Three at Twenty-Three
So here I am. I’m alone in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport on a layover reading over the eulogy that I’m about to deliver in two days. What are the odds that I’d be here for a second time in my life? I never travel. What are the friggin’ odds? My God. The last time I was here was 13 years ago? 14 years ago?
What fun! We’re going New Orleans, on a whim, to watch the Giants play the Saints. The Giants are already done for the season, but someone hands us four free tickets to the game. What the hell! It’s two weeks before Christmas. Let’s go.
The flight is booked before I know it. My sister and her boyfriend arrange for all of us to stay in a carriage house near Bourbon Street. I’m amazed that they were able to orchestrate something like that on such short notice. I blink my eyes and we’re at Newark Airport boarding the plane. My friend, Kerry, makes it by the skin of her teeth as usual.
What the hell am I doing? I never did stuff like this when I was with him. Just up and go on a spur of the moment weekend trip to New Orleans. Hmm. Screw him. I’m going to live my life. Thank God Kerry and I have become such good friends at work. She’s really teaching me how to live my life.
The carriage house is gorgeous. Fresh flowers on the kitchen table. A basket of fruits, cheeses, and champagne awaits us. We dump our luggage, have a snack, and wave goodbye to my sister and her boyfriend. Kerry’s been to New Orleans before. We’re about to have the time of our lives. She always seems to know how to have fun.
We’re walking down Bourbon Street. Kerry actually know someone. Jesus Christ! She knows people everywhere we go. Why can’t I be more like her? Outgoing, smart, average looking, but every guy wants to be with her. It’s her self-confidence that attracts them. Brief pang of jealousy that she’s everything I’m not.
We walk the streets drinking and drinking. We pee our pants laughing at the whores and drunks, not realizing that we’re quickly becoming just that. The city itself is intoxicating. The music, the people, the air. We stumble back to the carriage house to take a break from our drinking extravaganza. Somehow we have large drinking glasses that read “Hurricane” on the side [I held onto those glasses for about 10 years]. My sister and Bob are slightly buzzed from their refined dinner. We decide to do gymnastics in the middle of the living room. We’re snorting with laughter. We give each other scores of 10.0 for our sloppy cartwheels and half-baked back bends. We pass out.
The next morning, Kerry convinces me to blow off my sister and Bob for brunch at The Court of Two Sisters. [I regret this decision…my mom and her sister had their picture taken there under the sign years ago and I really wanted to have one taken with my sister. Kerry rolls her eyes when I tell her this so I act as if it doesn’t really mean that much to me]. A complimentary breakfast basket of muffins and fruits is left on the kitchen table. [I still don’t know who has arranged this for us. I suspect it’s on of Bob’s filthy rich clients, but I never find out.] Will I ever have connections like that? How is it that I am always the tag-along of people who are treated like royalty? It dawns on me for a moment that I’ll never be afforded this life-style first hand. Some people fit into that category. I do not.
We meet up with some of the Giants, their managers, their coaches, Kerry’s boyfriend, [the glorified water boy, ahem, locker room assistant manager, who got us the tickets] for dinner. I sit quietly next to Kerry who is dominating the conversation. People laugh. She tells them about law school and charms them with her scathing wit. I have nothing. Her boyfriend seems annoyed that she’s the center of attention. [he eventually goes on to beat her toward the end of their relationship, but we’ll never get to that part of the story]. Did the short, cute guy, Jim? just make eye-contact with me? Nah. I invisibly sit through dinner.
We separate from our dinner companions. More Hurricanes. Hey. There’s a guy I know from college. My roommate had a crush on him. Greg something. He comes over and we talk for a while. He’s kind of cute in his Giants jersey. I find out that he’sd an avid Giant’s fan and follows them to every game with the “Big Blue Travel” club [dear god]. He remembers me as the cool R.A. that lived across the hall from him that used to get high. Great. I don’t bother explaining that my roommate was really the pothead, that it was just a once-in-a-blue-moon-thing for me. We exchange phone numbers and promise to keep in touch when we get back to Jersey [When we return to Jersey we talk on the phone once but nothing ever comes to fruition].
It’s late. We end up at a bar with most of the people that were at dinner. Lawrence Taylor is there. Holy shit. I’m told that he’s recently found God since his last brush with the law and will only in the bar for a few minutes. His holiness seems to have his tongue in the ear of a scantily clad blonde fan of the Giants. [L.T.’s wife and children are back at the hotel, so I’m told]. Kerry’s arguing with her boyfriend in a corner. I hear the boyfriend say something about her flirting with so-and-so. He’s right. She was. I push my way to the bar, order a drink, and smoke a cigarette or twelve. The little guy from dinner, Jim? is next to me. The bar spins. Kerry’s gone and I don’t recognize anyone other than Jim? [with two heads at this point].
Jim? leads me to the door. We’re in a cab. We’re in his hotel room. We’re in his bed. He’s inside of … stop. What’s the fucking matter? I gather my clothes and run out of the room. Stupid fucking drunk whore.
I’m in a cab. I don’t know how it happened but I’m in front of the carriage house fumbling with my keys to get in [I get the distinct feeling that my situation or behavior is not uncommon in this town]. I’m spinning in my cushy carriage house bed. I wake up. Was that a dream? Nope. That’s three at twenty-three.
Giant’s win at the Superdome but it doesn’t matter. The season’s over for them anyway.
We have a layover at Dallas Fort Worth. My contact rips and my glasses are packed away. Kerry and I sit at the bar and drink. We come up with a ridiculous plan to pass the time. We pretend that we don’t speak English and connive the twangy woman behind the Continental Airlines desk to page my sister by the drunken nickname that she was dubbed during our Hurricane High. We pee our pants laughing when Twangy actually gets on the loud speaker and does it. Kerry’s a good friend. She didn’t mean to leave me stranded in a strange bar in a strange town with strange people around. We laugh and drink and drink and laugh. That’s what friends are for. [Later that week, back at the office in Jersey, I tell her that I really like one of my co-workers. We all go out to get bombed after work so that I can ‘get to know him better.’ I find out later that Kerry fucked him that night].
So here I am. I’m alone in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport on a layover. The couple behind me argues over a Petula Clark song, I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love, or something like that.