It starts in Austin, TX. At least, that’s where I’m starting it… (it being this story). As any half-decent narcissist, it starts with me.
I came to. I was in my own bed. This was a good thing. I was awake, and I was in my bed, which means that I’d made it home. I attempted to piece together the previous evening.
I lay in bed.
Looking for any sign that I was in an altercation, I checked my head for wounds, bumps, gashes, and knots. A potential explanation for the headache – any reason other than booze as to why it felt like a burly woodsman had beaten me with a fifteen-pound salmon.
There were no welts or bumps. The damage was internal.
I rose from my bed – a marionette, limply tugged by the hidden strings of sobriety. I wanted to put on pants. I lost what little balance I had. I fell to the carpet. I slammed my right shoulder into the wall. There was a swift collapse.
That I was still drunk came as no surprise.
I situated myself for a second attempt at the whole pants thing. My right foot acquired its target without issue, and there was only a light stumble as its partner followed suit.
I opened my bedroom door, took a couple of short steps, knocked, and walked into the room next to mine. My roommate, Ramirez was in bed with Lady 1. On the floor next to his bed was a half-empty bottle of tequila and a couple of glasses. Their party had gone a bit later than my own.
Stumbling down the worn, white stairs, and onto the landing, I made my way into the living room. There, Lady 2 lay on my couch, and Lady 3 on the floor. They were almost decorative.
Footnote #1: Lady 1, 2, and 3 knew me in the biblical sense.
(Quick note here: if I’m going to tell this story correctly, then you need to understand the situation… and this situation just happens to involve waking up with a bloody-murder type hangover with three women I’ve slept with lying around the house – try not to read into it too much)
I took a seat on the couch.
“How you feeling?” Lady 3 said.
“I’m completely fucked,” I said.
“Yeah, me too,” She said.
Lady 3 was sprawled, facedown on the floor, and with each breath her perfect, rotund, I-don’t-care-how-much-I-hate-stretchy-pants-wearing booty moved up and down. It reminded of the scene in Jurassic park when Sam Neill leaned on the dying Triceratops, and he felt the enormous creature breathe. The 45 second mark, for reference.
I was trying to participate in the conversation, whatever it was about, but I couldn’t really concentrate. For the moment, I was preoccupied. Butt cheeks. She had ‘em.
The apartment looked like shit. There were beer and liquor bottles on counters, tables, and floorboards, strangers’ clothes were piled and hung in corners and on patio furniture, and it seemed that at some point in the earlier hours of dawn, a person had brought over a gallon of salsa, bean dip, and chips, eaten half of them and then smeared the other half on the dining room table. The floor was caked with the remnants of half-hearted mixed drinks – vodka drinks splashed with six month-old soda, tequila and iced tea, frozen peas substituting as ice cubes, whiskey, etc. The floor smelled like a putrid combination of lime zest and smegma. The furniture in the living room had been pushed aside and the rug removed – evidence of a hat party.
Footnote#2: hat party, definition: a joyous occasion in which people in attendance are forced to wear one of my many hats. I choose who wears what. If an individual thinks it’s a dumb idea, then they are forced to imbibe the nectar of the gods and listen to loud music until they can resist the temptation no longer. Hats are worn.
We spent the next hour listening to the radio. Ladies 1 and 3 cracked open a beer and packed a couple of bowls. I drank water. The conversation was intermittent and enjoyable, jokes and non-sequiturs directed at anybody and nobody in particular, alike. All parties present were simply doing their version of the dance – that routine after a hard night out where you do anything in your power to feel better, which can go from the mundane (greasy breakfast of bacon and eggs, toast and home fries, four cups of coffee, and a nap) to the more extreme (hair of the dog into a couple more beers into shots at the bar at noon into an afternoon stupor, and when it’s finally over, you don’t have a choice in the matter, you’ll be sleeping for a while).
As it was my last day in Austin, I made the point of meeting up with an Ex of mine – Lady 4. I left the hangover posse on the floor and made my way to a pizza joint down the street. Lady 4 and I ate lunch – a couple of slices and a salad. I ate tentatively, aware that at any moment I might vomit. I drank water. I drank more water.
Lady 4 told me that I was in rare form the night before.
“You were there?” I said.
“Oh yeah, I came after work,” she said. “You were drunk.”
“Right,” I said.
“There were, like, twelve of you guys on stage,” she said. “The karaoke lady shut the microphones off, but that didn’t stop you… I had a good time… You seemed very happy…”
We talked about how things were. We talked about keeping in touch. We talked about how we’d done a good job of salvaging a friendship. We talked about family and friends. We said goodbye.
I walked back down the street to the house.
I lurched into the living room. I was surprised at how exhausted I was, simply from eating lunch. Ladies 1, 3, and Ramirez were lying on the cool, wooden floor, and their heads lay on pillows. Beers were within their reach. Lady 2 lay on the couch. In the hour I’d been gone, no one had moved further than four feet. I sunk into the soft cushions of the white couch and grabbed my jar of water. The radio was still on. Lady 3 smoked a bowl. Lady 1 drank a beer.
My flight out of Austin was at 7:00am the following day. I had yet to pack for the three-months of travel. There were foreboding signs that it was going to be an unproductive day. Later that day, after the Ladies had left, I managed to start packing.