I’m rudely awoken from a deep slumber by the siren-wailing of a cell phone. There better be a fire causing this late-night interruption. I squint my good eye towards the too-bright screen, read 8:14 dismayed, and am disappointed to find no emergency just a text from one of my friends. “BLACK FRIDAY TIME! WHAT WHAT. WE R MEETN @ WALMART N 30,” I hate text speak as much as these late-night booty calls. 8 pm cocktails, house parties (at their mom’s place), all-nighter’s watching Sleepless In Seattle while crafting with a room full of ugly-pajama-ed ladies? After so many rowdy invites to post-7 p.m. dinners and girl’s nights, I am well-conditioned with response.
me: “It’s 8:14-and-a-half. Are you drunk?”
friend: “??? DRINKIN MILK RIGHT NOW. NOT SHOPPIN TIL MIDNIGHT BUT MAYBE GET DINNER @ TACO BELL 1ST”
me: ” You’re out of control”
friend: “LOL “
me: “It’s one of them raves I bet. With glow sticks and the drug pills? Heading down a dangerous path young lady. Late nights and wild company.”
friend: “LOL? WHAT? SO U R NOT COMIN?”
me: “Clean up your act, missy. Your poor mother.”
me: “Exactly. Your addiction has affected me in the following ways:”
friend: ” U SERIOUS? IS THIS PHONE INTERVENTION? AGAIN?”
I normally follow that up with a slew of old sayings about morality. Occasionally I throw in some Bible verses to really drive the point home. Then I urge these lost souls to drive themselves home and watch Golden Girls before turning in for the night as the moon pops up. Things get weird when my own mother calls to invite me to some depraved music night at my grandmother’s house. She gets the same speech because I believe in tough love. Kids these days.
Friends typically follow that up with talk of my being lame, the only 80-year-old 25-year-old they know, and questions about how I got so boring. I disregard their insults because they are so far from the truth. Tom and I once shared a margarita at the Applebee’s. I even stayed up til the wee hour of 10:32 one New Year’s Eve. And not to toot my horn, but TO-TO-THE-OOT, I’ve beat many a neighborhood kid in a dance-off. I might look like the early bird loser, the old hag who’s lost her mojo, but I assure you, friends, just because I don’t doesn’t mean I can’t … raise this roof and break it down, tear up the town, drop something like it’s eight kinds of hot. Proof, you say?
Wee hours of Saturday morning, I’m heading to Kroger, my
cost-saving club of choice. I’ve taken extra care to primp before the party: deodorant and eco-friendly tote bags under my arms, mascara and a sparkly shirt because shorties gotta look fly and also this VIP establishment has a strict dress code. No Shirt. No Shoes. No Service. I strut my stuff past fake velvet ropes partitioning a holiday cupcake display and wait for those sliding glass doors to open up to party paradise. Ah! The air is thick with lilac perfume of older bar flies and the stinging scent of alcohol in lemon sanitary cleaner form.
As a veteran of this wild scene I know I’ll need some liquid courage to connect me with my inner bad-assed-ness. Just my luck, it’s Ladies
Night Dawn. Free shots overfloweth, so I down three or four complimentary Dixie cups of straight black coffee. “Woo! It burns so good,” I wipe dribble from my chin and make flirty eyes with the older gentleman beside me. He’s mixing creamer into his cocktail, adjusting his golf cap and mumbling something about wars. “Sorry! This place is crazy loud! Can’t hear you, boo. So you went to Iraq?,” I’m nearly yelling over the booming base of the bakery’s dough mixer. “World War….,” he says but I have to interrupt because I hear the first beats of Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” and my groove waits for no man.
“Ugh! THIS IS MY JAM! I JUST WANNA DANCE!,” I feel the itch of youth and freedom and funk rising from tapping toes to swaying hips. I hear a pop, feel a cramp tightening in my bad knee, but I rally. Before I know it a space has cleared on the dance floor by the deli counter. I’m busting out cart twirls and wheelies, hair sways and shimmying over the lobster tank. The Wallflowers stare, no doubt impressed, from their shy little corners of the cereal aisle. Something tells me they are Wheaties types and I feel sorry for them. Right here. Right now. I am wild. I am CoCo Puffs.
I am tossing boxes and packets and cans into my buggy with little regard for the economy. I feel the loosening of inhibition and chug part of a Mountain Dew before I’ve paid my tab. My brain is suddenly singing “Sippin’ on dat sizzurp” a rap lyric I picked up one time when I mistook the hip-hop station for NPR. Normally I’d be worried that my inner voice sounds like she flunked out of public school, but right now gangsta seems more relevant than grades.
Within minutes the coffee is getting to me. My eyes are vibrating. I think I could barf. Remembering too late never to drink the hard stuff on an empty stomach, I scoop a few napkins full of crackers and Cheese Whiz from the lady behind the samples stand.
As any clubber knows, the later segments of the night come in flashes with humiliating and incoherent dealings spread in between. There was a The 2% Incident I barely recall, slipping belligerently while holding three gallons of milk. A stranger bends down to help me up. He points to some random yellow sign and says “CUIDADO” smiling. “No habla? No habla that. I’m fine, sah-eriously, I’ms totally fine,” I’m slurring and forgetting my name and wishing I’d remembered to wear underpants, the ones with my address and phone number scribbled on the band.
At checkout the bag boy’s face is swirling. I maybe mention I am “trippin’ out, bro” as he compliments my earth-saving recyclable grocery bags. In the way most sloppy girls do, I think all people are trying to woo me. I say thanks and tell him I’m married but he’s super cute for a 13-year-old and why’s it so hot in here? and can you stop talking so loud? and probably I shouldn’t be allowed to drive home. The woman behind the counter asks for my number, but I’m too street smart for her game. She’s a player, as the young folk say, gettin’ dem Kroger Card digits from just about errbody. I slip her my card anyways because I really don’t want to pay full price for bananas and because it still feels good to be wanted.
And then I’m pulling into my garage. I don’t remember the mile-long journey. I stumble from the car, exhausted from all the whooping it up. “Somebody went a little crazy, ” the husband remarks as he pops the trunk to find mementos of the discount drunken: no bread but three half-gallon tubs of butter, no toilet paper but two packages of festive cocktail napkins. I can only respond with guttural moans, the belly full of drink and head full offensively fragrant super-market-smells making my face throb. I walk a crooked line into the house, wiping away running mascara and plucking a mysterious smiley face sticker off my hand. The clock is blinding me, flashing 8:43. I lay face down and sideways across my bed, I kick a shoe off and prepare, as ballers before me, to sleep it off. One last thought is thunk before the black out:
Mama’s still got it.
Has your meaning of a good time changed with age?