I was parked just outside of Keagan’s Irish Pub, looking out the driver’s side window, when Kara sneaked up on the passenger side. I jumped a bit as she threw open the front-seat door and practically shouted, “I hate that one-way street! I did that going to work one day and it made me late, and I was like, no!”
She had noticed on the Uber app that I had taken the long way around to the bar. I had forgotten it was on a one-way street in the other direction.
It’s interesting how different people respond differently to alcohol. Some drunks get quiet. Some just mumble incoherently. Not Kara. She gets loud, verbose, and transparent, but she is able to speak with surprising clarity and coherence.
“So, my car’s in the shop. Seriously, my car is so f—ed, and I just worked all day. So, I got a little drunk.”
As I pulled away, the seat belt buzzer went off. “Sorry, you have to put on your seat belt,” I said. “Gotta keep you safe.”
“Okay, but actually it’s fifty-fifty–depending on what kind of accident you’ve been in–whether you live or die.”
“That’s not what they told us in middle school.”
“I mean, the law says you should wear it, but I was a nurse…”
“Is that right? You’re a nurse?”
“What do you do now?”
She answered sheepishly, “Bartender.”
“Why do you say it like that?”
“Cuz. It’s sh–ty.”
“What happened to the nursing?”
“I hated it.”
“Because I watched people die every day. It was horrible.”
“And now you just watch them get drunk.”
“Yeah. Much better.”
Kara was thin, attractive, with pulled-back blonde hair and dangly earrings. She wore a half-zippered hoodie over a tank top and cut off shorts.
“Hey, don’t go the interstate, just go right on the Boulevard. It’s easier.”
“Whatever you say. You’re the boss.”
“Ha. I’m not the boss. I’m nobody’s boss.”
“You’re my boss for the next ten minutes. I’ll go wherever you want to go.”
“Quote: Uber driver says ‘I’ll go wherever you want. You’re the boss.’ Five stars!”
“That’s what I’m talking about! It’s all about the stars,” I said. “You want some water?”
“Bam!” I hand her a bottle of water.
“I should probably drink water. I’ve had five glasses of wine.”
“I know. I got hammered.”
“And now you’re going to Kelly’s? To get more hammered?”
“No, to play some pool.”
“Something tells me you’re not going to play very well.”
“Hey, I was awesome at Keagan’s.”
“I played a guy who was really good, and I had to make three bank shots in a row to beat him. And I did it. But, back eleven years ago, when I was twenty-two…” She laughs.
“Hey, who’s counting?”
“Me. I’m thirty-three.”
“I figured that out. I’m pretty good at math.”
“When I was twenty-two, I played in a league, and whatever team won the league championship went to Vegas for free for a week. And guess who f—ing sank the winning shot?”
“I guess you. And you went to Vegas?”
“Yeah, for a week for free! Dude!”
“Don’t tell me what happened…”
“No I was with a boy that I f—ing hate now.”
“I’m just saying, you know, what happens in Vegas…”
“Oh, right, yeah. It’s all good. My boyfriend at the time was a pompous a—hole. I’m not with him anymore, thank God. I learned everything I need to know about relationships from him because he was such a piece of sh–. So, the relationship I’m in now is awesome.”
“Well, that’s good.”
“Yeah, I’m thirty-three. Not married. No kids.”
“You all right with that?”
“Yeah. I mean, I eventually want them. I don’t want to bring them into a f—ed up life. I have a dramatic, f—ed up mom, that’s enough.”
“What do you mean? Do you take care of her?”
“No. I moved away for a long time. I did travel nursing, and it was really lonely, and I had to do my own bills, and blah-blah-blah. And she had a boyfriend for five years, and then they broke up. So she had this house and this mortgage and no way to pay for it because she only makes fourteen dollars an hour. So I was like, well, I’ll move home, and I’ll help you pay your mortgage, and I’ll be your roommate. Whatever.”
“And for a year we got really really close. Neither of us were dating. Men were really stupid. Then I met this guy–like two months ago. We started hanging out, and we just always wanted to be together. And he lives closer to where I work at the Oceanfront, so I just started sleeping at his house. But my mom is always texting, ‘Oh, I miss you! Why aren’t you home?’ and just blowing up my phone all the time.
“And I’m like ‘Mom, leave me alone, I’m thirty-three years old! I’m paying half the rent. Can you just let me live my life?’”
“So, your mom is jealous of your boyfriend?”
“Yes! So then we have a couple f—ing drunken nights. Where he got sh—ty.”
“Toward your mom?”
“No, not even toward her. Toward himself. He did the sad panda. I tried to reach him, but he was just…”
“He’s a depressed drunk?”
“Yeah. But I’m learning how to deal with it. I know now.
“So there’s this one night when I have to work at ten, and he doesn’t have to work. He wants to go out, and I say, just go, have fun. I trust you. I’m gonna just go home after work. I literally had worked like four doubles in a row. Four twelve-hour days in a row. So I get home and I put my backpack with my phone in it on the floor, and I faceplant with all my clothes on on my bed, and I like frickin’ pass out.
“So he tries to call me at 2:30 in the morning and I don’t answer because I’m f—ing done. I’m out.
“So he calls my mom. And she answers, and he’s like, “Where’s Kara? I’m so worried about her. I’ve been calling and checking mobile patrol to see if she got arrested or a DUI or what’s going on.
“And she’s like, ‘Oh, she’s not here.’
“But I was there. She didn’t even open my door and look.
“So then Allen’s freaking out even more. Then my mom calls like twenty minutes later and she’s like, “Ha ha! She’s been in bed the whole time! I’m so sorry, ha ha.”
“And Allen’s f—ing livid. He’s like, ‘I’ve been calling hospitals looking for her. I’m so upset.’
“And she’s like, ‘You know, you two have been spending too much time together, and you need some time apart. She’s been in my life longer than yours and you just need to back off.’
“And he’s like, “You f—ing stay out of our relationship.”
“And they basically get into it. I mean they were both drunk…”
“Wait, your mom was drunk too?”
“Oh, f— yeah, she was drunk. My mother is a f—ing drunk, and she will never admit it. She, like, wakes up and drinks…
“So she sits me down the next day, ‘Kara, it’s him or me.’
“And I’m like, okay, let me cry about this for second, and let me think about this. You’re my mom, and you’re my place to live, but he’s the guy that I want to have a future with. So, let me try to break up with him.”
“I mean, it’s my mom. I’ve only been with him for like two months. The brain says mom. The heart says man. So I say, let’s go with mom. So I broke up with him, and five minutes later, I’m like, ‘What have I done? Please, no, I didn’t’ mean that.'”
“What did you tell him? You’re breaking up because your mom told you to?”
“Yes! And he laid into me. He’s like, ‘Okay, f— you. Lose my number. I don’t need anybody. I certainly don’t need you. Go f— yourself.’
“It was a night of…just awful. The worst night ever. Later that night we were both drunk and he says, ‘Well, I hope you find somebody before you’re forty.’
“And I say, ‘Well, I hope you find someone with a body like mine with a body like yours–because he’s, you know, a little overweight.
“We were just being ugly trying to hurt each other. A minute later, I’m like, I didn’t mean that because I really love him the way he is, and I don’t care what his body looks like. I mean, I love him. I don’t really care if he has a six-pack of abs or a six-pack of Budweisers.
“And the next day I get a text with like eighty-five paragraphs of ‘Kelli, I’m so sorry. I love you. I want to be with you. I will do anything to fix this.’
“And I f—ing broke down. I said, ‘Yes, I accept your apology. Tell me what we’re going to do. Call me.’ So, I go on the porch to take his call. And I’m crying my a—off.”
“How long ago was this?”
“Three days ago.”
“Three days ago?!”
“Yeah. Well, my mom opens the door, and she’s like, ‘Are you f—ing talking to him?’
“And I just looked at her with tears streaming down my face, and I didn’t say anything. And she’s like, ‘You pack your f—ing bags and get the f— out of my house.’
“And Allen’s on the phone with me hearing all this, and he starts crying. And he’s like, ‘No, baby, I don’t want you to lose your family. I’ll just never see you again, I promise.’
“It’s all like Days of Our Lives bullsh–.
“And I’m like, ‘Mom, he says we’ll never see each other again.’
“And she says, ‘No, get the f– out of my house.’
“So I packed my sh–. I’m like, ‘Good luck with the mortgage making f—ing fourteen dollars an hour.'”
“So you moved out?”
“Well, my stuff is mostly still there. See, she doesn’t want me to be with him, but she kicked me out of the house, and I have nowhere else to go, but with him. So, she basically pushed me into his arms.”
“What’s her problem with Allen?”
“She thinks he’s an a—hole. But see, she and her sister–who is her best friend–have both been married four times. So am I really going to take relationship advice from women who have been married four times?
“I sent her a text thanking her for giving me an ultimatum that forced me to choose the man who has loved me more than anyone has ever loved me. I’m like, thank you for that.”
At this point, we arrived at Kelly’s.
“I’m sorry I just told you all that sh–. It’s just that I’m going through so much right now.”
“Kara, it’s no problem. Really. I love hearing stories. In fact, I write this blog.” I handed her a card. “I think I’m going to have to write about you.”
“But don’t worry, I’ll change your name.”
“I don’t care what name you use. But, just, remember, you know–sometimes love conquers all.”