experience must have been mesmerizing. I was a guy that could score a twelve pack, find an acid dealer, or score Smiths tickets. I was cool like Damone in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Except I didn't get Jennifer Jason Leigh pregnant.

So my parents were in Mexico. I completely left my brother to the wolves. I don't really know if he ate that week. I don't even know if he slept at the house, or fended for himself in a back alley downtown. I could have cared less. I was holding court at my parent's house with a revolving cast of grocery store fuck-ups swinging by drinking free booze, blasting the stereo at my frowning neighbors. The real culmination of the week was my "Thursday Fiesta" where I made margaritas and burritos the afternoon before my shift at the grocery store. There was about 12 people living it up including a feisty young gal from the deli that had her eye on me. I noticed she was really drunk by the time I had to go to the store, so I told her to crash out here, and I would meet her when I got back. As I went out to the car, I pulled my shell shocked brother aside and said, "Make sure she doesn't leave. I'll be back in six hours."

It was a good plan. It was a simple plan. What could go wrong?

I can admit now that I was very drunk when I walked into that Kroger. I didn't really matter. Thanks to my place in the Union, I could have shot someone in the parking lot and not been fired. A 19 year old walking in drunk at Kroger wasn't even noteworthy. Hell, I was even more charming than usual bagging groceries. Well, until the booze wore off and I was kinda hungover. But I was a pro, and knew how to tough it out. I was just killing time until I got home and enjoyed the feminine wiles of the charming gal from the deli. It was all coming together exactly as I had foreseen.

When I mercifully was allowed to clock out, I drove home expecting a quiet reception. I figured The Deli Gal would be curled up on the couch, maybe watching Billy Idol videos on MTV with my brother lurking nearby. I would elegantly open a couple green bottled imported beers and have a cocktail with my gal. Then we would retire to the bed chambers and I would do unspeakable things. Sexual techniques that might not even have a name yet. Events that would require years of deep psychotherapy to sort out properly. (Look, I was 19. These were my goals. I was sick then. Now I am saved. More or less.)

You can imagine my surprise when she was gone and my brother said, "She left about 2 hours ago.". This was a crushing disappointment. Although it was not nearly as disappointing as 20 minutes later when the doorbell rang and the Worthington Police were standing there on my front steps with her dressed only in a bra and panties. This was bad.

What my brother had failed to tell me was he sat at the kitchen table with her that afternoon as she knocked back a sixer of Carlsberg Elephant Beers, at the time the highest alcohol content beers on the planet available to a 19 year old in Columbus, Ohio. She decided to take off her clothes and take a walk. OK. That may have been worth mentioning. Now there was a lot of explaining to do. A whole lot of explaining to do. Why was this girl walking around the neighborhood drunk and half naked? "Umm... I don't know sir, I was at work. However, I'm sure we can get her to bed." Amazingly the police left her to my care. Looking back, what kind of cop would leave a 18 year old wasted girl in bra and panties with a 19 year old punk and his 14 year old geek brother? We should have been executed. At least pistol whipped.

So when a co-worker told me today he was leaving his teenage kids at home while he and his wife went to Jamaica, I said, "I'm sure it will be fine. How old is your son? 17? I'm sure he is mature." Meanwhile, I am wondering how I can swing by next week for "Margarita Thursday".


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