I Was Their Sober Queen





Keep this date in mind: 5/12/12 (the night before Mother’s Day, a SATURDAY, if you must know)

I don’t go out as much as I used to. I’m happy staying in and tinkering with my newest wall gaze.

But being back in DC, tonight I happened to catch a rare ride on the weekend post-midnight, pre-Mother’s Day subway. There was track work. And apparently an important Caps game earlier. Perfect. You couldn’t set up the ingredients better for something to happen.

All track work and no play makes for a typical subway. 

When I descended into the subway platform for the preliminary part of my two-leg journey, there was a couple making out on one of the benches but the woman was sitting on the man’s lap, and her friend was lying down prostrate next to them (let’s call ’em Three’s Company). And occasionally, the girl in the couple would smack her friend and go “SHADDDUP” even though her friend wasn’t saying anything. First level of drunk hell.

Then, before I could make any sound judgments, the train came, we all got on like the genteel, misunderstood specimens we were, and it duly plopped us at our next transfer point.

It seemed unlikely there would be further incident.

Except at our next platform, the train wasn’t due for another 20 minutes. And there were no benches. And Three’s Company is stuck there, like jammed clockwork! So obviously, the couple lies down on the ground spooning. And the friend, not to be outdone, lies down nearby and puts on sunglasses. Second level of drunk hell.

An accessory to public intoxication!

At this point, I sensed, this is probably “not allowed.” And measures might be “taken”. And sure enough, ten minutes later, a bunch of subway employees appeared for a very brief and uneventful sting operation, in which they stood over Three’s Company and stared at them, trying to guilt them into some kind of recognition of their crimes. As this resulted in no response, one of the employees finally said “Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse me. Excuse. Me. You have to get up.”

At this point, Three’s Company slowly peeled themselves off the ground, seemingly offended at the rules in this train bar, if you could even call it a bar, what with the lousy service! The couple propped themselves up against each other, and the friend, sunglasses still at full mast, slumped herself into a sit against the station name pole, giving her a real Weekend at Bernie’s feel. Third level of drunk hell.

But alas, it didn’t stop there. Because at that point, a crowd of crewcut rabble rousers (let’s call ’em The Jerks) descended into the station, talking in that shouty, condescending volume associated with drunks who are still at the height of their Five Hour Energy bell curve. They took one short look at Three’s Company and turned into a razzing storm. Nobody gets more self-righteous then the sauced making fun of the more sauced. Fourth level of drunk hell.

The Jerks were joking around with the subway employees, asking if anybody had ever pooped their pants before, waving their hands in sunglasses’ lady’s face who had passed out by that point, still taking the time to flirt with some wide-eyed beautiful Swedish tourists who were, against all odds, also sitting on the ground, on a Swedish flag no less, and all in all, creating a well-choreographed PSA for giving up.

Then the train came.

And none of these people got in the same car as me. It was a Christmas miracle!

Or rather, a fake out by fate.

Because soon I got another colorful cast of characters. A girl who got on the train shouting about how her hair hurt and her boyfriend and his friends who decided to sing to pass the time. Fifth level of drunk hell.

Not to be outdone, despite being 3 stops away from my final destination, at the next stop, 2 guys and a girl get on (let’s call them Three’s Company 2: the Sequel), all toasted. The girl immediately addresses the entire car: “Does anyone want to play a game?” Sixth level of drunk hell.

I would have never seen it coming, but Hair Hurts girl is up for it. Oh, except the entire game is just “not holding anything on the car.” That was the first attempt at explaining the rules.

The second attempt was “You have to stand up and not hold anything in the car for balance while the train is moving.” Better. Way more clear. Hair Hurts girl is not up for it. Literally. “Nope, I will fall right down.” LOVE self-awareness in drunks. Wish you saw more of it.

Shots, shots, shots, and misses!
Nobody wants to play the game, of course. So Three’s Company 2 bravely plays alone, which involves a balancing act that is a cross between a beginning capoeira workshop and failed auditions for Cirque du Soleil. To nobody’s credit, there were no major tumbles. And to one of the guys’ debit, he did a pull up for no reason at one point. Seventh level of drunk hell. Actually, eighth with the pull up.

Meanwhile, Hair Hurts Girl and the girl in Three’s Company 2 strike up a pointless icebreaker conversation with each other, as if they would ever remember any of it, let alone the entire night again.

At this point, I was in prime eavesdrooping mode with the simple but effective alibi of a half-started crossword Sudoku in my lap. (Note: Eavesdrooping is when you’re eavesdropping and nodding off at the same time. Happens a lot on public transit.) And, shrewd detective that I am, I learned that Three’s Company 2 needed to switch trains at the stop where I was getting off in order to get to the right destination. Suddenly, a call to action.

So as I was getting off the train, I helpfully tapped the least drunk of them on the shoulder and said “You need to switch to the Orange Line here to get to where you’re going.” This guy went into Freaky Chicken Mode, and without even thinking, he immediately pushed his drunker pal out the door onto the subway platform.

Except then the doors closed. And the ultimate nightmare of all drunk people everywhere happened. Drunkest guy got separated from his friends. And then he started howling. Not yelling, not screaming, but howling. From the depths of his wolf spirit guide, out it came. Team Jacob FTL. And his friends slapped the door yelling “We’ll come back. Just stay here” as the train pulled away. Ninth level of drunk hell.

And I realized, I, the designated soberface of the night, caused the biggest mess of all. And that’s where I went wrong. You don’t bring your logic and reason into the world of substances. You let things run their weird, messy, hit-and-miss course.

And that’s why I don’t go out much anymore.

On that note, GOODNIGHT. Please join me next time when I explore FEELINGS.

*grand gesture of closing a curtain*

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