Raise The Roof

Friday began with a fight, but ended with a fun night.

One of the tough things about being an only child is that my parents will always think of me as their baby. Maybe this is true in families with more than one child as well; I have no idea. I do know that, even at 32, they still feel the need to caution me and repeat things. I'm pretty sure that if I was going to do drugs or become an alcoholic, chances are I would have done it by now. All the concerts, parties, road trips, and other events I've gone to without incident should prove to them that I'm responsible and trustworthy. Yet, after knowing for two weeks that I planned to go to a bar in the city with my friends to celebrate my birthday, they chose that morning to be annoying.

I live in an isolated area where the train times are particularly bad, especially on weekends. At one point there's a seven hour gap, so I can't stay out very late and risk missing the last train. The train near my job runs a little more regularly, just about every hour, but that option ends with me driving home, so while I can stay out later I can't really drink that much. To be honest, I'm something of a lightweight, and I usually stop after one or two beers anyway. Even after making my plans clear, my dad still asked me three times if I wanted him to drive me to work, though in his defense one of those extraneous requests was because he couldn't hear my response to the previous one. When my mom woke up and asked me if I wanted her to drive me to work, I snapped a little bit. “Why don't you trust me? I'm 32!”

My dad went on to explain that they trusted me, but they couldn't trust anyone else with me. “Your friends are not really your friends; just remember that,” was one bit of sage advice, so when I asked him if he'd had a bad experience with friends betraying him or something, he told me he had not, because he picked good friends. “You don't have Rey looking out for you anymore. What if they try to slip something into your drink?” I found that funny enough to actually diffuse my anger somewhat, as I remembered when I first met Rey in college and he used to leave prank messages on our answering machine in funny voices. My parents thought he was on drugs, until they met him and found out he was just a good Christian with a zany sense of humor. I pointed out that I've always picked good friends, so just because they hadn't met any of the people I was hanging out with didn't mean my judgment of people had suddenly changed.

Part of the problem is also the fact that one of my uncles is an alcoholic. His misadventures took place well before I was born, and he's been sober probably for 40, if not 50 years by now. Yet yesterday morning I had to hear the stories about how he would forget where he left his car after a night out, and my mom had to drive around looking for it. Once it was at the end of a dead end street in Queens. Another time she had to report it stolen, so the police could track it down. I pointed out that this was going to be far from my first time in a bar, and I had always exercised moderation. “Yes, but now you're developing a taste for it.” said my mom. I'm not sure how she drew a parallel between her brother going out several nights a week and me going to three birthday happy hours in as many months, but I also knew that it was socializing, not alcohol, that I was developing a taste for. I realized that there have been phases in my life where I stopped hanging out and stayed home just to avoid such arguments. I hate that I've done that, yet once again I heard myself saying, “Fine, I'll just come home after work then.”

At this point, there was massive backpedaling as they both explained that they wanted me to go out, but that I just needed to be careful. Once again I had to cite my track record and ask at what point do I finally prove myself. “It's not that,” said my mom, “It's just that you're our only child, and we worry.” I couldn't really be upset after that, but the whole morning did put a damper on my mood, and as I drove to work I really didn't feel like going out anymore, knowing that I'd feel guilty about them being home worrying.

After a long, exhausting day of work in which I got a lot done, going home and collecting dust in my room with the rest of my worldly goods as I watched a DVD was not going to cut it. I went out, had a few drinks, had some great conversations, and had a lot of laughs. The bar had an electronic jukebox capable of downloading nearly any song. I played a healthy amount of Pearl Jam, U2, and Nirvana. One highlight of the evening was chasing Ice, Ice, Baby with Under Pressure, and getting people around me to sing the lyrics from the former over the latter. I also enjoyed the reactions of “Who the hell put this on?” when Groove is in the Heart played. It was totally worth it.

B13 had declined to join us, so he could stay home to watch his dogs while his wife was out of town, but more importantly to play his new game, Gears of War. One of my friends had criticized him for this, so his plan was for me to call him and put the other guy on the phone when he was drunk, thinking that if he spoke to him, he would think he was there. This was B13's plan. I dialed his number, gave the phone to my friend, and watched as he yelled at him again for staying in to play a video game. Then he handed the phone to me, and I listened to hear that it was still ringing an no one had actually answered. I held down “end” too long and turned the phone off by accident apparently, but my friend later reached B13 with his own phone.

Things started winding down by midnight, and by then I was only drinking water, my parents' voices firmly installed in my brain. Our group had dwindled to about six people, so we moved to a livelier bar. I decided to catch the next train around 1:30, and when I reached Madison Square Garden encountered one of the largest crowds of people I'd ever seen. Clearly a concert or sporting event had just let out. I made my train, but just barely. There was standing room only, and not even that. People were packed into the spaces between spaces, and it took several tries before the doors could close and everyone fit. Sadly enough, I may have been one of the oldest people on the train. Some of the kids began a conversation mirroring one I'd had at the bar, about how worn-out Axl Rose is looking, and how most of his band was now playing in Velvet Revolver with Scott Weiland, another man who's seen too many years and done too many drugs. “Scott Weiland's a faggot!” declared one bruiser with a shaved head and extended chin goatee. Somewhere at the back of the herd, a thick Long Island accent proclaimed, “Anybody what don't like Scott Weiland bettah get off this train right heah!” If there was room to move, there may have been a fight.

I only endured these conditions for two stops, after which I transferred to another line with almost no one on board. Back at the office, my car was right where I'd left it and though tired, I was otherwise fine to drive. At 3 AM, my most frequented route was a pleasure, as I was almost the only car on the road. Now I know how early I need to drive to have an ideal commute. I was glad to see my mom hadn't waited up, though this morning I heard her asking my dad, “What time did he get home?” I regret that I snapped at her yesterday morning, but I don't regret enjoying myself last night. They won't be worried now, at least for another month or so....


Blogger b13 said...

Sorry I missed the festivities :( but the city hasn't been my thing for a while. I did have a great weekend playing Gears of War. It is, by far, the greatest game I have ever played. Go buy it and a 360 while you are at the store.

I appreciate the phone call. I missed yours by a second or two and then tried to call you back. Maybe someone else can explain to you that it won't cost you any more or less to keep your cell phone on. I know I have tried. ;)

And if "Giggity" dropped a pill in your drink I don't want to know about it. Glad you had fun and maybe we will have a Long Island night out soon.

PS...I have a few pics up from the beach.

11/11/2006 6:41 PM  
Blogger Xtine said...

Happy Birthday!

I didnt go to the GunsNRoses concert at MSG but I guess I lost $10. I made a bet with someone at work that Ye Ole Axl would not show up. I see now, based on LIRR comments that I was wrong and am now out 10 bucks.

11/12/2006 9:17 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

My parents never really hassled me about drugs and alcohol, but they still have the overprotective vibe about a lot of things. I'm constantly reminded them how old I am and how it's completely unnecessary. But we're only children. If they don't worry about us, who would they worry about?

11/12/2006 10:34 AM  
Blogger Rey said...

Groove is in the heart. Awesome.

11/14/2006 10:33 AM  

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