Right now I'm going to explain to you all of the things that I did wrong so that you won't make the same mistakes. And it's embarrassing shit, because I have to admit: if someone in the band was going to screw up a gig the way I did, I figured it would be Ryan.
But let me tell you what happened. As I said earlier, my first exam was at nine o'clock Tuesday morning. It was for my Introductory German class, which I had been half-assed about all semester. I knew I had to go hardcore on the final or I would end up failing, so I didn't go to bed when I got home from practice at Nick's place on Monday night. Instead I brewed a pot of coffee and set up a study space at the kitchen table with my notes, text book, paper and pens.
What time did I get to bed? Maybe four? I'm not sure, but I remember feeling my way along the hallway to get to my closet. I was so brain-tired that I felt stoned or drunk, and I crumpled onto my floor-bed and was asleep in seconds. Sounds good, right? Beauty sleep, right? Sure, except I fell asleep without setting my alarm.
I woke up in the morning with one of those heart-pounding, oh-my-god-I-overslept adrenaline freakouts, where you dream that everyone is screaming at you that you're going to be late and you sit up, still half asleep, and grasp around in the dark to find the clock next to your bed only to realize that you actually are late--really, really late. Then you realize that halfway across town, sixty other people have just started writing an exam that you should be writing as well, but instead you're still in your underwear in the goddamn walk-in closet that serves as your bedroom.
We've all been there.
I showered and dressed in about two minutes flat, crammed two slices of bread in my mouth and ran out the door looking like a wild-eyed sack of crazy. Luckily I had a twenty minute bus ride to the university to get calmed down, and by the time I got to campus I think I had my heart-rate back under a hundred beats per minute. I walked to the classroom where the exam was being administered, took a paper from the amused-looking professor, sat down and began to write.
The exam was timed for three hours, but I would say that if you knew what you were doing it would take an hour, maximum. I was an hour late arriving, which would have given me plenty of time to fill in every blank IF I KNEW WHAT I WAS DOING. But I didn't have a freaking clue. The late night cram session followed by not enough sleep followed by a screaming dash across town had scrambled my frontal lobe so badly I didn't even know what Deutch meant. I could come up with Ich bin/Du bist, and Ich habe/Du hast, but beyond that everything might as well have been Klingon. Total brainf--k.
When noon rolled around the professor collected the exams from the remaining know-nothings and sympathetically kicked us out. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die, but I was too hungry to even look for a hole. One of the other last-to-leaves suggested nachos at The Market, and so I went along with them to drown my sorrows in melted cheese and cheap draft beer.
It was only noon. No problem, right? Because our gig wasn't until nine o'clock. So I had all the time in the world to eat lunch, head home, relax, maybe take a nap, and be ready early to go to Nick's place. The plan was for the band to gather at Nick's to hustle the gear to the bar together. If time allowed, we might even squeeze in a warm-up jam before going downtown. We would wait and see. But anyway, I clearly had plenty of time, so I went into The Market with the other Introductory German failures, and we ordered some nacho platters and a few pitchers of beer to help us unwind from the exam.
Not long after the nachos arrived at our table I saw Cara coming into the student lounge with her school bag and a cup of takeout coffee. This of course was Cara with a C, Jasmine's friend, not Kara with a K, one of my shitty roommates. I was having a bad semester for duplicate-name acquaintances.
I waved to Cara and she came over. She had the look of someone who had been up all night, except that she had remembered to set her alarm so she could get up on time.
Hey, I said when she arrived at the table. Exam this afternoon?
Yeah, two o'clock, she said. Jasmine has one too.
Are you meeting her?
We didn't make plans, I said. We don't talk every single day.
Right, Cara said, nodding. She keeps complaining about how you don't have a cell phone.
I shrugged. Time for that later, I guess. Maybe in the fall.
I'll text her and let her know you're here, she said. I'm going to grab a seat and study. She pulled out her cell and started thumbing away while she sat down at a nearby table. I carried on with the nachos and beer for a few minutes until Cara called over, She'll be here before her exam.
Thanks, I said. I hadn't planned on sticking around at the bar until two, but since Jasmine was already on the way, I figured I might as well. I mean, yes, I had sleep to catch up on, four more exams in the next eight days and a gig that night, but what was the harm of a few hours in a bar?
At a quarter to two I figured that my four classmates and I had consumed seven pitchers of beer. Since I hadn't had any much sleep or much to eat except the nachos, I had a pretty strong head-buzz, and there was still no sign of Jasmine.
I looked over my shoulder to Cara, who was packing up her books and getting ready to go to her own exam. Any word from Jasmine? I asked, hoping that I didn't sound too loaded.
She just texted, Cara said. She's running late and she's going straight to her exam. She says she'll stop by after her exam if you're sticking around.
Goddamn, I thought. That could mean three o'clock if the test is easy, but it could mean five o'clock if it's long. Could I afford to wait that long?
Probably not, my logical brain said: you really ought to go home, clean yourself up, get a rest and sober up in time to go meet the rest of the band at Nick's place.
Unfortunately, that logical brain was submerged in beer, and what it sounded like to me was: there's a full jug of beer on the table and another on the way, and your sexy, sex-crazy girlfriend will be here in a while. Sit your drunk ass down and have another beer.
And so? Decision made.
If you want to text her back, I said to Cara, let her know I'll wait for her.
Sure. She collected her bags and left. I turned back to the guys at the table and realized I barely knew any of them. That was okay though. They seemed like good guys, and I was having fun.
* * * *
I borrowed someone's cell phone and called Ryan around four o'clock.
Hey man, he said. We've being trying to find you. Where the hell are you?
The bar, man, I said. The Market. I'm waiting for Jasmine. She's writing an exam.
Dude, you sound pissed, he said. How long have you been there?
Since noon. I'm good. I'm pumped. We're going to kick such major muthaf--kin' ass tonight, man. I'm telling people about the show, too. It's good. There's a lot of cool people here, man. You should come down.
Nah, he said. I'm going over to Nick's. You should go too. We could jam. Warm up.
Later, man. Like I said, I'm waiting for Jasmine. I'll be there later. Sevenish.
Okay. Don't be late, all right?
No worries. Later. I snapped the phone shut and looked up, just in time to see Jasmine coming into the bar. She looked tired and bitter, but her face brightened when she saw me. I got up and spread my arms for a big hug, practically swallowing her up in a clumsy embrace.
Whoa, holy shit, she said, catching herself before I knocked her right over. Hey, how's it going? Are you okay?
Yeah, yeah, I'm great, I said. I didn't get any sleep, bombed out on an exam, and then sat here drinking for four hours. I'm great.
She put her hand to my cheek. You look wasted, she said, smiling sympathetically. Don't you have a gig tonight?
Yeah, yeah, don't worry. It's going to be awesome. I just need to eat and I'll be fine. Hey, do you want a beer?
Actually, I'd love one, she said.
We sat back down at the table and I introduced her around to a few of the people I'd been drinking with. The people at the table had been changing as people came and went, but I introduced her to the ones I knew. I poured her and myself beers from the current pitcher and listened as she told me about her late night study session and her Canadian History exam (lots of long answer essay questions, she said).
We had a few beers, and then she waited while I made a wobbling trip out to the automated teller in the hallway to take out cash to pay my hefty portion of the tab from the beers. It seemed like a lot of money, but I hadn't minded when I was drinking them, so what the hell, right?
Jasmine and I went out to catch a bus up to my place. She looked so good! She was wearing these black jeans that really hugged her ass, and I just wanted to grab her. I put my arm around her waist and kept pulling her toward me, which made walking awkward because I'm so much bigger than her and also because I kept stumbling. It was hard for me to keep a good rhythm walking, and I realized that was because my legs were all loose from beer. I kept trying to kiss her when we were sitting on the bus, but she kept pushing me back and telling me I was a bit too drunk and the bus isn't a good place to make out anyway.
It was five o'clock when we got back to my apartment, and I was happy to see that none of my douche-bag roommates were home. I figured Jasmine would want to have sex right away, but she didn't. She kept saying how I really needed to have something to eat, and maybe have a shower to try and sober up for the show. That sounded fine to me, as long as she would agree to join me in the shower. She said we should eat first and talk about it later.
I admit, this must all sound completely ridiculous, but I've been known to act like a fool when I'm drunk. Anyway, we fooled around in the kitchen and made a bunch of macaroni, then ate a huge amount of carbs and sat down on the couch to relax.
This show is going to kick ass, I thought to myself as I put my feet up on the coffee table. Jasmine snuggled in next to me and put her head against my chest and her arm around me. I looked up at the ceiling. The room was spinning, in a faint, not completely unpleasant way.
With some effort I made my eyes focus on the digital clock in Dustin's DVD player. It said ten after six. It would be close, but I somehow felt very confident that I would have no trouble making it to Nick's place by seven o'clock, even if I took a moment to rest my eyes. So I looked back up at the ceiling. It was still spinning in a gentle, almost soothing way. I closed my eyes and let the spinning carry me away to sleep.
2009 Nolan Whyte