Eric: “I threw out the turkey because it was getting old.”
Me: “Glad you don’t say that about me.”
(10 second pause)
Eric: “Yeah but I bought you old.”
Eric: “I threw out the turkey because it was getting old.”
Me: “Glad you don’t say that about me.”
(10 second pause)
Eric: “Yeah but I bought you old.”
Andrew, 100% serious: “Guys– is it pronounced ‘meh-meh’ or ‘may-may’?”
Prompted by a storyline on a TV show, my friends and I found ourselves having the following discussion: If, god forbid, something should happen to one of our parents, would we be supportive of the other parent entering the dating world? Pretty much all of my friends agreed that they would be extremely uncomfortable and they were not sure they could be supportive.
But I think that’s pretty naive and close-minded. I’m much more realistic about these things.
In the sense that I don’t have to think about it, because my mom and dad are going to die at the same time. On the same day I do. I’ll be 90 years old and they’ll be 126, and we’ll all go peacefully in our sleep, holding hands.
The events of tomorrow very much necessitate the events of today.
I’m fucking old.
I’m too old and tired for new friends. If I don’t know you, and I have to put even a modicum of effort into hitting it off with you, it’s simply not going to work.
So the new rule is this: if you’re a new person, you have 2 chances with my sense of humor. If you don’t get my sarcasm/I have to explain that I’m kidding more than twice, you’re out. I’m sorry. I’m just too exhausted.
But if I met you at any point before college graduation, you can still be one of those people who never gets it or knows when I’m fucking with you, and I’ll still love you, because, quite simply, you have put in your time. And you’re probably exhausted too.
So we’re good, Mom.
Between the ages of 22 and 26, I used to take Ambien every night before bed. It was prescribed to me for anxiety-induced insomnia, but mostly I took it because I was at that point in my life where I was convinced that completely unnecessary drugs were in fact necessary. This is because I had zero coping skills and a general belief that mental health problems could be solved with short-acting band-aid solutions, an attitude that helped me avoid the hard work of consistent therapy and would eventually lead to a complete nervous breakdown at age 26.
But in those days, I loved my Ambien! I loved that it put me into a deep, uninterrupted sleep. I loved that it made me less anxious. But mostly I loved that for the hour between taking it and falling asleep, it made me feel drunk, loopy, and giddy. It’s like I got to have my own private happy hour every night before bed.
Which, in retrospect, sounds really fucking sad.
But anyway. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the effects of Ambien, which is likely most of you, as you are normal humans who only do unnecessary drugs at parties or times of celebration, like when your kid finally goes to sleep (that’s how parenthood works, no?): if you take Ambien and don’t go RIGHT to bed, you’ll experience this bizarre, hazy period where you feel kind of drunk, kind of stoned, very loopy, and then essentially remember NOTHING of it the next day.
So needless to say, weird things can go down during this stretch of time, as evidenced when my friend Suzie was looking for my tv remote one day and I told her to check my bed, where she proceeded to find a half-eaten grilled cheese between the top sheet and comforter. I had no memory of it, but apparently the night before I had cooked that bad boy on the George Foreman and had myself a nice little snack snuggled beneath the covers, before passing out mid-chew in an Ambiened stupor. The crumbs on my thighs the next morning should have been a hint that something strange had gone down, but I had just shrugged it off and hopped in the shower because whatever– mysterious bed crumbs happen, guys.
Sleep eating isn’t unusual on Ambien. Other Ambien users have been known to sleepwalk, sleep dance, and even sleep DRIVE while under the influence, which needless to say is a terrifying and dangerous prospect. Luckily, the only person I’ve ever hurt during MY escapades is myself.
And that’s the last ounce of credit I’ll award myself, because this story is about to go downhill fast.
So one night, at age 23, I was alone in my apartment and decided to take an Ambien. Standard practice. I was living with my sister at the time, but she was on a trip to South America for the week, so it was just me.
I took the pill and everything was normal. I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and did whatever else I needed to do before bed with zero incident. Then, after about 15 minutes of laying there reading US Weekly and seriously considering my chances of becoming the next contestant on The Bachelor, I decided (like any normal jew) that I must immediately imbibe a frothy glass of milk at 1:00 in the morning.
I don’t drink milk. Ever. I don’t even know why we had milk in the fridge, but we did. So I leaped out of bed with the grace of a 3-legged cat and stumbled over to the kitchen.
Side note, which will become a key factor in this story: I was wearing nothing but a pair of underwear. No shirt, no shorts, no bra– literally just a pair of full coverage cotton underwear, the kind you might find in your grandmother’s drawer at the nursing home. Clearly I had missed laundry day (common practice back then) and it was slim pickins.
But I digress.
So, clothed in essentially nothing, I poured myself a cold, tall glass of 2% milk. But, seeing as though Ambien affects coordination, and seeing as though I have the natural dexterity of a hippopotamus, I managed to drop the glass mid-pour, and watch as it shattered into hundreds of pieces across the kitchen floor.
Well, when something like this happens and you are naked in a drug-induced state, there’s only one responsible choice to make– wipe up the shattered glass with a few flimsy, CVS brand paper towels.
So there I am, on my hands and knees, cleaning up spilled milk in what can only be described as a scene out of the world’s most twisted nursery rhyme. I don’t know, something about Humpty Dumpty shattering, and then not crying over spilled milk? I swear, minus the nudity and drugs, there’s a shade of a children’s tale in here somewhere.
Once all the glass was safely wiped up and placed into a garbage bag, I decided, as I stared at the various bleeding cuts in my shins, knees and fingers, that the safest thing to do would be to get the entire bag of glass out of the apartment and chuck it down the hallway garbage chute, which was conveniently located about three feet outside my apartment door.
I opened the door and then, by the grace of god, suddenly remembered I was naked. So I quickly shut the door, still safely inside my apartment.
Don’t worry– any inkling of wise decision-making ends there.
I was too drugged to be bothered to fully clothe myself, but somewhere in my brain I knew that entering the hallway completely nude from the waist up would be a bad life choice. So what did I do? I grabbed the knit blanket sitting right there on the couch, wrapped myself in it, and re-opened the door.
Something to note: this was no full-coverage blanket. It was a small, crochet throw, the kind that fully has holes and gaps throughout, and is definitely not intended to keep you even remotely warm, much less be used as a nudity shield. Basically, this:
So I’m wrapped in what is essentially a thin layer of gauze, and I open up my apartment door and risk the 3-second sprint into the hallway and back. After all, at this point, it’s about 2am on a week day– what are the odds that someone will be out there?
And I was right. The hallway was empty. I was able to dart to the chute, toss the bag, and make it back to my apartment door without a single person spotting me. Which would have been AWESOME, and would have been where this story ends…
…had the door not slammed behind me and auto-locked me out of my apartment.
Without keys. Drugged. Naked. Bleeding. Wrapped in a doily.
I panicked for a good 2 minutes and then sat down in the hallway to consider my options. Then I remembered that our next door neighbor, a dear friend of my sister’s, had our spare key!
Then I ALSO remembered that that neighbor was in South America. With my sister.
The only two people in the world who had a key to my apartment were away, together, on an entirely different continent.
I was left with no choice. That door wasn’t going to open itself, and sitting in the hallway naked until sunrise seemed like a bad idea. I picked myself up, got in the elevator, and went to the lobby, where I subtly (as subtle as one can be when naked in public) approached Steve, the young doorman. Since I was naked, bleeding, and slurring my speech, I didn’t see the point in even trying to make up a story. At this juncture, the situation was what it was (re: ABSURD). So I looked him straight in the eye and said, “So…I took Ambien. It’s a sleep drug. I’m really out of it. I broke some glass. I went to throw it out and then I locked myself out of my apartment. Without my key. I am naked under this blanket. Those are the facts. Can you please help me?”
He stared at me wide-eyed for a solid 30 seconds and then, like music to my glass-punctured, milk-stained ears, said “Yeah. I can, actually.”
He disappeared into a back room and returned with a huge sheet of hard plastic. “Lucky for you,” he announced triumphantly, “I know how to jimmy open any apartment door with this thing.” In hindsight, I should have been very concerned about the door-jimmying hobby of this man who had full access to my building 24 hours a day. But in that moment, I felt nothing but sheer relief that this guy had the skills of a rapist and may or may not be stealing from me when I’m out of town.
We got in the elevator together. And let me tell you something right now– don’t you EVER complain about awkwardness in elevators until you’ve taken a naked 3-flights-up trip with your doorman, clutching your crab-net blanket in all the important places as he wields a huge plastic sheet and chuckles “This is certainly a first” the entire way. I’m not sure how it’s even possible that I am able to ride in elevators to this day.
So we got to my apartment door without encountering any other tenants, which is a shame because what this story really needs is a second witness.
“Give me two minutes,” he said, and then he used the sheet of plastic like a saw, slamming it into the side of the door, pulling it in and out aggressively. I then sat down in the hallway, where I proceeded to watch the progress of my knight in shining doorman attire, pray for god’s forgiveness, and then promptly pass the fuck out.
I was on Ambien, guys. It had been a long night.
Steve woke me from my hallway nap about 15 minutes later (I think– for all I knew, it could have been a week later) to tell me the job was complete. My lock was broken and I’d have to fix it in the morning. But for now, he advised, “Go to bed. Do not leave your room again tonight. Put your clothes on.”
Things you might say to a toddler.
I woke up the next morning, at first with a vague sense that something bizarre had happened, and then, slowly, the full blown realization that yes, I had locked myself out naked, and yes, despite straight A’s throughout my entire educational career and the possession of an Ivy League degree, this was really my life.
I slipped Steve an envelope of cash with a note stating: “Thank you, and let us never speak of this again.”
I was his favorite tenant after that.
So tip your doorman, guys.
I’ve searched high and low, and that’s definitely the lesson here.
There is a staff photo wall in our school, with pictures of staff members partaking in activities they enjoy. My photo is an action shot from the NYC half marathon I ran.
Kid: “Ms. Emily, you look different in that picture on the wall downstairs.”
Me: “I know, I look super tough and athletic right?”
Kid: “No. Just younger.”
Then I ripped up the paper he was working on and flunked him.
I initially resisted posting this story because I am legitimately afraid my parents will read it and immediately send someone to come to NYC, pack me up with all my belongings, and bring me home to live in their basement because clearly I have not earned the right to be an adult citizen living on my own in society.
Regardless, here we go. (Mostly because I know they already have a kid in the basement).
On Saturday, I decided I needed a new cocktail dress. I have a couple weddings coming up this summer, and I’m tired of all my clothes and need something new (in this case, “tired of all my clothes” = “I got fatter. Nothing fits.”) I decided this would be a good opportunity to use the $600 in tutoring cash I had stored up in my nightstand (nope, this isn’t even the irresponsible part) and go pay for a new dress in cash.
Like a hooker.
I grabbed the wad of cash, stuffed it in a jewelry bag labeled “Charm and Chain” that had once held a pair of costume earrings, shoved it in my purse, and headed out on the town (again. Like a hooker).
I ended up finding the perfect dress for $150, because it turns out I’m not quite as classy as I thought.
So I had $450 left when I headed back home with my new purchase. On the way, I passed Wankel’s Hardware store and realized I needed a dust buster because yes, sometimes I clean. (Full disclosure: I recently moved my couch off the wall to try to locate a lost earring, and discovered a mountain of sesame seeds behind it. What can I say, I love a good flatbread. Not exactly sure why I can’t seem to land them in my mouth, though. Eating is hard, guys!)
Anyway, I went into Wankels, purchased a $30 dust buster with the cash, and left.
Fast forward two days later. Yes, TWO days later. It suddenly dawns on me that I never put the bag of cash back in the nightstand. So I go into my purse, where, lo and behold, underneath the Advil, Prozac, chewed gum balled up in wrappers, two sets of headphones (why? I don’t know), 4 tampons, several stray Junior Mints and at least 3 Chipotle receipts there is….nothing.
The bag of money is gone.
$420. In cash. I lost A BAG OF CASH.
That’s not something real humans do in real life. That’s something Phoebe Buffet does on an episode of “Friends,” as the canned laugh track plays because the live audience refuses to chuckle at something that is THAT FUCKING STUPID.
So after breathing into a paper bag for 5 minutes (except I didn’t have a paper bag, so I used an empty wine bottle, and let me assure you that does not have the same effect), I decided to retrace my steps.
I went back to BCBG, where I had to sheepishly say to the cashier, “So this might seem like a crazy question but….did you guys happen to find a wad of cash in a black jewelry bag?” Needless to say, the impossibly skinny bitch behind the counter was NOT friendly in her response. “Ummmm….NO….”
Alright. Fuck you.
I walked out, head in hands, sweating, and broken out head to toe in hives.
Then to Wankels, where I almost didn’t even go because I was so mortified by the BCBG exchange. But you know what they say– “When a fucking idiot in Rome….keep being a fucking idiot in Rome.” Or something.
So I went into the hardware store, swallowed every ounce of pride I could muster (which was a challenge, as I had zero left), and asked the same humiliating question– “Um, this might seem crazy but I came in here the other day, paid for something with cash, and I think maybe I left a bag of cash on your counter. It was in a black jewelry bag. Have you seen it?”
The cashier stared at me wide-eyed. “That was YOU?!”
I could barely respond. “Oh my god, you know what I’m talking about?”
Her: “Yeah, we have the bag in the back.” (then, screaming over her shoulder): “Mike! Jason! Sandra! James! You won’t believe this! The girl who left the cash! She’s HERE!”
Then, faster than my whole family assembles when Dad offers to buy us dinner, the entire staff of Wankles Hardware congregated by the cash register. They stared at me, kind but smirking.
Me: “Hi! Hi yes that’s me. I wish I could say this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life…but that wouldn’t even be true.”
They all laughed. And then told me how lucky I am. And then, I’m pretty sure, snuck a photo of me that they later posted on Instagram with the caption “Village Idiot.”
After some friendly-but-mortified banter, a burly bearded man escorted me to a shady back room area (where I gleefully followed him, as the tone of bad decision making had already been set) and handed me the bag of cash.
Every single dollar was there.
So there are two lessons here, guys.
1) Be as dumb as you want. Everything will turn out fine.
2) Shop at Wankels.
That’s it. There are no more lessons.
“Because she was standing there, inches away from me in the greeting card isle at CVS, looking at birthday cards and whining about how old she feels now that she and all her friends are turning 23.”
— me, in my statement to the police, when they asked why I decided to punch this random stranger in the face.
Kid: “How old are you? You look late 20s.”
Me: “You’re my new favorite person!”
Kid: “How bout Miss [coteacher]? She looks younger than you.”
I hate you.