I should confess that I was not always the greatest roommate. My rent was on time and I did the majority of cleaning in the house, but I occasionally stole Bianca’s tampons and allowed people to have sex in her bed while she was gone. When I was really mad at her, I drank her vodka.
Once Janet and Tony disappeared, the friend and I were alone. We had yet to exchange a word. As he fumbled through his cell phone for cab numbers, I took a good look at him for the first time. Hot damn. He was attractive. Very attractive.
He had brown hair that wasn’t sticky with gel, but I could tell he had styled it by the way it swished to the front and flipped into a little wave. His face was long and rectangular, with a strong, masculine jawline. He had olive-tan skin — the shade of a white boy who spends his days lounging on the beach — and chocolate-brown eyes below neatly groomed brows. His long legs hung off the side of my round little futon, and I remembered how tall he had seemed (at least 6´2˝, I thought), and he had a lean, lanky build. He wore a white button-down shirt that hung over a pair of blue jeans. This guy looked clean and well kempt, unlike the scraggly surfers that usually hung around P.B.
I have a theory about men. When I was at the height of my promiscuity, it seemed as if they could smell my availability, as if it were part of the evolutionary process of the male knowing which females are ready to mate. If that was the case, Tall Guy’s reproductive instincts must have been in full swing. If words were exchanged between us, they were few. He put his phone in his pocket and followed me into my bedroom.
The next morning, I woke up to the sunlight shining through the window.
“Dammit!” I gasped. I jerked upright in my bed, knocking Tall Guy’s arm off my waist.
“What time is it?” I asked, but I didn’t really expect to get an answer from the unconscious man beside me.
I jumped up and ran into the living room in search of a clock. It was 9:00 a.m., and Bianca would be home any minute.
“Janet, you guys have to get the hell up!” I said. I slapped open Bianca’s door to find Janet and Tony naked.
“Get up! Get up! Get up!” I ordered like a boot-camp drill instructor.
We shoved the guys out the door mere minutes before Bianca arrived. I hardly looked at my birthday boyfriend as I sent him out into the morning without a goodbye.
As James would have put it, I “raged” into 21-dom with full force.
Despite the friends who had disappeared, my birthday weekend was everything I dreamed it would be. Instead of embracing our hangovers, Janet and I treated our aching, dehydrated bodies with more booze.
Why the hell shouldn’t I be drunk by noon today? I thought. It’s my birthday.
When I opened my door, I realized that the rest of P.B. agreed.
P.B. was always a bit hectic, but on holiday weekends, it transformed into what looked like MTV Spring Break. It was a shocking sight the first time. What was once sand had been replaced by a mass of flesh. The aroma of sea salt was overpowered by the stench of stale beer baking in the sunshine. Early birds arriving before sunrise had already set up tents and coolers packed with alcohol. Some were equipped with food and beer funnels, which would later be shoved down the throats of young ladies in bikinis. Every guy wore his own unique pair of board shorts patterned with Hawaiian flowers or Rip Curl lettering, while every girl wore a bikini, sometimes topped with a short, denim cutoff skirt or a little tube dress.
That night Grizzly (not his real name) escorted Janet and I to the bars on the Garnet strip. Grizzly was my age but looked much older because of his fuzzy, reddish-blond beard and husky, six-foot-five build. He treated his female friends like cubs, protecting us from aggressive assholes and never making a move on us, even when we were half conscious. A native of upstate New York, he was a small-town guy with a big-brotherly attitude.
“Screw all those bitches that didn’t want to come out tonight,” he said to me. “It’s your 21st birthday. I’ve got your back, girl. Let’s get you a redheaded slut” (a shot made with Jägermeister and peach-flavored schnapps).
Grizzly bought me one redheaded slut after the other.
“Have you ever had an ‘adios’?” Grizzly asked. We stood at the edge of a musty, dark bar packed with drunk guys in baggy T-shirts and backward caps.
“Nope,” I said. “What’s in it?”
Grizzly laughed. “A lot of stuff, darlin’. But once you drink it, it’s adios!”
After a long day of alcohol consumption, I was pretty far gone by the time I got the adios in my hands. A tall glass was filled with what looked like Windex with a cherry on top, but it tasted sweet, and I slurped it down. Two cocktails later, I understood the name. I remember nothing after that. Apparently, I lost my ability to walk. Thank God for Grizzly’s strong, fuzzy arms.
The next morning, I downed my second liquid breakfast. I was still in awe of my new ability to walk into the liquor store and buy whatever I wanted. It was Memorial Day, and I entered a mass of greasy, half-nude bodies to meet some girlfriends for another day of drinking. I weaseled my way through the madness. Young adults, many under age, I’m sure, were funneling beer and doing body-shots off each other. Men played grab-ass with skin-baring girls who batted their bloodshot eyes. Couples groped each other on beach towels and in the sand. I saw every bikini pattern imaginable, from bright yellows to ruffles to zebra prints, in every cut and shape.