This post was originally published on June 8, 2015.
My friend Shana was having a birthday gathering at a bar in Los Feliz. I was 28, and thought I was the coolest thing ever in my near-anorexic state (thanks to the appetite-annihilating Adderall and cigarettes I consumed). The few calories I did take in at the time came from vodka.
At the time, I had this razor-sharp black-red pixie haircut, and, being totally insane due to a mixture of mania and alcoholism, I often wound black ribbons around my wrists as a sort of fashion statement. Or I would wear an apron over my jeans as a feminist manifesto.
I was over the rainbow. My friends even told me so.
I was plenty tipsy by the time I got to the party, having guzzled booze in between styling my hair and winding the ribbons around my wrists. Still, the second I walked in, I needed a drink. I greeted my friends briefly, and then walked to the bar.
At this particular bar, getting a drink took a good 20 minutes on a Saturday night. So when I saw hordes of people waiting desperately to get their drink on as just one dude tended the bar, I decided to take matters into my own hands.
The rules didn’t apply to me, you see—I shouldn’t have to wait. And as that bartender, a burly guy with blonde hair and a brutish face like a Nordic warrior, came close to me, I flirtatiously rubbed his back to get some VIP attention.
“Don’t touch me!” he growled the second I pulled back my arm.
“Calm the fuck down,” I snapped.
We had both met our match. In his defense, he was totally slammed, pouring five drinks at a time, and it must have sucked to have nobody else out there on the floor.
“Don’t tell me to calm the fuck down, you stupid dyke!” he screamed.
I happen to be very pro-dyke, so I didn’t take that as a pejorative. Instead, I just yelled, “I hate to break it to you but I’m 100% heterosexual and I would never fuck your fat ass!”
I don’t usually talk like that, and I certainly don’t enjoy making mean comments about anybody’s appearance, especially to men. But I was hyper and drunk and I needed a drink.
“I’m not serving you,” he said.
I stormed back to my friends, explained my dilemma, handed my debit card to my friend Chris and said, “Buy yourself a drink on me, and get me two Cosmos.”
He was more than thrilled to have a free drink on me. And his mission was successful. After I’d guzzled those Cosmos within oh, about 20 minutes, I noticed a second bartender had joined the surly Nordic. Needing more booze, I got up and stood near the crowd.
After a bit, this other bartender, who definitely resembled a Los Feliz bartender more than the blondie with his tall lanky body, shaggy black hair, white skin and general air of indifference, asked me what I wanted. Then the mean Nordic chimed in.
“Don’t serve her, she’s a cunt.”
The other bartender just stared at us.
“I’ll have two Cosmos, please,” I told him.
“No, don’t serve her,” Nordic insisted.
The other bartender backed off and went over to someone else.
“Fuck you!” I yelled at the Nordic.
“Fuck you, you cunt!”
“Give me back my card!”
“You don’t have a card!”
“Yes I do, it’s Tracy Chabala!”
He found it somehow, literally threw it at my face and I walked over to my friends in a huff. Turns out two guys—the bartender and the bouncer—were following me.
“We’re going to have to ask you to leave,” the bartender said.
“Oh really?” I said. “Well, I just have to use the bathroom first.”
I stormed into the bathroom, which was shockingly empty, locked the door and congratulated myself that I’d been so clever and outsmarted those gnomes. “How dare anyone ask me to leave my friend’s party?” I thought. “I’m a lady, not some dude! Didn’t they know who they were dealing with?”
The bouncer banged on the bathroom door.
“Get out of the bathroom!” he yelled. I just smiled to myself. Then I realized I had my pepper spray in my purse, attached to my keys. Ahhhhh, I’d get them back! I twisted the cap just right so if they broke down the door, I’d be able to spray them in the face.
No, it didn’t occur to me that I could get arrested for something like that. I was so viciously angry, viciously drunk and viciously manic.
Bang, bang, bang!
They yelled for me to come out but I stayed in there, dancing around like a loon, laughing to myself. I checked the time—it was already 1:15 am. I decided to stay in that bathroom, which was a real shitty move since I’m sure some ladies had to piss out their cocktails, until the bar closed.
They kept banging and yelling, and I finally just got bored. So, with them still right outside, I held the pepper spray in my hands, and opened the door.
The bouncer was in my face.
I sprayed him. But I must have been so drunk I didn’t realize it wasn’t aligned properly, because it sprayed way to the left of his head. He immediately knocked the pepper spray out of my hand, and escorted me out the back.
I’m ashamed to say he didn’t drag me by the collar, drag me by the hair, or punch me, even though I deserved it. Instead, he was a perfect gentleman, and for some reason that enraged me.
Right outside the door, I grabbed his jacket and started flailing my fists at his head.
“Let go of my jacket!” he screamed.
Apparently, I’m stronger than I thought, because he couldn’t pry open my hand.
“Get this crazy bitch off me!” he screamed again. The other bartender came out and tried to pull me off, but he didn’t have any luck. I kneed the bouncer in the balls. Then my friend Chris came out and also tried to pry me off the bouncer, but he had no luck.
Finally, they enlisted the help of the valet guy, and with the strength of three grown men, they were able to tear me away.
Vodka. It’s like steroids for crazy bipolar bitches.
Sadly, I drove home after that. And when I woke up the next morning, by which I mean 4 pm, I opened my eyes to a fuzzy world—my head throbbing, my mouth parched—and began to piece the night back together. Then I looked at my arms—there were bruises all over them from where Chris and the bartender and the valet had tried to wrestle me off the bouncer.
My back hurt. My arms hurt. My head hurt.
It became completely obvious what I needed to do. I would have to take care of myself. I would need to take this seriously, and, in my moment of clarity, I decided to do the right thing. And the right thing was to go to Burke Williams and buy myself a $120 massage. This would help the soreness caused by the fight, and the cucumber water would help my body detox from the alcohol. Plus, after the night I’d had, I certainly needed to relax in a jacuzzi and steam room.
I would up in AA three weeks later, after a two-week stint in the psych unit.