As I drag my listless body up the hill to my apartment in the harsh daylight of 8 am, I question my sanity. Did last night really happen? Did I just dream that? What the fuck even was that dude’s name? I replay the images of the previous night from start to finish. Yep, it happened. I can’t tell anyone about this—the shame of it all. I will have to take this to the grave.
My resolve to pack it in lasts all of five minutes. As I fumble with my keys to get into my apartment, I am greeted by my friend Monty, the live-in building manager. He takes one look at me in my Walk of Shame attire and gives me an exaggerated eye roll. “Again?” he asks. I slowly walk down the hall toward him to reply, “You have no idea.”
He and I trudge downstairs to smoke cigarettes in the courtyard, where Monty takes his rightful place on the hammock. I plop down on the picnic table across from him in my full after-party regalia: a ballerina pink couture dress with a sheer top where fabric flowers adorn my chest. I cross my legs, staring down at my five-inch heels and the audacious tutu overtaking my body. Monty doesn’t bother to make fun of me—he knows how I got the dress. Our neighbor, a competitive pole dancer by trade, gifted me this costume the night before. Before the crazy. Before the whiskey.
It is a rare occasion when Monty is speechless. I take it as a compliment. Monty was privy to the fact that I had become “comfortable” going out alone. I didn’t need anyone to hold my hand, damnit. I had a fool-proof strategy to secure my safety while being alone in the epicenter of fun in Los Angeles. I frequented The Echoplex, a venue where music played while hot, tattooed hipsters bought me drinks. The previous night was no exception. My strategy included befriending any and all sober people working at the venue: bartenders, bouncers or managers. The irony of it all.
The night started with me drinking a fifth of whiskey before going out. That’s what Uber is for, obviously. The show I plan to see at The Echo makes little difference to me, mainly because I can’t remember the band. When I arrive at the venue, a bouncer cards me. He flirts with me and I take note, like a lioness zeroing in on her gazelle. This moderately attractive (sober) man will do just fine, I think. He grants me access to the first floor, where I promptly order a drink. I pretend to pay attention to the band, whilst scoping out my peers. To be honest, I like my cigarettes more than the music. What a bore; my dress is more interesting than this band. Let’s see what I can do.
I close down the bar, as per usual. I cash out, then look to see that the bouncer is approaching me. We prattle on about more things I don’t remember. He takes me to the VIP room where reggae is blaring and purple haze engulfs us. We drink expensive whiskey and he asks if I want to go home with him. I respond to his question saying, “Don’t ask me things you already know the answer to.” I am in full-on huntress mode—I ask the questions.
He drives us to his small apartment somewhere close by. At this point I am fighting to stay awake. I don’t put on any pretense as I am ready to get things going. He takes me inside a darkened space that is cluttered to high heaven. I quickly take in my surroundings. On my first scan of the room, I notice a pile of VHS tapes strewn about the carpet. He owns such classics as Rocky Horror Picture Show and Primary Colors. I hope this guy doesn’t try to kill me.
I pounce on him just so he will stop talking. We start making out furiously. I disrobe him as he attempts to whisper sweet nothings in my ear. I swat him away, but he is not discouraged. We start to have sex, then he whispers, “I love you.” I look at him in utter disbelief. A split-second later, I channel Cher in Moonstruck when Nicholas Cage professes his love to her. “Snap out of it!” I shout. He laughs. I cringe. I remember what my friend always told me about crazy guys, that they make great lovers. He does not disappoint. After the deed is done, I ask him what he does for a living, other than bounce. He tells me he is a magician. I pretend not to hear him. He continues to talk as I fall into a comatose sleep.
I wake up to the disruptive clanking of my alarm. Shit, I have a conference call in an hour. I need to get out of here. I nudge [unidentified man]awake. He moans and grunts something unintelligible. I tell him I need to leave, could he give me a ride? I tell him I also need water and an ibuprofen immediately. I ask if he has any bottled water, please. He points me in the direction of the bathroom for the pills. I return with a pill and repeat my request for water. He tells me he has some water on the floor somewhere, maybe under his desk? The room is dark and I can’t see a damn thing. I trip over some junk, clumsily reaching under the desk for my relief. I grab the first bottle I find. I take a huge gulp, then do a spit take. “What the fucking fuck is this?” He begins to laugh. I start to gag. “I asked you a question. What the fuck did I just drink?”
I sprint to the bathroom to wash my mouth out. I look at myself in the mirror to curse the day I was born. How did I get here?
I storm back into his bedroom where he is doubled over with laughter at my misfortune. I demand to know why he stores his own urine in a water bottle, next to where he sleeps. He can’t stop laughing long enough to answer me. I stare at him, fuming. “Answer me. Why the fuck do you have your own pee in your room? How lazy do you have to be?” He replies between hysterical fits of laughter.
Monty stares—mouth agape, spellbound. He is as shocked to hear this as I am horrified to say it. We look at each other for a solid minute, expressionless. He excuses himself to get some coffee, returning a few seconds later with two cups. He asks how I take my coffee. Cream and sugar, thanks.
He pauses to glance at his coffee mug. I know we are both thinking the same thing:
Look before you drink.