A friend of mine (I love you, Weezie!) recently commented that my travel disasters don’t often seem to occur in the good ole U.S. of A., and so, I humbly submit the following for judgement. It will start with an ill-conceived road trip, meander through a whole lotta vomit and general offense, and end with a high speed car chase. Well, not really, but there were definitely high speeds, a BMW (not mine) and a cop involved…
Ahhh, 1998. The year of Britney, the death of plaid flannel, and… organic chemistry. Now, don’t get me wrong, like, I’m smart. Fuck, I had an A for a solid year in honors chem as a freshman! Like, I like chemistry. You know, like-ish. There was just somthin’ about the O-chem, the Orgo, the ‘what the double fuck are you babbling, sir??’ that I just couldn’t wrap my head around. A solid year of this subject did I sit through, and I don’t mean ‘listen to’, or ‘absorb’ or, god forbid, ‘learn’, I literally mean ‘sit through’, as one visibly glazed with incomprehension and thickly filmed with vodka. It had gotten so bad by the end of the second semester of orgo required for my degree, that I literally did not even study for my final. Instead, I chose to spend the preceding evening watching the Indiana Jones trilogy straight through and concocting dinner out of ice cream and this new cool beverage that had just appeared on campus. Maybe you’ve heard of it, Tequiza? It’s like tequila + malt liquor = yup, it was definitely 1998.
Anyway, to go and ruin the ending of a perfectly good story, I walked into the final with a grade of Failing, Not Even Close, took the test, called my mother to tell her I’d have to change my major now, walked straight to the campus bookstore, sold the book back, and spent the evening drinkin’ the proceeds. They were delicious.
But where, you might ask, is the road trip?? Ah, the road trip. So, early in the fall semester, October as I recall, a plan was concocted to drive from our lovely alma mater, the prestigious, illustrious Tulane University, to celebrate our friend’s 21st b-day at the Ole’ Miss Homecoming game. Let us, for the sake of annonymity in what is to follow, just call this friend STM. Perfect time really, he’d been the first of his entire family not to attend Ole’ Miss (that’s the University of Mississippi to all a y’all who ain’t Southern. Yes, that’d be the Deep South, Oxford in fact, and yes, their mascot is still the Southern Rebel, and no, I really don’t wanna talk about how much like the bad bits of a John Grisham novel that town is really actually like. Just see Oxford, Mississippi instead), and the whole crew was going for the annual homecoming tailgate. Plus I’d never been to Mississippi, his brother the CIA-trained chef was running the tailgate, and apparently Southern Living magazine was coming to do a photo shoot of their tent. This could be no tailgate I’d ever heard the like of, so who cared if I had a giant o-chem test the next tuesday, I’d just study in the car, and what could possibly go wrong? At all of 18 years of age, I knew I was hot shit, I mean, I went to Uni at a school that Playboy had refused to rank the year before on its list of Top 10 American Drinking Schools because, and I quote, ‘we don’t compare amateurs with professionals’. Y’all think a lil’ bit o’ Good Ole’ Boy could stop me? Well, yes, as it turns out, a little bit of southern redneck did in fact kick my pathetic Yankee ass.
So we took off that sunny Friday, STM drove the approximately six hour trip in approximately 3 hours, and was then promptly pulled over for thinking he could drive like, 9,385 miles per hour in bum-fuck Mississippi in a shiny new sports car. Note that my study time was now cut by 25%… Oxford is actually quite lovely, in a slightly antebellum kind of way, and we had a glorious time socializing with the old money side of the family, getting trashed in a red-neck southern-rock bar, and generally pre-gaming hard for the pre-game for the game.
When Saturday dawned, I felt in severe need of… something. I’m still not quite sure what fixes hang-overs, but I think I’ve learned that it is not Abundant Quantities of Wine. In fact, I think I even knew that then. Oh well, that’s what was on hand. At 8am. I mean, why wouldn’t we get to the tailgate a little early? So wine progressed through more wine and on to even more expensive vino, and I think I tried the chef-brother’s food, but who can say really, and then… there was more wine. So much wine, in fact, that when some uncle of STM asked me ‘And where are you from, darlin’?’ and I replied ‘Oh, I’m from Cleveland’, and he said ‘Oh really? Cleveland, Mississippi?’ I thought it appropriate to reply ‘For fuck sake, sir, do I sound like I’m from Cleveland, Mississippi?’. At some latter point than this, I realized that what goes in must also come out, and not always by the appropriate opening, and so I detoured to the stunningly sparklingly clean restrooms to inappropriately evacuate myself. And there I learned what the South is really all about. That’s right: rich white college kids vomiting all over themselves in the toilets while poor black bathroom attendant ladies hand them napkins and helpfully pick them up off the floor. Seriously, where the fuck am I??
So after that I kinda gave up. There was more wine. There was a trip to the campus store to purchase Rebel paraphernalia. And then there might coulda been what we shall term a bit of a face-plant into the back-seat of the offending BMW. I can’t speak to this part really, as Southern ladies do not tend to recal such things, but I was definitely informed later that I passed out, face down, legs hanging out the door, dome light blinking and beeping annoyingly, at about 1pm. I did not see the football 😦
Now clearly most of this is entirely my fault, but I still deny deserving what followed. After schlepping me to the hotel room, everyone else decided to rent a limo and drive up to Memphis to celebrate STM’s big birthday on Beale Street (that’d be Tennessee’s answer to Bourbon Street. And lemme just tell y’all which is better…). But this isn’t quite as ridiculous as it sounds, ’cause Memphis is only like, an hour away, even without the help of STM and his land-speed-breaking BMW. From what I hear, it was a roaring success, everyone got blitzed on buckets of disgustingness, and I generally fucked that up by not going. All I now for sure, however, is that when the lovely couple, who we will definitely NOT name by name, with whom we were all sharing a hotel room, returned from Beale Street, extra liquor-buckets of foulness in hand, and decided to quite noisily bonk their mutual brains out in the neighboring bed at 6 in the goddam morning, I was definitely not, as The Guy in the couple said “Totally asleep. So don’t worry, babe, she can’t see you bouncing around on my dick”. Oh, I saw. And I heard. And then I heard again. And if I’d been another day older or an ounce less Still Drunk, I probably woulda slapped someone upside the fucking head. Live and learn, I suppose.
Four hours and an eternity after that stirring performance, we attempted to return to the relative state of sanity known as Louisiana. This did not go well. About 10 minutes into the 3 / 6 hour drive, I had just nosed open my O-chem book, when the car honked. No, not on purpose, more from the impact of STM’s head hitting the steering wheel as he passed out at 3,506,827 miles per hour. He swears to this day it wasn’t the hangover, or even the massive Still Drunk I suspect he was harboring, but the narcolepsy. That’s right, I was actually attempting to learn about left-handled organic molecules of evil while being propelled through northern Mississippi at just under light-speed by a narcoleptic drunk (I love you, STM!). The only person affected by this (you know, other than anyone else in the general vicinity of the I-55 South) was, clearly, passed the fuck out in the passenger seat, happily oblivious to all and sundry (Ha! Who else but me can say ‘sundry’ in a blog!). After about the fifth ‘BONK-HONK’, I’d had it.
Me: ‘Pull the fuck over, I’m driving.’
STM: ‘Nah, nah, I’m totally fine.’
Me: ‘Pull the fuck over or you will not be fine because I will have murdered you from behind.’
STM: ‘Oh ok, fine.’
Note that my study time had now disintegrated, much like anyone stuck studying left-handed molecules of evil might be tempted to do, into: exactly nothing. But hmm, I thought craftily, I do know that this BMW can break the sound barrier quite easily, and perhaps I can get us home in time to learn something. Oh, and not have to spend another minute on this holiday-from-hell…
So I drove like a rally-sport racer on crack, and had nearly gone a couple miles when…
‘POLICIA! POLICIA!,’ screamed my formerly-dead-asleep passenger.
Huh. Now what the fuck is a ‘policia’? I wondered, just until I saw the flashing lights.
It occured to me, as I waited for the single largest human being I have ever seen, before or since, to drag his enormous, cop-uniformed bulk over to my window, that I was not exactly in a position from which I could bargain with this Policia. Let’s look at the facts: small white girl, 18 years old, vastly out-of-state drivers lisence, not my car, entire enterior stinking of Liquor-Bucket of Vomit (no, like literally, someone had saved one of the Beale Street Liquor Buckets to keep in the back of STM’s BMW in case of, you know, emergencies. It subesquently proved it’s worth to be its weight in gold), containing three potentially, hypothetically, shit-faced Tulane kids. On the plus side, I hadn’t had a drink in like, well over 24 hours… Still, this didn’t look good to even me, and I’m not in the habit of being paid to arrest people 😦
So I took my ticket (91 in a 70, if we’re bein’ truthful, which really ain’t that fast, btw), nodded politely, and spent the next 5.5 hours driving that horrid BMW at a speed distinctly slower than it wanted to go. There was no studying accomplished that evening and, to make a bad story worse, I got a whopping 23% on that fucking test. Although my prof did have to curve us to make a 50% passing, so really I was quite close!
So ends my tale of U.S.-Based Disaster Travel.
Oh, and that second semester final? Turns out my prof was actually lazier than any of his students. Literally the only thing I’d looked at the night before was our three tests, and the final that fucker gave was those three, stapled together, with the digits changed. Backtracking later, I figure I musta got at least a 100% on that final to pull what I’d walked in with up to the C- I ended up getting in the class. I’d say it was only fate’s fair exchange for that lost October weekend of death.