a driver’s nightmare: drunk passengers
I don’t like to drive after dark on a weekend, but I am also a sucker for completing a goal.
Weekend nights are when the drunks appear, and when I was new to the game I really loved them. But I learned.
What I loved was early in the night everyone is excited, smells nice, looks nice. Giddiness.
After a certain hour people get sloppy, then they get sexxed up, then there’s a pause and they are either sad or angry. The sad ones appear because they got sex and either wanted more or it was bad. The angry ones were because they didn’t get any or they didn’t even get close to getting any.
Sometimes the sads would cry in my backseat.
Because UCLA had a game today I didn’t go to the Westside because the last thing I wanted was some 19 yr old kid in the back of my Benz hurling white claws and Takis all inside my moneymaker. Until the podcast is self-sustainable, it’s all I’ve got. I can’t get back on the pole.
But because of Murphys law, trips in Atwater Village ended up in Glendale which ended in Eagle Rock which ended in Pasadena where UCLA had beaten Utah and sitting next to me on a weekend after dark was a pimplefaced visitor from Salt Lake City nodding off due to all the beers he’d injested before during and after the game.
In the backseat were is his two “bros,” also Utah students. And I shit you not, one was a little person.
Why wasn’t he in the front seat, which had been pushed forward to give regular sized people in the back more leg room? For the same reason I was driving in Pasadena after dark on a weekend during a full moon: idiocy disguised as fun.
Our destination was a nearby Mexican restaurant. I turn to the kid next to me and I say, “you’re drunk and you look like you’re 17.”
He says, “I may be drunk, but I’m legal.”
Friends in the back raise their eyes from their phones and laugh.
“When were you born?” I ask. Unfortunately for them I wear a K95 mask when I drive. The shits still out there. But beneath my mask I’m smiling because I know there’s a barf bag in the glove box. Wait is it? Oh no, I never replaced it from when I sent it to the back seat after the skinny Black model said “car rides make me nauseous.”
“1999,” he said.
23? I thought to myself. This kid looks like he could have been in Season 1 of Stranger Things. But whatever, I had a goal to hit and the restaurant was only 10 minutes away through wide, dark streets lined with mansions and giant trees. Whoever booked these boys their Airbnb should be commended.
Before we got a block away there was quiet because my buddy was nodding and the boys in the back were texting or scrolling or snapchatting so I said, “so how do you like Utah?”
Dude says, “I’m only a Freshman so it’s only been a few weeks…”
“SO YOU ARE UNDERAGE!” I said, finger pointing to the roof.
“I, uh, I…” he stammered, friends laughing in the back, nobody passing us on the streets because even though it was only 8:30pm, the wealthy in Pass had tucked themselves in.
“… took a gap year.” he said.
Friends cracking up in the back.
“So youre 19?”
“I took two gap years.” he corrected himself.
Howls in the back.
“Where did you go?” I asked.
“Just plead the Fifth,” the friend in the back who should have been in the front said. but if he had been in the back for sure he would have puked by now, so maybe it was the man upstairs looking out for me. Which he does a lot. And I am grateful. I had been driving for 9 1/2 hours. Miraculously neither my arms nor hands were hurting. Although my right foot had begun to ask for union representation.
“Australia,” he said, which made his friends laugh louder. Me right with them.
“Ok let me get this straight,” I said, watching the road, but keeping one eye on this guy because if he puked my night would end, I’d have to try to clean it in the dark. And tomorrow, a Sunday, I would have to find a detailer to rid the Benz of the stench. Nightmare.
“You’re telling me at the beginning of COVID, you somehow were able to get on a plane and fly around the world to Australia where you partied for two full years, and then decided you’d begin the next portion of your life not in Ibiza, but Salt Lake City?”
Laughter and no barfing ensued and I decided it was time to stop pressing my luck and head home. Got on the 134 east and figured I had a 20 minute drive ahead of me, if someone pinged me wanting to go to Hollywood I would pick them up. First one I get was from Eagle Rock to the heights of Glendale. 12 minute drive in the general direction. What could go wrong?
She was waiting outside a nice restaurant. She had been drinking for four hours. 40s. Inappropriate black dress. Messy hair.
“I was stood up,” she said. “And I’m too drunk to drive home. I just want to get into my bed,” she continued and mostly got in the back seat.
Older people rarely puke I told myself remembering the time, not long ago, when I went to the Hollywood Bowl with a pretty girl and her sister and we pregamed at my place and drank a few at the Bowl and it was a very hot night and my buddy had brought sandwiches from that good deli on the west side and I don’t like pickles but I was drunk and forgot to check and ate a pickle and… I was all, hey is that Frank Sinatra? and pointed to the left and hurled to the right.
And I was probably the same age as this lady who eventually got in the car.
As we drove she told me that she had… well she told me a lot. A LOT. People tell me everything in an 8 minute daytime ride, but they tell me more than I want to know on a 13 minute drunken nighttime therapy session including how much the rent is and the guy she shares a bedroom with but not a bed and what he hasn’t done in two years which inspired this nice slurring woman to meet up with an old flame tonight who had been her bf in high school and who had texted her earlier in the day saying how excited he was to dine with her but then never showed and never texted back so she just sat at the too big table and downed one vodka soda after another. for hours.
so i asked, “so do we hope he was kidnapped or murdered?”
it was quiet back there. i play sinatra when i drive through glendale. just like the americana on brand.
“no, he’s sweet, mostly.”
“ok,” i said, “here’s probably what happened. he was on a back road for some reason and there was an accident ahead of him. A woman was thrown from her convertible and when he got to her she was bleeding and he had to apply pressure to the wound. Also, there was no reception out there. so right now, only because he has applied pressure is she still alive and he will call you after someone gets an ambulance out there.”
and beneath the sinatra you could faintly hear a little sob back there.
another reason i dont drive at night