‘Is the chair coming off?’ the bus-driver asked Sarge.
‘No,’ I said ‘I thought I’d leave the chair here and walk off myself. Have a nice day.’ And I went down the ramp.
Two more ramps and I was on a train to Glasgow. As I dug my book out of my backpack, I realised this was the first time I’d done such a trip without Sarge. And I began to miss him, because I am sap.
I had plans to meet friends and camp out in the pub before spending the night at my Dad’s. Another ramp and I was at the bar.
Perhaps because I am a word-nerd and a beer-snob, I might have laughed.
‘Um. Raspberry.’ And then I read a sign that said the pub would be closing at the exact time I was meeting my friends. Maybe I shouldn’t have laughed.
I drank my raspberry beer, and I waited. Nobody else was in a hurry to leave. I may have actually looked up at the sky through the trees and said ‘I’m home.’ My friends arrived, and then another one. Then we got the chair and ourselves into a rather small car and went somewhere else. I told the story of how last year four people and the chair jig-sawed into a Fiat. And off we went. Good times.
The next place wasn’t closing, so we got dinner. I kept noticing things on the menu that Sarge liked.
‘I miss him. Is that weird?’
‘Yes. But no. But yes. More drink?’
We ate, and drank. And I swear peanut-butter cheesecake was cosmically placed on the menu just for me. Because my cheese-phobic boyfriend wasn’t there. Of course I ordered it, but I couldn’t finish it. I might have shed a tear.
At one point, my best friend knocked over my drink in a frenzy when her boyfriend walked through the door. Now. I cannot truthfully say that I don’t spill, drop or otherwise despatch my unfinished drinks sometimes, Sarge or no Sarge. But as I laughed and dabbed my vodka-soaked thigh, I asked my friends, ‘Are we that bad?’ I knew they’d speak the truth.
‘Worse. You guys are worse. But we love you.’
And that’s the truth.
We decided to do shots. For purely practical reasons. There is less for me to spill. I’m not co-ordinated enough to do tequila justice. There are too many steps. I do the salt and the licking in the wrong order. It makes me nervous. So I was on the B52s, which has only one step.
Sarge texted that he was bored and working late. He wanted vicarious excitement. I texted back: Doing shots and discussing rules of grammar. Does that work?
My friends are cool.
After arguing semi-colons; I asked if anybody wanted to come back to my Dad’s; so I could beat them at Poker. It was easier to get the chair in the car the second time round. The designated driver drove his sister and me to my Dad’s house. We talked about ethics and equality and the merits of good tequila until early in the morning.
My Dad’s cool, too.
Later that day, I went up another ramp into the taxi to the train station.
‘Where do you come from?’
‘Here,’ I said.
‘Where you going?’
This seemed to confuse the driver, who changed the subject to the weather.
I was browsing the books at Waverly, when Sarge says, ‘I thought I’d find you with the books.’
I was home again.
Home isn’t just one place, because some people have lots of places. Home is the people waiting for you when you get there.
Last weekend, Sarge and I went to the pub (OK, two pubs) to meet with friends and prove that he had survived meeting my mother. We left the first pub in search of another one with an accessible toilet.
I spend half my life needing to pee, and the other half looking for an accessible toilet to pee in. I have accepted this as an interesting/annoying part of my life, and go with it. Or not. (Pun maybe intended, I haven’t decided.)
Anyway. We arrive at what has become one of my favourite places to drink. Comfy couches, generous measures, and the much sought-after accessible toilet. A girl could get spoiled. Almost.
On this night, I ordered and made my way to the bathroom, where I did not have to pop my shoulder to lock the door. Maybe that was the problem, it was too easy.
Fast forward to turning to leave. And I couldn’t. No, there was no dubious graffiti to hold my attention (although, nothing beats ‘Stephen Hawking hates karaoke’ which I read off the wall of an accessible toilet in Glasgow once. OK, maybe twice.) No, the walls were clean this time.
The door that had been so easy to lock wouldn’t unlock. That’s right. I was locked in the toilet. By myself.
The latch was, um, bent. I tried to push it through with my nail(s), which until this point I’d wondered why I’d let them get so long. That didn’t work. I may have rattled. I may have banged. I may have looked for the emergency cord, which, when needed, wasn’t actually there. I may have cursed graduating from bobby pins in my hair. I may have shouted ‘Hey, you guys?!’ And then, ‘Lo?’ And then, ‘YO!’ I may have done all of these things. And then I banged some more.
Now. I wasn’t really worried. I just wondered at what point Laissez-faire would become ‘What the hell is she doing in there?’
There was a knock. I froze. Who would it be to spring me? And who would I be to them? Would I be my-loveable-kooky-girlfriend or some-random-crazy-bird-who-locked-herself-in-the-loo?
‘It’s me, are you OK?’ When Sarge became my Knight in Shining Army Boots, this was not in the job description.
‘Um, no. The lock is (broken). I can’t get out.’
‘Oh. Right. I’ll get the bar staff.’
And he might have said, ‘My girlfriend is locked in the toilet.’
‘They said to push the latch with your finger.’
‘Tried that. Not working.’
And I heard someone else. ‘Oh. Right.’ And then, ‘Stand back. I’ll kick the door in.’
And so. I parked between the toiled and the far wall, and actually shut my eyes. ‘Ready!’
As doors go, this one went quickly I suppose.
‘We’ll have someone fix that. Very sorry. Can I offer you a drink on the house?’
‘YES.’ I’d forgotten I wasn’t speaking through a door. ‘I think so. Yes. Thanks. And a round for my friends?’
We decided afterwards we should have ordered Champagne.
And so. If you ever want free drinks, consider getting locked in the toilet. And then don’t do it.
Because Broadside and Oh My Words! wanted to know, here are 10 random, or maybe not-so random facts about moi:
1. When I was a kid, I thought Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton were married. Because everyone who sang duets were married to each other. Obviously. I also thought Nina Simone was a man. Because, well, just because.
2. I was born in Dallas, was a kid in New York, and grew up in the Highlands of Scotland. My accent is mine, and according to Sarge is ‘under several influences.’ Except when I’m on the phone with my mother, at which times it is back on Long Island.
3. I have CP. I am, by choice, a pretty-much-permenant wheelchair-user. Unless there’s a party going on upstairs.
4. When I was seven, I had various bits medically broken and stretched, all at once. I have ten scars that are so much a part of me; I don’t see them anymore.
5. I lost all four of my grandparents within five years. How and when they died has coloured the way I look at life.
6. Growing up, my mental age was 40. Now that I am 30, I feel that I’m actually my true age.
7. I used to laugh entirely through my nose. Now I laugh out loud. I blame Sarge.
8. I can have entire conversations using only movie quotes. I cannot blame Sarge.
9. One of my nicknames at Uni was Phoebe. As in The One From Friends.
10. I once fell off a toilet in Pisa, Italy. I was not drunk. This incident has since been dubbed ‘The Leaning Toilet of Pisa’.