Sunday, May 01, 2011

Night to remember

My sister A. convinced me to go out with her and her friend D. on Tuesday night. She works at a restaurant so gets odd nights off, and I was needed to work Saturday so had a gaping hole of a Wednesday off.

I arrive at the bar just as my sister does. We both park in a few spaces on the side of the building adjacent to the bar. No one else is parked there, I figure it's just not filled up yet since it's a Tuesday.

The bar seems to me like a converted old house, with several dark rooms where loud music is pumped in and pop art decorates the walls. This is an old haunt of A.'s, back in the day.

A. orders me a cherry lime drink with vodka. I'm not a teetotaler like I used to be but I'm still wary of alcohol. I still think of it as sinister. But I want to go along and not be lame, so I sip it slowly. A. and D. get brown bottles of Newcastle. We go outside to the patio and sit in the corner. It's a little windy but not cold.

D. is studying to be a medical technician. Apparently he has a few brothers who sometimes get into fights at bars. He seems nice enough, the kind of guy you go to the latest action movie with, the kind of guy you go with for a few drinks at a bar.

D. goes up to the bar and returns with three Jager bombers. Apparently you're supposed to down these in one gulp but I still haven't finished my first drink.

No, I am not fun to drink with.

A. starts talking about her trip to Vegas with D., last summer when she worked in Colorado and did some traveling. Things I didn't know, it's interesting to hear my sister talk like this...

I confess to A. about a conflict I'm having with this guy I've been dating. He might have enjoyed a few beers with us if I'd invited him.

She's sympathetic. "You've got to remind him it's a two-way street." *sighs*

I start on the bomber, which apparently has Red Bull and Jager in it but tastes like cherry cough syrup. I don't want to throw it away, though, so I drink it slowly and try not to gag.

A.'s other friend arrives, a skinny girl with brown-red hair and glasses. This is what I like (and don't like) about hanging out with A. -- she always has a bunch of friends around her.

C. is easy to talk to, outgoing like my sister. We start talking about jobs. I tell her I work in the news.

"Does it make you happy?"

I reply that I don't think of it that way, that a job can make you happy. You serve in a job, not the other way around. But I say that I think it's a good fit with what interests me and what I'm good at.

She bemoans that she just serves food for a living, but then turns philosophical: "Any job can be meaningful, because in every job you can affect people's lives, and they can affect yours."

"You make me want to join the Peace Corps," D. says.

C. treats us to a round of shots. I still haven't finished my bomber. In any case, I won't have a third drink, though I feel bad leaving the shot untouched.

It's 12:30 a.m. A slight buzz has crept into my brain, a vaguely pleasant feeling despite the nasty cherry taste in my mouth. I'm ready to go home. I say good-bye to my sister and say "good to meet you" to her friends.

I find my way out the bar, back to where we parked our cars and....? The worst sinking feeling goes through me. Our cars aren't there. I double check that this is where we parked. It is, next to an office-looking building. My car has been stolen, is my first thought. But could thieves make off with two cars in 2 1/2 hours?

Our cars have been towed. We parked in a 24-hour towing zone.

I go back inside and find my sister at the bar. "Are you serious?"

The bartender gives us the number of the towing company. I call them. Yes, they have our cars. They close at 2 a.m. Cost to get out is $145 *each*! Good news is the impound lot is not too far away.

Ten minutes later, I'm in the front seat of C.'s Chevy Nova and we're driving through Downtown. I love the classic car, despite the circumstances. It feels like being in the padded interior or a tin can.

We turn left at the street the towing company is on. Yup, there it is, the big tow truck, and a bunch of cars inside the gates. Car jail.

A man directs me to get my vehicle registration out of the glove box. My sister has her insurance card.

In this tiny, dimly lit little shack in the back of the lot, we show him our driver's licenses.

My sister pulls money out of her wallet.

"Do you take checks?" I ask.


"Do you take credit cards?"


Oh geez.

But A. saves the day by putting $300 in cash on the table. I give her all the cash in my wallet, about $45, and write her a check for $100.

The man gives me my receipt, directs us outside and opens the gate so we can get out. C. is back in her car, and A. and D. are in her car and backing out before I even get a chance to thank everyone and say goodbye for the last time.

I'm out of there, too. I'm driving through Downtown, extremely glad to have my car back. Ah, here is what I get for partaking of the devil's drink, right?

I feel kind of guilty, but by the time I get home I feel like this is more a case of overzealous towers eager to make a buck. If there is a next time, I'll be more careful where I park.

A. sends me a text message when I get home, apologizing for the evening and asking if I'm OK. I'm OK. I miss my sister and I need to hang out with her more often.

Maybe I'm not a free spirit but I try to be open to new experiences. Even if they involve drinking a cupful of cherry cough syrup and getting my car towed. It's a night we'll laugh about 10 years from now, might as well start now.

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