"I want to get into modeling so I can prove my parents wrong" she half yelled over the din of the crowded bar as she marked a tally indicating this was her 7th shot of tequila on her inner wrist, next to the daintily scripted "faith" tattoo. "They told me I'm not pretty enough to be a model." "Oh, wow, really?" I shook my head and continued sipping my first beer of the night. I shuffled around in the little footprint of real estate I'd carved for myself, occasionally nodding 90s R&B jams and shifting to avoid the contact of men with no regard for personal space or the inappropriateness of touching strangers.
What seemed a while but was probably really only about an hour and a half later, I bellied up to the bar and asked for 2 bottles of water. One for her now and one for the road. The fellow next to me was also not 22, as my new acquaintance is, and gave me a nod of respect for keeping things under control. We made it out in one piece aside from the comically domino-esque spill we all took on the way to our patiently waiting Uber (lesson learned: if they're going down, let them). She rode back to my house in the back seat with her face out the window in a not un-canine like fashion. I pulled out the sofabed and dressed it and while my friend helped her into the house. I observed with some combination of concern, disgust and mild amusement. My friend comforted her while she sobbed into the toilet, lamenting her various life choices and probably the disapproval of her parents. The last I checked her wrist tally had been at 9.
I don't usually go out on "amatuer nights" as I like to call them. The big drinking holidays: St. Patricks, Cinco de Mayo, etc. My dear old friend who's just not quite all the way finished holding on to her sorority girl days and eager to show her young new friend a good time talked me into it, and after watching the two of them in my kitchen take 4 shots of tequila in succession to pre-game, we were out on the town. I think the best part of my night was chatting with the one fellow who bought me a beer. I wasn't interested in him romantically at all, but he was in agriculture and had come up with some interesting sustainable way of managing food waste. It made for better conversation than the sea of green-clad dudebros nodding "sup."
Even when I was her age, if I went out with a group of girls, I have always acted a bit like a herding dog. Never really easing up and cutting loose because I am peripherally watching the friend of a friend in the group being cornered by a lecherous admirer, or this other member of the tribe is inconsolable after a cryptic text from this guy she's seeing, or someone's fallen off their stool and spilled her drink on herself. Oh, you'e gonna be sick? Let's get you to the bathroom.. or that potted plant will do. okay.
As I was writing this I remembered that she got sick on my front lawn. Must remember to hose that off when I get home. I'm really glad I'm not 22.