“Happy New Year!”
… I said to my friend Phil as I clinked my water against his beer and looked hopelessly around the desolate T.G.I. Friday’s for someone to kiss.
Nine of us were in the middle of a
ghost town business district in Costa Mesa, having sprinted to the nearest alcohol-equipped establishment in order to have a drink in our hands come midnight. I was barefoot and my feet were dirty. (It had only taken about twenty steps out the door for me to reluctantly accept the fact that my sexy, sassy New Years heels were both too big and too high. I doubt I could have held my own in a race with an infant.)
Resolution: Either learn how to walk in heels, or stop trying to wear them. Not everyone can be a Carrie Bradshaw.
Anyway, with the exception of our drunken party, Friday’s was practically empty, and the apathetic bartender averted his gaze when he caught my absinthe-glazed eyes wandering in his direction. So I drank my water.
Because none of us was stoned or starring in a commercial written for obese, midwestern Americans, T.G.I.Friday’s was decidedly not our final destination. So we left. And, one way or another, I ended up standing on the curb with Phil and Alex, watching two-thirds of our banging New Years party take off in a minivan.
Next thing I know, the three of us (me still barefoot, heels in hand, feet getting dirtier by the minute) have linked arms and are swaying wildly as we meander across a major freeway overpass, twenty minutes into 2013. There’s not a soul around, not even on the 405. And that freeway has like 500 lanes.
Which leads me to believe… we must be the only humans left in Costa Mesa, or in Southern California, or maybe even the only humans left in the New Year!! Someone must have miscalculated the World’s Ending.
However, when we finally turn up at Garf’s (Which-i-have-Yelped), there are plenty of human weirdos, and our friends (“Oh hey! What took you guys so long!”) and even my favorite bartender Eddie. So we’re good. I let out a sigh of relief, which you could take to mean: phew! the burden of single-handedly repopulating the planet hasn’t fallen on me!
I walk to the bar and order another water from Eddie. A 50-year-old black man to my left, who looks like Gus from Breaking Bad (see photo), turns to me suddenly and – instead of offering me a million dollars to cook meth in a state-of-the-art laboratory – tells me I just made his night. By just being there! Wow, I am so flattered I take his sparkly hat, then bail and walk over to the booth where I stashed my heels.
Of course, it’d taken the three of us so long to walk there that, barely ten minutes after we’d arrived, everyone else is ready to move on.
So off we go to Tin Lizzy’s, a bar within reasonable walking distance, leaving Alex behind at Garf’s to hit on some skinny blonde. (I did not actually see this girl, but I’m assuming she fits that description, as Alex has one type and that is it. I hope he’s reading this.)
On the way, we met a hefty lawyer named Doug who apparently moonlights as a bouncer outside Garf’s, and is known for generously giving cigarettes away to young people.
This may not actually be true. It is likely that Doug is just a lawyer who was standing near the street entrance smoking, and who happened to give us a cigarette. …Believe what you want to believe.
As it turns out, (who woulda thunk) the slightly damp tile floor of a dark gay bar past midnight on New Years Eve is kind of a gross thing to be dancing on barefoot. I tried the heels again, took two perilous steps, then almost fell on my ass when the right stiletto heel simply gave up and broke off. I threw the stupid shoes on a bench somewhere and haven’t seen them since.
After ordering drinks, the single, straight men in our group of friends (well I guess there were only two at this point – Dane, a buff rower who looks like a Norwegian king, and Phil, a scrappy rapper who could almost pass as black) promptly dispersed to perv on some women. Rumor has it gay bars are full of vulnerable, half-naked girls who let loose like never before. So they were on their game.
Meanwhile, I danced with Natalie and Alicia until the soles of my feet screamed at me loudly over the music, “MICHELLE! WE ‘RE GETTING SYPHILIS!”
So, defeated yet again, I sat down and told some gay man named Chad that he smelled like Starburst (because he did!). He therefore became my best friend for all of three minutes, until another gay man told me I was adorable, and then he was my best friend, until my gay friend Jerry came up to him and started making moves. I bowed out.
After the bar closed at 2am, we loitered in the parking lot with some other drunk people who weren’t quite ready to go home yet. All the boys were striking out – Alex came wandering over to meet us with his tail between his legs, Phil chased a half-Asian girl around the parking lot, but she kept backing away from him. claiming to be a lesbian, and Dane – well, who knows about Dane. I think I gave some girl with scarlet lipstick his number for him. Apparently she has a boyfriend, but she took the number because doesn’t really like him anyways. A girl’s gotta keep her options open.
Now we were hungry. Of course, during the short walk across the street to Del Taco, the group got split up again – this time for good – and I ended up banging on Del Taco’s red, green and yellow glass doors with Phil and Alex, urging them to open up and sell us fast Mexican food.
Nope – drive-thru only.
So we tried walking through the drive-thru. They weren’t having it. At this point, I think we certifiably qualified as hoodlums. Desperate, we gave a sedan-driving stranger a twenty-dollar bill, wrote down our order, and waited for his car at the end of the line.
This guy was not very nice. He kept the change – tipped himself, if you will – handed over one brown paper bag, and took off. I KNEW I should have lain my body prostrate across the driveway in front of his car. I mean, I was dirty enough already, what’s a little more asphalt? Unsurprisingly, the lone greasy bag held about 1/3 of our order.
So we split the contents, ate them grumpily at a plastic table, and split the total cost of the food. In other words, I paid six dollars for a chicken soft taco that was probably worth forty-five cents.
Alex and Phil tore open tiny hot sauce packets and, in a fit of anger, tried to squirt the Del Scorcho all over the walls of Del Taco, while those in the drive-thru line watched. It was a feeble attempt.
That was when we met Miranda and Jean, who gave us a ride in their car to a 7-11 for some snacks, and argued the whole way. Miranda was really quite nice and smiley, but Jean was quiet and serious. Miranda soon discovered that she had lost her wallet, and – understandably – proceeded to freak out. Which was when Jean said to her, in a threatening voice, “This is when you stop talking.”
The three of us, crammed in the backseat, looked at each other and squirmed a little. That was when we got out. Time: approximately 3:45am.
Over the next 40 minutes, we discovered we had no place to go. And Alex discovered he had left his iPhone in Jean’s car. Luckily, Jean answered when we called it, and an ornery old cab driver took us to his house to pick it up. Then we dropped Alex off to sleep in his car, while Phil and I headed to a Motel 6. It was only $60 for a night! Why the hell not! If Alex had agreed to stay with us, it would have only been $20 each! But he had to wake up two hours later to drive with his family to Mammoth. Whatever.
In the motel parking lot, we watched as some guy crawled out of a trunk. Then he gave us a couple beers. Phil took a $30 shower while I watched Mexican informercials and drank a Mike’s Lite Hard Lemonade that had been left in my trunk since my Grand Canyon Road Trip.
When Phil got out of the shower, I went in and washed my feet. Thirty-dollar foot-bath.
Happy new year!