Seeing Life Through The Bottom of a Boones Farm Wine Bottle
by Michele Christopher
So while I'm waiting for Turtle to come around (I think he finally got himself back on California time) and while I'm looking for an excuse to ignore this pile of work on my desk (hey, I'm a gov't employee, it's what I do), I figured I'd tell you a story of my own. I mentioned something about a night of debauchery in this post, and someone hit me up on gchat wanting to know more about it. So here goes.
1980. Senior Trip. We're going to Disney World! Don't ask me why my parents agreed to let me go, given my reputation for causing or getting into trouble. Maybe they figured the chaperones - Catholic high school teachers - were of high moral fiber and integrity and would watch us like Jesus watching down from the cross. Saving our souls from the dangers of Disney, I guess.
Not quite. The first night of the trip, the typing teacher was making out with a student. The history teacher spent the evening in the motel lounge, a stripper in one groping hand, a constant glass of gin the other. One teacher was spotted in a rent-a-car making out with what looked to be either a really big girl or a guy with a blonde wig. We know all this was true. Because we saw it. Well, someone saw it and told us about it. So it had to be true. Doesn't matter. Fact is, the chaperones were all AWOL that first night. Doesn't matter if they were fondling students or trannys or strippers, they weren't around. They weren't watching us. So much for Jesus saving our souls.
No chaperones, no problems. This was 1980, like I said. Drinking age was 18. That meant most of the kids on the trip could buy beer and liquor. With no one to keep us from being a danger to ourselves, we left the motel in search of a convenience store. Well this was Kissimmee. Tourist haven. We had our choice of stores and spread out. This was our first night. We hadn't even hit Disney World yet and we ready to fuck off Space Mountain and the Hall of Presidents. We were gonna make our own rides here. We took two shopping carts from the Safeway lot and loaded them up with our wares. Cheap beer, Boones Farm wine, some generic vodka and ice. Hey, we were kids. It's not like we could afford gin and strippers like the teachers.
Back in my room, we turned the bathtub into a cooler, filling it with ice and enough cheap alcohol to get all of us and probably all of Kissimmee buzzed.
Ok, let's get this party started. I had some ridiculous flavor of wine in my hand - not a glass but the whole bottle. Strawberry something? All I remember is that it was way too sweet and I kept washing the flavor away with shots of something that someone had stolen from motel bar. Might have been Goldschlager. Something that was like huffing gasoline through your esophagus.
So here's where you find something out about me. I've never been a good drinker. In fact, my nickname at the time was "One Drink Michele." Yea, I was a cheap date. One drink and I was buzzed. That doesn't mean I stopped at one drink, though. I just got drunk a lot faster than you did. I was a drinking machine that night and I floored the engine, going from buzzed to wasted in about three minutes flat. The amount of shots and wine and beer I was putting down was enough to put my drinkometer somewhere around 200. Stupid? Yes. But you know by now that my choices regarding drinking and drugs back then were very rarely smart ones. If ever. Especially when you consider that as I sat there drinking eight times my weight in alcohol, I was doing the puff, pass, pass thing as well. Oh yea. Stupid is as stupid does.
So there I was, stoned and drunk and drunk and stoned and any other combination of buzzed, wasted, loaded you can come up with. And then: Shit. The room. Spinning. Voices going in and out of my head. Are my friends talking to me? What are they saying? Why can't I understand them? Faces fading in and out. Lights flickering. Or maybe that's my conscience flickering. I stand up. Sway. Sit back down. Try to talk. Slur every syllable. My tongue is thick and in my way. Stand up again. Fall back into the chair. Stand. Fall. Wheeee! Who needed Disney when you had all this?
An intense pain worked its way from the base of my neck, up my head and down into my eyes. Oh yea. Cheap wine, cheap pot and the I'm-about-to-pass-out anxiety was doing a number on me. I sat in the chair, willing myself to just go catatonic and be done with it. I was pretty sure I was going to die. Or at least wake up five years from now all shriveled and full of useless limbs and bedsores in a Florida hospital, my parents nowhere to be found because they sued the school district and ran off to start a new life in Tahoe with the money. My mind does funny things when I'm drunk. Anyhow, I probably looked as bad as I felt because Tina was suddenly there, taking care of me, putting a cold towel on my head and rubbing my back. She was my best friend at the time, even though I was really starting to hate her and her giant breasts. Don't ask. Really. Don't ask.
So what happened next? This is a struggle. Give me a minute while I switch tenses again. I do that a lot, I know. Oh yes. I'm on the chair. Tina. Helpful Tina. She waves a little tin of white pills in front of my face.
"Take these," she says. "Tylenol. You'll feel better real quick."
Ok. Cool. Feeling better real quick sounds pretty awesome to me. I take two of the little pills she handed me. She smiles. Pats me on the head. Grins. What the fuck? I am two? Why are you looking at me like that?
But in minutes - or maybe it's hours, I can't tell - my headache's gone. Not as good as it seems. Because it's been replaced with other things. I'm having trouble breathing. My chest is tightening up. My fucking lungs are going to collapse. I. Am. Going. To. Die.
I feel my eyes roll in back of my head, the way it happens when you are falling asleep while watching tv. I keep trying to snap myself out of it. I'm terrified. I'm going to die. Right here and now in some skanky motel room in Kissimmee, Florida, in a room full of half dressed Catholic high school students while my chaperones fucked each other or strippers or students in the rooms next door. That coma/parent scene in my head is replaced with a funeral/parent scene and I feel my mind slip.
I think the last word that goes through my head before I fall on the floor is scandal.
Tina's there first, all in a panic. I start to say something, but she puts her fingers over my mouth to shut me up. She leans in close and whispers something to me. Don't tell? Don't tell what? Pills? Huh? Oh. Oh. For fuck's sake. Jesus Fucking Christ. No. That bitch. I should have known better than to trust her and her gigantic fucking breasts (don't ask). Those pills she gave me were not Tylenol.
I asked her what she gave me. At least I think I ask her. I'm sure I said it out loud. But maybe it was just in my head. Everything's unreal. I can't tell if I'm dreaming or awake or maybe dead already and God's really pissed at me and he's making me spend eternity at this stupid motel party in Kissimmee. I'm going under again. Eyes rolling back in head. This is not good.
I feel hands on me and I'm being lifted up and then thrown on the bed. Cool. They're going to do something to make me better. They're going to fix me. Or call an ambulance. Something. Anything. That's what friends are for.
They leave me laying there. They continue partying and undressing and drinking and smoking. I lay there on one of the twin beds, itchy motel comforter scratching my skin. It's all I can feel. I can't move my hands to scratch. I can't move anything. I just lay there and itch and try to talk and itch and try to yell. Nothing. Just the itch.
And then, I die. Well. Not really. Obviously. But I think I'm dead. I'm sure I'm dead. Tina's there saying something to me and I'm trying to answer her. But I can't. I can form the thoughts in my head; I can see and hear everything that's going on. But I can't respond. I can't talk. I can't move. My limbs are stiff. My entire body is frozen in a semi-conscious state. I struggle to reach my hand up, to scream at Tina, but I'm paralyzed.
I hear Tina scream. "OH MY GOD, SHE'S DEAD!"
Shit. They think I'm dead! I try again to talk, but it's like one of those nightmares where you scream and nothing comes out. A million thoughts run through my head at once, none of them good. They're gonna bury me alive. Or, they are going to throw me on the side of the highway and claim that I had just gone missing. My parents are going to be pissed. What a stupid way to die.
They're shaking me and poking me. My muscles had just gone slack and useless from the wine and liquor and pot. And whatever that was Tina had....
"What the hell did you give her, Tina?" Some voice. A male voice. A panicked voice.
"Tylenol, I swear!" Tina's voice is shaky. Fucking liar, liar pants on fire. That's what's going through my head.
They prop my head up on a pillow.
"You have to keep her head up so she doesn't choke on her own vomit."
I'm watching. Listening. Just not responding.
"Tina, you have to tell us what you gave her."
Kerry dives for Tina's purse. Tina tackles her. I see this all unfold, like a movie playing out just for me. Tina's little tin falls out of her purse. Kerry grabs it. Opens it. Looks in it. Hauls off and smacks Tina clear across the room.
"What. The. FUCK? What the fuck is wrong with you? These are Quaaludes!"
"I just wanted to see what would happen!"
Her exact words. My "best" friend risked my life for some kind of bizarre science experiment.
Oh shit. I'm going to die, die, die. Overdose. My poor parents.
The rest happens on super speed. I'm being lifted off the bed, stripped down to my bra and panties (oh jesus I think they have a hole in them, I should have listened to grandma). Ice. I'm on the ice in the bathtub. Shower is turned on. Hot water streaming down on my face and frigid ice up my ass.
Finally, I can move. I can talk. I have something to say. I can talk. It comes from the bottom of my soul, gathers momentum all the way up my throat and out of my mouth and it's supposed to be a scream but just comes out in a hoarse, tired whisper:
"Tina, you fucking cunt!"
And then the typing teacher is there, telling everyone there's no need to call the police, no ambulance needed. Our room clears out, all the drunken seniors stumbling back to their own rooms. Cups are cleared, beers taken away, wine dumped down the toilet. The teacher takes me back to her room where she and another chaperone - I think the one with the strippers and gin - watch over me through the night. I feel like such an ass.
That was the end of my friendship with Tina and her giant breasts (don't ask). I spent the rest of the Disney trip with the drama club, ignoring everyone who would have rather watch me fall into a coma than ruin their party time.
Last I heard, Tina was living on the east end of the island, making her living as a crack ho. True story. I swear. Her giant breasts finally served a purpose.
I still can't look at a bottle of Boones Farm wine without feeling sick. Then again, most people can't. I just have a whole story to go along with it.