Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Romper Stompee

The worst physical damage that's happened to me in a single night of drinking occurred the Saturday before Easter, 2005. I had consumed 2 whole sips of a cup of keg beer.

I worked that day, and I ran some errands as the sun set. I decided not to go downtown for my typical Jackalope/Cucaracha ritual, as I wasn't in the mood to deal with the weekenders and frat people. I think I wanted to take a break as well. I had been out for a few nights in a row.

I stopped at the 7 Eleven on North Lamar for smokes, and I ran into a couple of my bar friends. Punk rockers, of course. They told me there was a big party going on down the street just two blocks away and that "everybody will be there." I said, "Nah, that's okay. I still have that breathalizer on my truck." (I was finishing up two years probation for DWI #'s 1 and 2.)

Them: "Dude, you can crash at the house. Most of us are. Also, they have a keg of Lone Star and tons in cans."

Free beer. Place to crash. My gut told me to go home. But free beer told my gut to suck it. I went.

They were right. It was like a packed night at Cucaracha but in somebody's house. Every person with multiple tattoos, piercings, leather and attitude that I knew was there. They had obviously been going at it a while, so I told myself I needed to catch up. I made my rounds saying hi as I worked my way to the backyard to locate the keg. My friend Sarah was headed to the bathroom and asked me to get her a cup as well. Sure, no problem.

The next thing I remembered, there were blurry people in white with surgical masks hovering over me. The main blur said to me sternly, "Sir! You need to quit trying to talk! I'm trying to sew your lip back on."

Well, that's unsettling.

I attempted the best "what happened" without an intact bottom lip I could. The blur assisting the main blur said, "Someone beat you up. You have a concussion. Please relax." They had no further information for me.

Turns out that main blur was a plastic surgeon...and kind of a cocky asshole. I was lucky because he was available for surgery that evening, and he was a cocky asshole because he was really good. Despite being condescending, he successfully lined everything up and made sure I didn't end up a deformed jackass. I then spent several hours recovering in a hospital bed with staff keeping me awake and under observation.

They released me around noon Easter Sunday. The doctor had said, "We'll check your stitches in a couple of weeks. You'll be lucky if you can afford my bill." I replied, "You'll be lucky if I pay you at all. Cheers."

I walked out of the hospital into the brightest sun that I can remember. My head was killing me. I put on my sunglasses, and I slipped a cigarette into the side of my mouth as far away from my stitched up wound as I could. I looked up to see some families arriving at the hospital with "Get Well Soon" balloons and flowers only to reel in horror at the sight of me as they hurried past. I was wearing my black spray-painted cowboy hat, black pearl-snap western shirt, black jeans, black leather jacket and my lizard skin boots with black duct tape on them (because it was cheaper to buy new ones than get the holes in the them repaired). Also, I was covered from head to toe in dried mud and blood. I looked like death as I exhaled smoke out of my mangled face. Happy Easter, kids. Boo.

photo by SLS Photo (Steph Swope!)

I walked into the parking lot and it hit me that I didn't fucking drive here. I also didn't know where "here" was. I realized later I could have just walked back into the hospital and asked where I was, but I exited with such a good comeback that it would be awkward to go back in there. Also, it's 2005, so no GPS or Google Maps.So I called my housemate Shane.

Shane: "Hello?"
John: "Hey. I just got out of the hospital...but I have no idea where I am, and I don't have my truck here."
Shane: "What do you see near the hospital?"
John: "Shit man, I dunno...there's a highway I think...oh, across it I see 'Corvette Country'."
Shane: "I know where that is. Be there shortly." (click)

About 15 minutes later, he pulled up and I got into his car. He glanced at me, expressionless, and said, "Hey." He began driving back to the house. I stared at him. He said nothing. Shane was a quiet roommate and all around chill guy, but this was ridiculous. After a long silence, I spoke. "Aren't you going to ask me what happened or why I look like hell?"

"Well, I figured you'd tell me at some point." That's Shane at his most Shane-ness.

I spent the rest of the day sleeping on the couch. My head had cleared a bit, and I just couldn't figure out why anyone would attack me. I didn't remember drinking anything, so I didn't think I had become mouthy...or mouthier than normal, at least. And while there were emotionally unstable drunk punks, they (we) typically only get into it with fratty douchebags, not each other. I texted and called some friends to see if they had heard anything. The problem was they and I did not really have the numbers of bar friends/acquaintances...we just see them at the bar.

One call I remember was with Jen T, who said that she thought it was strange that somebody would actually kick my ass. "I'm sure people want to, but nobody ever does because, I'm sorry, but you're not very threatening."

Me: "I...talk a big game though."
Jen T: "Yes, unfortunately, you do."

She was right. Nobody at that party would literally split my lip based on me being drunk and mouthy. And definitely not if I was sober, which I was becoming sure I was. I was going to have to wait until I went to Jackalope/Cucaracha the next day.

After sleeping a ridiculously long time then retrieving my truck, I went to 6th Street. The very first person I saw was Brad working the door. He was at the party. He, incidentally, also saw the whole thing...and he filled me in all right.

It rained buckets and buckets on Good Friday. Half of the backyard at that party was a big messy mud pit. Some brain trust decided to set the keg up right in the middle of the mud puddle. Imagine walking through wet grass and mud in boots that are covered in duct tape. Brad told me I filled up two cups of beer, took a couple of drinks from one, refilled it, and then made my way back to the back porch and concrete slab. "Careful..." he said, and immediately afterward I slipped and landed face first on the corner of the concrete slab. He told me it was impressive because I held up both cups of beer as I fell as to not spill them, which is why my face broke my fall. He busted out laughing when he saw me fall, but then he stopped when I attempted to get up and blood gushed everywhere. He said his reaction was: "Haha--oh SHIT!"

Anybody remember the bad guy from "Blade 2"? How his mouth kind of opened up on the bottom? Yeah, that's what happened. My lip had split and was hanging. Ugh, creeps me out even now.

The problem was, everybody was drunk. So people had to decide either who was the least drunk or cared the least that they were drunk. A guy named James drove me to the hospital.

Me: "The doctor told me I got jumped."
Brad: "Oh yeah. James came back and said that he didn't know if you had health insurance or not, so he was under the impression that if you were attacked they would treat you as opposed to falling on your own. So he said that then split, fast."
Me: "That's doesn't make any sense."
Brad: "Well, James is a fucking idiot, man...what can you do?"

I stood there for a minute and said nothing.

Me: "So...I curb checked myself."
Brad: "Haha, yeah, you did."

All I'm saying is that one reason for universal health care in this country is that some of us do really dumb shit and/or have really dumb shit happen to them...and we could use legit coverage and not a "somebody beat his ass" policy.