I’ve always pictured my life as a film or television show, dramatizing certain events and adding a cinematic layer to each moment. I imagine everything as a scene complete with poignant background music, a Martin Scorsese-esque camera moving non-stop and dialogue sharper than anything penned by Quentin Tarantino. But not even at my creative peak could I have written a fictional account of this night or the morning that followed.
The day began as most mornings would: Me being woken up by the irritating ring of my phone’s alarm. I wanted to silence it, but couldn’t because my arms were strapped to the bed—a bed which was not my own. "Not the Resident Evil dream again," I thought. However, I quickly realized that I was experiencing a nightmare in real-time when the trio in white coats hovering over me did not fade away as ugly dreams tend to fade away when you need them to. They let me know that I was at a hospital and that I was fine before an untimely joke about a wild night. Apparently, it was so wild that I needed to be restrained. How often is a man strapped to a bed in the mood for humor?
"It looks like you had a bad experience with some alcohol. You know...we don’t disclose any of this information to police—did you take anything like PCP?" one of the white coats asked me. Had I just endured a tweak of epic proportions, thus landing myself in the ER? Was I drugged? The doctors freed me and exited the room.
Here I was, alone in the emergency room with no recollection of how I got there. My mind began to drift and the fear began to sink in. I panicked. "How the fuck did I end up in this situation?"
My friend had scored an awesome new job that required her to relocate that weekend. However, a pre-move turn-up was in order to celebrate the next step in her career, so a few friends gathered for a responsible send-off. Or so I thought. Things remained civil at the first bar, with conversations ranging from renting apartments, the worst first dates imaginable, and Naya Rivera. There’s always that one person who doesn’t want the night to end, and said person suggested we trek to another bar. Might as well go with the flow, I figured. What’s the worst that could happen?
After a brief walk, we reached our next destination with everyone rushing to the bar as if our reputations as drinkers depended on who consumed the most drinks in the next 15 minutes. Two drinks later, we all found ourselves watching a heated game of Jenga like it was an MMA match. Strategy games are the new bloodsport, you know. Bar conversations are always a source of inappropriate gems, and several ridiculous comments were overheard at this time, many of which had nothing to do with Jenga. Two particularly brazen questions stood out, mostly because they were shouted:
"Girls still don’t swallow these days? Who’s raising these bitches?"
...and that came from a woman.
"You want another drink?" my friend asked, interrupting the inappropriate talk. "Sure," I answered. I had paced myself, consumed water and walked those earlier drinks off. How much damage could another one do? A few minutes after downing what I figured would be my last drink, we all left. I bid farewell to my friend, wishing her luck on her new endeavor before debating whether or not I should head home. It wasn’t midnight and I didn’t have to work the next day (strategic thinking on my part that proved to be a blessing in the long run), so I decided to keep the party going and face the night alone. It was the worst decision ever.
Next stop: Bar No. 3, where I ordered another drink with the quickness. After speaking to a few acquaintances, I had another. Around the time the DJ played Diddy and Mase’s "Been Around the World" remix, things started to slow down. I don’t mean the party began to slow down, I mean my internal motor began to slow down. And then everything went black.
After the doctors left my room, I stared at my phone and noticed several missed calls from my ex-girlfriend, so I sent her a text explaining my current state. "I knew it," she responded. She had been calling me all night, trying to figure out where the hell I was. After going through a list of possible locations, she decided on the hospital. She called me about 30 seconds after responding to my text, and I explained that I was at a hospital in Las Vegas.
"You’re not in Las Vegas," she said. "Look around your room; something will tell you which hospital you’re at." I’m supposed to be the smart one; what a damn shame. She was right, though. I definitely was not in Vegas—I was at the hospital she worked at. "I figured that’s where you were. I’ll be there soon," she promised.
A doctor told me I was free to go and, as I was getting dressed, I realized both of my shirts were missing along with the keys to my car and my credit card, which I prayed was at the final bar. Leaving the hospital sans your shirt just screams "I had the worst night ever," so I did what any half-intoxicated person would do the morning after a blackout: I exited the hospital still wearing my hospital gown, paperwork in hand. I did it with confidence, too. I really tried to stunt in a hospital gown. A security guard, who said he knew I wasn’t trying to make some grand escape because of the paperwork I was holding, stopped me and gave me a shirt my grandfather would’ve worn before sending me on my way.
The hangover began to sink in as I sat in the hospital courtyard. After what seemed like an eternity, my ex finally arrived, speed-walking over to me with the sass of a supermodel and the anger of an enraged mother who had to leave work early to pick her delinquent child up from school. "What the fuck?!" she asked, eviscerating me with her eyes. Shit, I wish I knew. Her anger quickly turned to concern as she pestered me about my well-being and the whereabouts of my car. I had a vague idea, so she let me borrow hers to locate mine. After I found it (right where I left it), I got a text from my friend letting me know that he was outside of my apartment.
"I have Gatorade," he said.
"Who told you?" I asked, still curious as to how things ended so horribly for me the night before.
"Told me what?"
"I woke up in the ER today."
"I’m on my way home now, I’ll tell you the whole story."
A mildly-intoxicated person alone with their thoughts after a night of "what the fuck?" is an emotional disaster waiting to happen. As I drove home to get my spare car key and meet my friend, I couldn’t help but think about how kind this girl was to lend me her car and how lucky I was to have survived a night I still struggle to explain. That’s when I began to hear the opening piano keys of Drake’s "Look What You’ve Done" in my mind. I nearly shed a thug tear at a red light until I noticed the person in the car next to me burning a hole in my skull with their eyes. I never needed to get home more in my life than I did at that moment.
When I finally got to my apartment, my friend was waiting outside with a Gatorade that I desperately needed. "Where’s your car?" he asked. Like the rest of my night, it was a long story, one that I would relay as we drove back to return my ex’s car and MacGyver our way into mine.
Later that day, I found myself fighting the inevitable hangover and getting my ass kicked. As I was crushing another bottle of Gatorade, my ex—who I will now refer to as my friend—checked on me. "Are you OK?" she asked. "Yeah. How am I alive?" I responded, forever answering a question with a question. "I don’t know," she said, just as lost as I was.
"Your life is like a movie," she said. She still cared. She would later inform me that I was discovered slumped in the grass in front of someone's house, completely disoriented and with a weak pulse. Considering where I was found and where the last bar is located, I can only assume I tried to walk the intoxication off. That walk turned into crawling, which turned into me expiring in a stranger's front yard. I'm lucky nobody called the cops.
At that moment, I wished my life didn’t mimic the ridiculous exploits of some fictional antihero. I’m no Hank Moody, no Jimmy McNulty, and certainly no Don Draper. Although I felt like shit, I had emerged from judgment night unscathed. Though waking up in a hospital with no recollection of how you got there is scary, things could’ve been much worse. I could’ve woken up like Mia Wallace did in Pulp Fiction.