Sunday, February 12, 2006
My friend Ouija, and the craziest night of my life...
Okay, okay, what I'm about to spill didn't happen to me recently. It happened a few days after New Year's last year. I was about to experience the wildest night of my life.
I'm posting this story now, because a few friends told me it's time to share...they want to hear what this "infamous" night in my life was all about. Read on and I will tell...
To celebrate New Year's 2005, I flew out to Los Angeles for the FIRST TIME in my life, to visit an old high school friend named Ouija (seriously, that's her birth name). She was quite a superstar at my performing arts high school. Going to school there and being in the drama department was a little bit like going to the high school in Fame, although I certainly wasn't in the spotlight with the drama students. In fact, I avoided the spotlight as much as possible in high school, as I was painfully shy back then. I focused on playing the string bass in the orchestra, and spent my weekends mostly alone and unpopular, drawing and sketching in my bedroom, and joining what few friends I did have for an origami club. In any case, Ouija definitely wasn't the shy type. She commanded quite a bit of attention, especially when she donned a platinum blonde wig and played Marilyn Monroe in our school's tour show. That image seemed to fit her personality perfectly. She lit up a stage.
I came to find out that despite Ouija's popular persona, she was actually going through quite a rough time at home. Her family was having all sorts of difficulty, which I won't go into here, but it was enough to affect her schooling. I was also experiencing all sorts of personal drama at home, from my Dad's new marriages, a shift of custody for me and my brothers, and my burgeoning homosexuality. Somehow, Ouija and I became unlikely friends, on our high school bleachers, during our daily lunch period. We would talk a bit about our "issues". However, at the time, I was unaware as to the seriousness of her home life. She was one of the few people I told in high school that I was gay.
Even though we connected during that brief lunch period, we lost touch over the years after graduation. I was absorbed in my art career. She missed most of Senior year. Life went on, and we traveled down the roads our creative talents led us.
Somehow, due to the newfound connection of the internet, we got back in touch in 2004, right before our 10 year high school reunion. So we decided to go together!
It was great seeing her again, and seeing everyone else from school. High school reunions are usually well attended events where the football players and cheerleaders return to their thrones, if only for a moment, and have a chance to intimidate a room full of people once again. But that wasn't the case for my high school. Like I said, it was a bit more like attending the school in Fame. Instead, everyone seemed to be on equal footing, which was nice for a change. The people who were celebrated were the ones who were successful; the ones who had bettered themselves since high school; the ones who hadn't gotten fat (haha) and moved to the suburbs, and who were living happy lives. I felt respected by peers who in the past would have ignored me.
In the midst of all the rekindling of old friendships, in walks Ouija, looking as fabulous as ever. She had a calm and collected air to her. She had blown in from the West coast at the last minute to attend the reunion. She cooly sized up the room, and she chatted up a few old drama class friends whose life paths had taken less-than-fabulous turns. When we spoke one on one, it was as if no time had passed between us at all. It was refreshing to see she was the same Ouija, only now she had the newfound perspective of someone who had seen a bit of the world, and could more expertly appraise the value of people. She lit up the room with a "realness" that can only be associated with someone who had followed their dreams in life. I was instantly infatuated with her personality again. We had both grown into ourselves nicely, and we were both following our interests and making them real.
You see, she had moved out to LA to pursue a career in acting. She had the look. She had the talent. And I knew she had bumps in her road similar to mine, as far as family went. I sensed the difficulty of her past had helped her become a survivor. I think it made her determined to make her dreams come true. I felt similar things, and I admired her for grabbing life by the balls and chasing the possibility of making it big in Hollywood. She confessed she had always admired my drawing talent, and respected the fact that I was still pursuing my dreams. I have to give her credit for inspiring me to move to a bigger city (New York), to follow my dream.
We kept in touch after the reunion, and caught up with the details of each other's lives. She brought up the idea of me traveling to LA for a visit. She knew I was feeling limited in Atlanta. So at the end of 2004, I planned a week long trip to LA starting New Year's Eve.
Once I arrived out West, Ouija and I greeted each other like long lost friends. It was so exciting to see what her life was all about. She was following her dream! We had a great time ringing in the new year with her friends, and over the next few days, she showed me what West coast living was all about. She living in Venice Beach, and was working freelance doing various commercials and movie projects, sometimes as an extra, and sometimes with a bigger part. It was neat to see her in such a different environment from high school.
Even though my visit was wholly inspiring and led me to contemplate a serious career move, I did experience a night of debauchery I will never forget.
Maybe it was a mid-mid life crisis, or maybe it was the fact that it was a brand new year, but Ouija and I got into a bunch of trouble on my last night in Hollywood. Perhaps together, we're just combustible, like a match and gasoline. Or maybe she's a bad influence on me, or vice-versa. I know she was feeling a bit unhinged at the time due to recent boyfriend drama, but who knew we would end up where we did that last evening of my trip.
My last night in LA was a weeknight, and Ouija and I decided to finally hit West Hollywood, or Boystown, as they say. I was ready to see what the gay bar scene was like, and Ouija desperately needed a break from her unappreciative boyfriend, who was giving her grief during my visit. I considered her such a great catch, and here was a guy who was being a jerk. So we broke away early in the afternoon and headed into West Hollywood.
I believe it was two or three in the afternoon, and we decided to get some drinks. We needed a little break. I could tell she needed to blow off a little steam, and I wanted to savor the last night of my vacation. We stopped at a little Tex-Mex bar and grill and proceeded to order margaritas.
It wasn't long before we had downed several each, and we still ordered more. What is it about a vacation and a new year that makes it seem as if you can hold more liquor? Three rounds were finished, then four...
We started realizing that if we kept up that pace, we wouldn't make it far into the night, so we split. And as embarrassed as I am to admit this, for the first time in my life, I just got up from a restaurant patio, giggled, and left a place of business without paying for what I had ordered. I don't know what came over Ouija and I. Totally buzzed from our drinks, we thought it was HILARIOUS that we were getting away without paying. We were being so stupid. It was if we had reverted back to being in highschool once we were reunited.
I believe that what ended up being our destiny that night was major karma coming back to bite us in the ass for ripping off a few drinks.
We stumbled over to a neighboring gay bar/cafe after our escapade, laughing the whole way. Once there, we continued drinking, which really wasn't wise for six in the evening. We should have taken a break, or eaten something to absorb the alcohol, but we didn't. To make matters worse, at the time, my doctor had prescribed an anti-deppressant for me to curb a bit of anxiety I was carrying around (Hey, it's America). I had only been on it for a couple of months, and I was still getting adjusted to it. My doctor and I had discovered that it eased my OCD tendencies, and lowered my stress levels. I wasn't supposed to be drinking heavily while on it, but...I guess I wasn't taking the warning seriously. I was on vacation! I was being a FOOL.
Well, we got pretty damn wasted. Ouija had a friend who met up with us, but unfortunately for him, by the time he arrived we were completely soused. I cringe at what a horrible first impression I made on him that night. He quickly realized that he was going to have to do a lot of drinking to catch up with Ouija and I. We were shitfaced, and probably terrible conversation company. We were sitting at a little cafe table with our beers, and Ouija made a declaration.
"It's time for SHOTS!!!" The waiter promptly delivered three. I have no idea what they were. Then we had two more each. At this point in the evening, everything gets hazy for me...
When I awoke, I was lying on a hard, cold surface. I had a terrible taste in my mouth. I noticed vomit on my shirt. I was in a small cell in what seemed to be a PRISON. I thought it was a dream. How in the world could "I" be in a PRISON??? This is NOT REALITY. I desperately tried to wake myself from the nightmare, only to realize that, YES, I WAS AWAKE, and very much in A REAL PRISON CELL. How did "I" end up in PRISON??? THIS sort of thing DOESN'T HAPPEN...to ME! ...but it did. (And now, it's given me such great writing material.) The other thing I thought was, "where IS OUIJA???"
I didn't immediately rise from the hard, cot-like bed that was built into the wall of the cell. There was hardly a mattress; hardly a pillow. They sure don't want you to be comfortable in prison. I scanned the room, and saw there was a utilitarian, industrial-looking toilet built into the other wall, right next to the door. It wasn't even out of view of the guards! The only door to the cell had a small window in it, that revealed only a small square of what was going on in the hallway. Every once in a while, I saw the stern face of a guard float by, as they patrolled the hallway. I was scared shitless. I couldn't believe where I was. I couldn't believe what was happening to me. I wanted to cry. I felt so embarrassed, and so pathetic.
After lying on the cot, trying to cry myself back to sleep, so I could wake up from this nightmare, I finally rolled off, and got on my feet. The smell of my own vomit on my shirt was making me sick, and making me sick of myself. I slowly walked over to the window in the door, and looked both directions down the hallway. A guard finally walked by, and I pathetically tapped on the glass. Amazingly, he stopped and stared at me. I can't imagine what I must have looked like through the little glass window. In my most polite, humble voice I asked, "Excuse me...what did I do?" I knew I was not in a position to be demanding. His look was filled with trained disgust, but I thought I almost saw a small, subtle half-smile crack across his face, as if he was enjoying this as a joke. He forced it away, and the disgust returned. He told me I was so drunk I was unable to walk, to carry myself, to throw-up without it getting all over myself. I felt even more pathetic. It was 6 a.m., and he told me they had placed me and my friend in "holding cells" until we sobered up, and could return to the public.
Thank God, at least I knew it wasn't permanent. There was an end in sight. I just wondered when it would come. And I knew Ouija must be in a similar situation. I returned to the cot, and again, tried to force myself back to sleep. As much as I tried, I was too freaked out to rest. Instead, I thought about the guard. I tried to make light of my situation. I convinced myself it was all an "interesting life experience" that I could turn into a funny story later on. I thought about the guard again. Considering my situation, I don't know how my mind was able to go where it went next, but I passed the time fantasizing about him. He WAS kinda' cute. He mentioned I was in the West Hollywood police department holding cells, so I couldn't help but wonder if this West Hollywood guard outside my cell was a gay officer. I know, I know...how completely INAPPROPRIATE!!! But, I was trying to make light of my situation. It was my only defense mechanism! The guard was a shortish, trim Asian guy, with such a handsome face. I couldn't imagine him out and about on the street chasing down armed criminals. Perhaps he worked as a guard in the holding cells because his straight colleagues felt it was the safest post for him? The half-smile on his face I witnessed earlier only added to the evidence that he was either "new" or not as tough as his exterior sternness let on. A little scenario played in my mind, involving him entering my cell and...well, I'm not going to go there. This isn't Blueboy magazine, but you get the idea. Wouldn't it have made an amazing story if this part came true? We WERE in West Hollywood.
Anyway, 10 a.m. finally rolled around, and the door to my cell opened. A different guard ordered me to get up and follow her down the hallway. She too, had been trained to treat anyone in my situation with complete disgust. I was taken into a small office between the cells, and the front of the station. There was a glass window separating my office with a neighboring office. I saw a guard bring someone into the other office---it was Ouija!!! We got a glimpse of each others face and our eyes jumped out of our heads and met in the middle. We shared the kind of look with one another that only rabbits share with one another when communicating about a predator in the wild. I'll never forget the mixture of embarrassment, shame, fear, and absurd humor etched across her face as we stared at one another. It was so comic!!! Her mascara had run all down her face, and her hair was a mess. I'm sure I looked like hell, too!!! We had both just spent the night in a holding cell!!!
After completing a bit of paperwork, we were scolded about drinking and public drunkenness, which we found out, was our only offense. Humiliating!!!
Apparently, based on the police report, (and based on what we later found out from the gay bar owner), Ouija and I had gotten a bit...unruly in public. Supposedly, Ouija and I were so drunk we made a bit of a scene, with her giving me a lap-dance in the middle of the cafe area of the bar. She dipped and danced all around (a true performer even when drunk) as her friend and the patrons of the gay bar looked on in horror. She and I ended it with a big lip-lock, messy kiss, and then, according to the reports, I passed out on the cafe table, while Ouija bumped and grinded with tables and chairs. Then, the owner of the bar came over and opened one of my eyes. Considering they were dialated (from my medication and alcohol interaction), he "decided" I was on narcotics or something and called the paramedics. When they arrived and proceeded to inspect me, Ouija got a bit...um...intrusive apparently, to the point that someone called the police. I suppose Ouija just didn't want the fun to end, because she made it clear that no one was taking me anywhere, and so, the police cuffed her to get her out of the way. Once the paramedics realized I wasn't dying, I was cuffed as well, and we were both forced into the back of a police car. Of course, I don't remember all of this, but apparently, it happened. To this day I can't believe it! Though, I think we were the victims of an overactive bar owner.
It was all so HUMILIATING! Thank goodness it happened in LA, and I never have to go back there ever again. However, now that I have a bit of distance between this event and my current life, I hope it provides you with a bit of entertainment. It's the only reason I'm offering it up, because otherwise it's embarrassing and seems SOOOOOO unlike me. I guess I should laugh at it all now, although at the time, it certainly wasn't funny. Well...actually, AFTER we were released, Ouija and I did have a good laugh! It was ALL just TOO absurd. I definitely learned my lesson. I will never mix lots of drinking with high doses of that medication again. In fact, since that event, my medication has been reduced to the lowest possible dosage level, just to make sure there's never any kind of interaction like that. I would go off of it completely, but it does help reduce my perfectionism/OCD tendencies. Without it, I can literally paralyse myself with my perfectionism, which isn't very productive.
Ouija and I still share moments from this story with one another when we want to make each other laugh. We'll always have this New Year's story to look back on! It sure shook us up...and I'll never forget the look on her face when we first saw each other upon release. She later told me she shared a holding cell with an Hispanic girl who was on her way to jail. Ouija says she felt so sorry for her because she seemed hopeless. She even told Ouija that she had little kids, and that she missed them, and hoped to get back to them if she ever got out. I guess that gave Ouija something worse to compare her trouble to. I wonder what happened to that poor Hispanic girl who was going to "REAL" jail? I guess we'll never know.
Thankfully, Ouija and I only experienced "prison" for one night. Perhaps we'll live more freely now that we know what that kind of confinement feels like. I know that since then, I've follewed my dreams...moving to New York. Thanks for the experience, Ouija! Here's to following a dream! I hope your dreams come true in Hollywood!