“Are you ready?…” I could hear her as she stomped into the building and headed up the front staircase to our second floor apartment like Godzilla rolling through Tokyo. “Why is this door locked?…Let me in!…I know you’re in there…Can you hear me?…Come on,  we need to leave – Oh my God – are you still sleeping? Get up; we’re going to be late! Don’t do this to me. Open this door right now!!…Do I need to kick it in again!!! Don’t piss me off…”

That’s exactly how I was rudely woken up by my friend Weezie screaming and kicking at the front door of my apartment. Both of my roommates went to Albany for the weekend so there was no one else to let her in. I tried my best to ignore her, but she was relentless. “Get up, its 4:45 and you know it starts at 5 O’ Clock!” she implored.

I slowly peeled off my Navy Blue Tempur blinders and tried to steady myself. (Don’t you dare roll your eyes at me – those blinders are so comfortable and so soft that it’s actually as if you took your head and shoved it right up a sheep’s ass – seriously, they’re that soft!) As I tried to get my bearings, I knew that I should be in my own bedroom and should be sleeping in my own bed, but nothing seemed familiar at all. It felt like I had been turned upside down and was looking straight into a hall of mirrors. I knew that I should just lie back down and ignore her, but the truth is that she really would have kicked that door in again if I didn’t get up. Ignoring her would only lead to an assault!

“I’m coming” I groaned as I slowly lifted myself out of bed “Stop screaming before I smack you again.”

“Try it Bitch, and you’ll see what happens” she growled through the door.

I don’t think I can accurately describe my friend Weezie. She’s the type of person who feels that it’s more important to scream every word as opposed to speaking like a normal human being. I thought I had gotten used to it after five years, but when you’re hung over and the equilibrium is far from steady, being anywhere near Weezie is never the right choice. She was one of the toughest players on the girls Rugby team, but she was freaking hysterical and one minute with her would have you laughing your ass off. She’s a lot of fun and one of my closest friends, but that girl is legitimately crazy. When she says she’ll kick in a door – she means it.

As I opened the door, her glance told me that she wasn’t amused. There she was: one arm strategically placed on the left hip of her sparkly black formal dress and on her face a look of disgust that I can’t even begin to describe. She was ready to go out for her big night and here I was screwing that up. For some unknown reason, I had thought it was a good idea to stay out the night before until 7 AM and then sleep the day away. This would normally be her routine as well on a Saturday, but offer up free booze and she’d scale a wall for it.

Her Formal for the Girl’s Rugby Team started in less than fifteen minutes and she was not amused that I had just opened the door in grey Calvin Klein boxer briefs and a ripped T-shirt – obviously not dressed and ready to go unless by the word Formal they meant that trailer park chic was the dress code. I didn’t even want to go because I was hung over and felt like crap, but the prospect of a top-shelf open bar for five hours really enticed me. My girlfriend didn’t mind me going with Weezie and most of our friends were going, and did I mention that it was open bar so, I thought, why not.

Weezie pushed past me and went straight for a Coors Light as she started playing with my dog. When I say that, I don’t mean to beat around the bush and try to sneak in a sexual innuendo – I mean that she was actually playing with my dog, Smokey. I tried to sit on the couch and make small talk by saying that she looked nice and that I would like a beer too, but it did no good. She gave me a look and then offered me ten minutes before it was going to start getting physical, so I got moving. Once again, when I say that I don’t mean to beat around the bush and try to sneak in a sexual innuendo – I mean that she would literally smack the shit out of me! I tried to pull myself together because I knew she wasn’t above using a slap or an elbow to the gut to motivate. She said she’d walk Smokey, to speed things along, and I asked if she would make me a sandwich since I was starving.  

“Are you kidding me? Did you just ask me to make you a sandwich?”

“You make it like I asked you to clean the toilet – it’ll keep you busy while I get ready. Come on, I’m starving.”

“You can eat when we get there – We’re gonna be late.” 

“Weezie, when you’re worth it they’ll wait.” Picture her unamused.

About fifteen minutes later, I was ready. Anyone who knows anything about me knows I was under duress to be ready in fifteen minutes. I locked the front door behind us as we headed down the steps. (This is important – I normally never carried keys or bothered to lock the door but my roommates made me swear to do it before they left for the weekend because of people coming in and taking stuff. It was a safe town and they didn’t think twice about anyone stealing the TV or DVD Player – the crime they were talking about was beer theft. Lisa used to sneak in (sometimes through the keyhole and sometimes through the front window – she is a small girl) and take the beer. She’d then blame Weezie who my roommates would scream at and accuse of lying when she tried to deny it. I knew it was Lisa but didn’t care because it was hysterical how crazy Unibrow would get. Unibrow was one of my roommates and we called him that because he was from New Jersey. I’m kidding, we called him that because he had the bushiest strip of felt impersonating two eyebrows that I have ever seen on a man’s forehead. It was as if Bert on Sesame Street had a baby with Peter Gallagher.    

As we were leaving the front porch I said “Weezie, will you put my keys in your bag? My pants are tight and I don’t want to have two distracting bulges.” She put my keys in her bag and cracked a smile so I could tell that she was loosening up a bit.

“I’m really hungry – what are they having for dinner?” I gently asked.
“Hooka, I told you they’re not having dinner – it’s passed food” She rudely responded back with.
“What? Who doesn’t serve dinner? It’s five hours long.”

“It was cheaper this way so the planning committee thought people would eat first to keep costs down”

When she said cost-effective, she really meant it. Their idea of offering something to nosh on was nachos, potato chips, and pretzels. I thought they might be putting the real food out later since this must obviously be a joke, so I started drinking to fill my stomach with something. I was going through my vodka phase and just took a tiny bit of orange juice to gently color the vodka a bit. Little did I know what a dangerous game that would be to play on an empty stomach…
“Weezie, when are they putting out the other food?”

“They have nachos right there – eat those.”

“Are you kidding me? I don’t eat with my hands remember…”

“You and that OCD bullshit again…”

“They don’t have any silverware or napkins either, how am I supposed to eat anything here?”

By seven, I was drinking heavily and dancing violently. I apparently thought it was my job when Michael Jackson’s Beat It came on, to get in the center of the dance floor screaming the words and busting out a few karate kicks. I looked good, but I’m clumsy normally so a kickin’ beat and all that alcohol did nothing to stop me from bumping into almost everyone on the dance floor.

That’s actually the last thing I remember of the Formal. I don’t have any recollection of the events for the rest of the night following that dance. My recollection is that I had a lot of rhythm and looked really hot, but some pictures have surfaced that drastically contradict that idea.

I have heard many stories of my activities from those missing hours, but since I can only hope that they are exaggerated, I refuse to accept them as fact. What I do recall is being surprised that a December night with so much snow could feel so hot. I was sweating like rice pudding left out in the sun all day.

The next thing I remember is walking down Main Street towards my apartment. It was just about five AM on the Savings Bank digital clock. I had absolutely no idea where I had been since the bars closed at two or where Weezie was. I also had no idea where my shirt and tie were for that matter as I was now only wearing my white undershirt. For some reason it also wasn’t as warm as it had been earlier. Did I mention that it was December in Upstate NY?  

When I got to my building, I tried to open the front door but it was locked and I didn’t have the key – Weezie did. Right about then having two distracting bulges didn’t seem like such a big deal after all.  

That’s when I remembered about the back fire escape that led into my bedroom. I had never actually used the fire escape before, mostly because I’m terrified of heights and partly because the slumlord that rented it to us actually said never to use the fire escape. It wasn’t really attached to the house and actually banged into the house on windy days. (The building was being torn down after the Spring Semester and was actually condemned). There was also a lip in the doorway leading into my bedroom from the fire escape about five inches high where a plate had been laid down, leaving an opening under the door so snow came into the room. It didn’t just come into my room, it accumulated. The gap was so big I was always afraid Smokey would crawl out through it.

As I mounted that frozen monstrosity that they were calling a fire escape, I somehow knew in the back of my mind that this wasn’t such a good idea but there was no other way for me to get in. It was snowing lightly, my hands were frozen, and as I forged ahead, I just couldn’t look down. As I got to the top of the ladder, I tried to steady myself and climb onto the landing but it was very slippery. Just as I thought I was on steady footing and stepped towards the door, I slipped on a patch of ice and fell off the back of the fire escape toward the snow-covered ground two stories below. Everything went black.

I have no idea how long I was out for, but there I was in the snow looking up at the fire escape and my first thought was that this was exactly the reason why the slumlord had told me never to go on that fire escape.

My second thought was that my head was pounding and something was wrong with my left shoulder. Every part of my body was fighting to let me know who was in the most pain. I think the back of my head won out, but then came the worst pain of all: I realized that I was still locked out.

Believe it or not, that second climb up the fire escape was a lot easier than the first. In addition to being drunk, now I was dizzy and in horrendous pain, but I made it up there. Slowly, I found my footing on the landing. I held onto the railing very tightly as I opened the door and rushed into the room.

Remember that lip on the door I told you about? Yep, it got me. I tripped on the lip of the door and fell forward with no time to react. I closed my eyes as the desk got closer to my face because I just couldn’t do anything else. The corner of my desk ripped through my forehead like a knife through cheese and I forgot all about the pain in my shoulder or the back of my head. Blood was gushing everywhere and Smokey was going nuts.

I couldn’t get myself off the floor partly because the pain was too intense and partly because of all the blood that was now in my eyes. I tried but I just couldn’t lift myself and Smokey’s barking and jumping around like a lunatic were not helping the situation. It was barely light outside, and I had to squint to see anything at all. I knew I should call my girlfriend because I needed to go to the hospital, but the phone was all the way through the bedroom, through the long hallway past the bathroom and then in the corner of the living room. I dragged myself through the house leaving blood everywhere as I crept to the phone and finally dialed her number.  

“You’re not gonna believe this, I’m bleeding. I fell off the fire escape, and..”

(Cutting me off) “Oh my God Is Smokey OK?”
“I’m fucking bleeding, he’s jumping all over me, HE’S FINE – I’m not OK!”

“Are you drunk?”

“Of course I’m drunk, what would I be doing on that fire escape if I was sober? It’s not even attached to the house! I need help over here. I can’t get off the floor”

“Go to bed and call me tomorrow – you’re so dramatic” and she hung up.

I think that’s the exact moment I knew that I would marry that girl.

I got Weezie’s answering machine next (she told me later that she was in bed hysterical laughing listening to me leave the message because all she could understand was me slurring “Hooka…Hooka…it’s not right…I fell off the fire escape…you have my keys…”

I finally got a friend to come over and take me to the hospital and a few hours later I was back in my bed with torn ligaments and a slight concussion after a good “talking to” from the doctor in the Emergency Room about drinking. I was so out of it that I was agreeing to his points and nodding to everything he said and didn’t realize that he was talking about me. I stupidly thought he was just making small talk about the way people drink when they’re in college.

I had just fallen asleep when I woke up to Weezie hysterical laughing as she stood above me dangling my keys. I tried to explain what happened, but she just kept laughing. She thought it was poetic justice for me leaving her alone at the Formal last night.

When my girlfriend came over, she couldn’t believe how seriously I was hurt. She thought I was just drunk and rambling on when I called her. I immediately forgave her because I was in love with her. I also immediately forgave her because no one else would take care of me and clean up my apartment and I was starving. I was heavily medicated that day but still made it out to the bars two nights later.

I wish I could say that night was a wakeup call for me and that I never got that drunk again, but that would be a lie. I had to leave school early and get an incomplete in all my classes and I looked like Mikhail Gorbachev with that big gash that went from my hairline to the top of my nose. I made scars trendy way before Harry Potter did but it didn’t go away for over two months and I had trouble with my left shoulder for much longer than that. I was in a sling and it was impossible to do anything for myself. I wish I could also say that was the last time that I got hurt while I was drunk (see broken ankle number one, broken ankle number two, St. Patrick’s Day 2009 when I fell face first into a brick wall and looked like Rhianna, etc.) As the saying goes: if you fall off the horse, you get right back on and I‘m pretty sure that applies to fire escapes too.

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