Sunday, September 2, 2007

Drunk Driving and Waffle House Lesbians: A True Story

a personal essay:

Life is full of moments, says the Wonder Years voice inside my head, moments defined by choices. Some are easy and some are tough, but only a few involve drinking, driving, lesbians, and Waffle House.

College. Sophomore year.

"When I say saki, you say bomb! Saki! Bomb! Saki! Bomb!" Five girls in tight jeans slap their fists against the counter, plopping cups of warm saki into glasses of cold beer. The liquid gurgles like alka-seltzer and they slurp it down, squint their eyes, stick out their tongues, and do it all over again.

At the edge of the table I sit, saki-bombing at my own pace. I'm a slow drinker but I don't care, because I just beat my ex-girlfriend Noreen in arm-wrestling.

"Kate," she says, tapping the bare shoulder of her blonde-tressed friend. "I bet you can beat him."

Kate is our designated driver, or at least she's supposed to be. Her lips slur into a smile. "Okay, Alex." She squeaks her elbow into position. "Let's do this."

Thump. Two girls in one arm-wrestling. I'm tipsy, but Kate? Her eyes are not only wobbling; they're threatening to disappear into the back of her head. She's gone. She's wasted. "She shouldn't drive," I say.

"You're so uptight," is how Noreen answers me.

"Let's go!" Kate announces with gusto, peeling her credit card off the checkbook.

Outside it's sweaty and August, and a couple of the girls cradle their high heels, their pedicured feet tip-toeing across the empty lot. They fumble into the car behind Kate, who's waving her keys like it's Capture-the-Flag.

"Get in," Noreen demands. Kate clicks on the ignition. I played with your heart, Oops I -

"What's the rush?" I ask Noreen, leaning against the window sill. "Why can't we wait till Kate sobers up?"

"Get in the car or we're leaving!"

Oops, I did it again. I cross my arms into a tight X. If this night's turning into a bad Saved by the Bell, consider me Mr. Belding, but less goofy, more schoolmarm. I step back from the window and slam the door shut. Good-bye. The tires squeal into reverse, peeling into the glowing noise of Peachtree traffic.

I'm stuck. I don't have enough cash for a taxi because I spent it all on saki bombs. My male friends can't pick me up either, for they're gulping whiskey at an apartment party. I'm stuck. That's what I get for drinking with my ex-girlfriend and her Yia-Yia sisterhood.

"I can call somebody," says a quiet voice behind me.

It's April, a skinny apple-cheeked girl who I met earlier that night. She also wasn't confident in Kate's ability to drive, but she was decidedly less vocal about it than I was.

"Who can you call?"

"These friends of mine," she says, "but it might be awkward because I didn't tell them I was going out."

Ten minutes later, I follow April into the backseat of a Nissan Xterra, where we find two black girls: Jasmine, Amazonian-tall with broad shoulders and thick ropy dreadlocks, and Laila, arched eyebrows and a dark tanktop. Jerri's at the steering wheel, brushing aside her curly mop of blonde hair and shifting the car into drive.

"Thanks for the ride," April offers meekly.

Silence answers, but this is no ordinary silence. This is a you-don't-ask-us-out-but-you-do-ask-us-for-a-ride silence.

"I'm wearing Care Bear pajama pants," Jerri says.

Conversation over.

Our next stop is not the dorms, but Waffle House, where a pack of crew-cut women in tie-dye poke through poached eggs at a window booth. I conclude with 98% likelihood that these ladies like other ladies in that way. Jasmine must have made the same conclusion, because as we approach the doors, she jiggles Laila's right boob with gleeful abandon. The tie-dye women point, laugh, and cheer. Jasmine and Laila beam with Olympic pride.

Where am I?

"I need to buy a new vibrator," Laila declares, her way of blessing our waffles. Let's eat. "I need to buy a new vibrator as soon as possible."

By avoiding a Saved by the Bell, I've stumbled upon a live and uncensored episode of Waffle House Confessions.

Jerri, she of the Care Bear pajama pants, contemplates the sexual merits of boys and girls as if comparing brands of jam. If girls are Smuckers, then Jerri loves herself some Smuckers. Meanwhile, April discreetly sips her ice water. Am I an unnecessary accessory to this table? What do they need me for?

"We should go to a gay black strip club," says Jasmine, twinkle in her eye. "I want to see some penis."

"You guys watch The Amazing Race?" I ask, throwing it out there. "They got a gay couple on there."

"I love that show!" Laila says. Jasmine must love the show too, because she gives me a swift kick under the table.

If Noreen could see me now, she'd see a Mr. Belding unlike the one she knew, a Mr. Belding who can roll with the punches, who's anything but uptight. I'm not that innocent.

Jasmine and Laila are gone. April and I think they're in the bathroom, but Jerri didn't find them there. It turns out they went to the store across the street:

The Starship Enterprises Adult Video.

My first porn shop experience is a definite Kevin Arnold moment, for I observe the silk-curtained scenery with absolute wonder. As the stench of stale McDonalds fills my nostrils, I join several sets of bloodshot eyes gazing across a United Nations of fetish and pleasure. Diversity in action. If I was a transsexual, I would be doing cartwheels right now. The girls purchase something long and blue and battery-powered, and then we leave.

"I'm very horny," Jasmine whispers back in the car. "Don't let me sit next to Alex because I kind of want to rape him."

I laugh with this gigantic female, for I do not wish to be raped tonight. She spares me.

Life is full of moments, moments defined by choices. Some are easy and some are tough, but you'll always remember the ones that take you to porn shops with strangers who want to rape you.

Don't drink and drive.



Anonymous said...

Your big mistake was going to the Waffle House. If you had gone to Denny's, you would have been surrounded by the simple, garden-variety drunks. These folks are far less complicated than the drunk lesbian with biceps the size of your thigh.


Michael said...

what did you order?

Alex Pollack said...

What did I order? At Waffle House or the porn shop?

This didn't fit in my essay, but I'd like the record to show that Starship offered boxes of
"Boobies & Peckers" pasta. That's right, pasta shaped like, well, yeah.

Michael said...

what did you order at the waffle house? you should call waffle house corporate and suggest they pick up the boobies and peckers pasta for their menu.

David Ogles said...

I had an unconscious question in the back of my head, and didn't realize what it was until you mentioned Starship. Now I know you were at the Waffle House on Cheshire Bridge Rd.

That somehow makes the story much better for me, but I don't know why... maybe because the rest of the patrons at that particular Waffle House were either strippers, or had come from a strip club; thus, the only person who could potentially be embarrassed by Jasmine's vibrator comment was you.

Which is funny in that Larry David way.

Anonymous said...