When I was 25 I moved out of my parents’ house and moved into an illegal basement apartment in Nutley. I lived below my 2 friends Pete & Gizz. There are so many tales to tell: having parties & peeing in garbage cans, drinking way too much, singing Janis Joplin at the top of my lungs at 1 am, the sewage flood that filled my apartment with skunky sewer water, the lewd and lascivious neighbor who kept sniffing around me and the cave cricket invasion.
But one story always stands out.
Angel and Suzanne came over around 9 pm on Thursday night. I already cut up some imported provolone, fresh mozzerella and hot sopressata, but no one was hungry. Gizz and Pete evidently smelled women in my apartment, so they sped down the stairs to take a better look. Gizz had a thing for Angel and swore that she felt the same way.
Angel brought over 2 magnums of Champagne, Suzanne brought a bottle of White Zin and Gizz and Pete marched down with a bottle of Anisette, a bottle of Peach Schnapps and a bottle of Root Beer Schnapps. A lethal combination.
Angel and Sue sat comfortably on my small couch that Maria’s friend gave me, while the rest of us curled up on the floor with bottles and glasses scattered all over the rug waiting for us to indulge. We polished off both bottles of Champagne, the Zin, a few shots each of all the liquors and were still determined to go to Ashley’s and party some more.
Ashley’s was a club in Clifton behind Rowe Manse Emporium. It became a second home to me when my dad locked me out at 2:30 am and I had to find a place to stay. Even though I was living in my own apartment, it was still my favorite hang-out until 6 am.
We were all getting ready to go when Angel’s beeper went off. It was her boyfriend who wanted her to come home because he had just lost his job. Angel raced home to comfort him and abandoned us “tout a coup”. Suzanne left us too because she was tired and needed some sleep. Pete went to bed, so the only die-hards left were Gizz and I.
Being the socially irresponsible people that we were, we took off in his white Corvette and headed over to Ashley’s. I think we were so lit that we didn’t even remember walking in. Gizz and I approached the main bar and stationed ourselves in front of Tony. Tony, the bartender, made some fierce drinks, so we always hung around his quadron.
I sucked down 5 Red Devils, 2 shots of Silk Panties and a shot of Sambuca, but still had back-up drinks in front of me. Gizz and I decided to head over to the dance floor. We made our way through a thick crowd and found ourselves a spot with a little elbow room right in the center. We danced like crazed lunatics (or so I was told the next day) ready to perform a voodoo ritual. We fell into each other and everyone else and simultaneously felt a rush of booze invade our bodies and brains. By this time we were both plastered and I remember thinking at the time, that I was the only one who was drunk, but we were both hammered.
Back at the bar I was still in the mood to groove, so I held on to the big, brass rail along the edge of the bar and started to bump and grind all by myself. Gizz gulped down another shot and I was complaining to Tony that I couldn’t finish all my drinks that were lined up on the bar like soldiers. Tony told me to take the glasses home with me for next time, so I stuffed a couple in my black, skin-tight mini skirt and proceeded to leave and make our way back to the car.
The Vette seemed lower to the ground than usual. We took off up the hill and made our way onto Centre Street. We were moving fast! In perfect synchronicity, Gizz missed the turn, jumped the curb in front of the funeral parlor, drove up the sidewalk and made a perfect “U ey” in the middle of the road. We made it home safely (someone had to be watching over us) and stumbled out of the vehicle.
I followed him up his steps and entered my apartment from inside his. There was no way that I could get in the door alone. We said goodnight and I went downstairs to crash. The rest was a blur. The next thing I remember was laying in bed overwhelmed by bed spins. I jolted up and ran to the bathroom to yak but ran into a closed bathroom door. I couldn’t figure out why it was closed. I lived alone. I knocked on the door like a maniac and my boyfriend John, now my husband, was on the other side. Needless to say, I was SICK.
When I felt better I asked John how he got into my apartment. He told me that he rang the doorbell at least 20 times and I answered the door in nothing but a silk, green g-string.
The next morning, hungover and all, I voyaged into the city to go to work. Gizz wimped out and stayed home in bed all day. I was worthless!
To this day I do not remember ever having opened the door. It could have been my shady neighbor! Thank God it ended well.
I think about all the stupid things I did when I was younger and I am so grateful for having survived them. Today I think I am a better woman because I learned from them. And now I know that my mother was just trying to protect me from myself!