Cafe 227

Saturday, July 15, 2006

My Sober Adventure on U Street

I first saw him as I left Chi Cha Lounge. He was on the other side of U Street in front of those drab, brown-brick residential high-rises, holding onto a fence post for balance. Whatever energy he had left at 2am on a nascent Saturday morning was expended on trying to keep himself upright and balanced. He wasn't having much luck.

Under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn't have paid him much mind. I may not have even noticed him. But unlike everyone else's on U Street last night, my faculties hadn't been impaired by hours upon hours of drinking. I had a few glasses of wine earlier in the evening, but I switched to club soda at around 10pm for the remainder of the night.

(Why club soda, you ask? Because everyone assumes it's either gin- or vodka-and-tonic. That way, you can avoid the astonished and somewhat accusatory questions demanding an explanation for why you're not drinking, as if choosing not to drink on a Friday night were symptomatic of deeply-seeded antisocial and/or threatening behavior. Also, club soda tastes sufficiently bad so as to fool your palate into thinking you are drinking. This strategy only fails when someone offers to buy you a drink or proceeds to buy you a drink without your knowledge. No one, however, has ever offered to buy me a drink, so this has never been a problem for me. But I digress...)

"Look at that guy across the street," I remarked to my housemate, pgh girl. "He's in pretty bad shape. We should see if he's okay."

(As you can tell, I'm still feeling more than a bit guilty from watching some guy get mugged right in front of my house and doing absolutely nothing about it...)

"I'm hungry," she replied. "Let's stop at McDonald's - I want a cheeseburger."

See, my roommate did not subject herself to the same self-imposed drinking constraints that I subjected myslef to last night. Hence, the drunk, barely conscious man dangling from a fence across the street or my attempt to draw attention to his existence did not register with her. Outmatched by the allure of a McDonald's cheeseburger, I begrudgingly forged ahead on U Street.

But sometimes you just can't escape destiny. As we were waiting in the interminable line at the McDonald's "walk-up" window, I heard some commotion behind me. I turned around to see the object of my previous curiosity stumbling down the street. And I mean that literally - he was stumbling down 14th Street into oncoming traffic, completely unaware of his surroundings yet somehow pirouetting between the motorists as they swerved past him at full speed, honking their horns in surprise, anger, and warning.

"That guy's going to get himself killed. I'll meet you at home." I took leave of my housemate and darted across the street, almost causing an accident myself in the process. I grabbed my new acquaintence and led him over to a stoop, ignoring his muffled protests along the way.

"What's your name man?"

"Mwweahw," he unhelpfully replied.

By this time, my housemate (who had ignored my subtle request to go home) had made her way over to us, McDonald's bag in tow.

"What's his name?" she asked through a mouthful of french fries.

"I have no idea. But I'm not dealing with this. I'm calling an ambulance."

Not knowing precisely how to call an ambulance, I called 911 hoping that they could call an ambulance for me. A woman answered immediately.

"What's the emergency?" she asked.

I was seemingly unprepared for this question. "Um, some guy's tripping balls out here, um, on U Street."

"Excuse me?"

I collected my thoughts. "Um, there's a barely conscious man here on 14th and U Streets, the Northeast corner."

"So you're at 14th and U, Northeast?"

I clarified. "No no, the Northeast corner of 14th and U Northwest."

"Where??"

"Near Republic Gardens."

This apparently resonated with her. "Oh. An emergency response team will be there right away."

I walked back to the stoop, where my housemate was giving a pep talk to our new friend.

"You can go home now," I said to pgh girl. "I'll wait here with him until the ambulance comes so he doesn't get jacked."

"You called an ambulance!? Why? He just needs a cab. His name's Andrew, and he's visiting his sister."

While I was impressed at my housemate's ability to translate our new friend's muddled nonsense into English, I was unmoved by her plea.

"Oh really? I bet he doesn't even know where his sister lives."

Pgh girl was defiant. "Well we won't know unless we ask. Where does your sister live Andrew?"

"4608 North Georgetown Street, Arlington," Andrew garbled before passing out.

"See? Let's just put him in a cab and give the cabie some money to take him there," pgh girl suggested.

"Um, I'm pretty familiar with Arlington, and I don't think North Georgetown Street exists."

"Well, whatever we do, we can't call an ambulance," she replied. "He's perfectly fine."

At that, we both glanced over at Andrew, who was either channeling the minions of satan or vomiting in his mouth.

Pgh girl had a sudden change of heart. "You know what? I'll just meet you at home. I really want to eat this cheeseburger."

____________________

It didn't take long for the emergency response team to get there. I told them what happened, gave them my business card in case they had any follow-up questions, and headed home. I slept well last night, comforted by the prospect of a productive, hangover-free Saturday.

Andrew, if this post somehow finds you (stranger things have happened), I hope you're doing okay.

7 Comments:

  • mmmmmm french fries.

    By Blogger pgh girl, at 9:19 PM  

  • why were you sober, though? Was it another pregnancy scare?

    By Blogger Conor, at 1:55 AM  

  • Hilarious Conor. If you must know, I ran an 8-K on Saturday, and I didn't want a night of drinking to negatively impact my performace. I ended up coming in 164 out of the 180 runners in my age/gender division, and 779 out of 966 overall. A 71-year old man crossed the finished line 1 second before me. So clearly my plan worked well.

    By Blogger Johnny Shades, at 2:34 AM  

  • You did good there...it sounds like the guy probably had mid-grade alcohol poisoning. Also, from a consequentialist perspective, waking up in a hospital will probably have a much more profound impact on his future drinking habits.

    By Blogger Jiyan, at 12:07 PM  

  • So...we were at the same bar last night. Interesting. I wonder if we spoke, I was at the bar the whole night. Anyone who wanted a drink had to come through me, as a gaggle of idiot girls were blocking most of the rest of the bar.

    By Blogger Velvet, at 8:28 PM  

  • If by "last night" you mean "Saturday night," then no. This took place Friday night. Saturday night, I was "running" an 8-K.

    By Blogger Johnny Shades, at 9:58 PM  

  • Your wistful tone and search for affirmation are charming, Johnny, sort of like a retarded puppy.

    By Blogger Chico's Bail Bonds, at 1:31 PM  

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