It is by no small miracle that I am at the bottom of my stairs with zero broken bones, two matching shoes, a clothed body and a wallet. It’s also a wonder I haven’t fainted or died; no apartment has ever been as hot as the one I just left, because fact: no apartment is ever as hot as the one in which you’re rushing to leave.
I’m trying to explain this with my thumbs to a collection of 5 other women when my phone lights up. Across my screen, three angry words flash, “Where are you?”
Their tone is accusatory, as though they just “know” I haven’t left my building yet, even though I said I was in a cab.
I am in my lobby, so I am almost in a cab. Guys.
Update: “En route!” But for real this time.
I do my best lying in cabs, actually. It’s a fun opportunity to practice any creative stories I may recite throughout the night, like where I’m from (hell yes, that’s a Southern accent you hear!), what I “do” (bingo, mostly) and my pseudonym. Carol.
The cab driver has pulled up right next to the bar. Getting to the actual bar, however — the weary strip of wood covered in beer and cinnamon-scented whisky — proves itself near impossible. There are like, 800 people in here.
We’ve made it. The bartender sees me. The bartender ignores me. There is someone behind me who finds standing up to be the absolute hardest thing he has ever encountered and so, while I attempt to charm she who controls the libations, I work on my new craft as human leaning-wall. This is nice. This is so nice. I love supporting your weight with my back, total stranger.
Ah! The bartender has signaled that I may speak.
My order rolls off the tongue with alarming ease — my friends and I have done this dance before. The bartender, elegant and swift in her own choreography, is balletic in comparison to the swaying crowd. She pours our shots and accessorized vodkas, then hands over 3 beers in tandem with collecting my card.
“Keep it open,” she states. It’s not really a question.
“Sure,” I reply, then relinquish my spot at the bar.
My friends and I find the only other area of space left and huddle like campers around a fire.
“Anyone cute here?”
“Spot anyone we know?”
(Bars, like cable television, showcase the same phenomenon: 500 channels and nothing to watch. 800 people and no one to see.)
So I brace myself for the inevitable — either we leave, or we lap. I hate both because I hate moving. I’m fine standing right here, in this circle, so long as the speakers are playing my song.
“Let’s go somewhere else, guys.”
Outnumbered, I follow…but here’s a thing I also do: ditch.
(Bad habit, I know.)
I check my phone in the cab — one text, no emoji: “Did u just”
(The ellipsis thing is blinking)
“Leave? Wtf? Where’d you go?”
“I left my card at the bar, had to go back and get it,” I write. But that’s a lie, because I’m in a cab on my way home. And the name’s Carol.