When I was 19, I had a pretty good group of guy friends. We hung out a lot, and they were good Catholic boys and I was a good un-Catholic girl, so we never caused any trouble with the exception of that one time when we were hanging out late at night at a local bar & grill, sipping our Sierra Mists, and I accidentally submerged the late-night crowd in a downpour of blood shooting straight out of my sniffer.
So, there we were, 5 of us, sitting around a table in the darkly lit bar area, yuckin’ it up and having the kind of grand ol’ time that 19-year-olds have when they don’t drink. We’d just come back from a friendly church league baseball game (of which I was not a part — due to the fact that I a) did not go to church and b) could not — do not — hit a softball properly). I was wearing a crisp spaghetti-strapped white tank top I got that afternoon at JC Penney, and it had a word written in rhinestones across the front. If my memory serves me correctly, that word was “REBEL,” which is outstanding and a total lie, because the worst thing I’d done that decade had been to get my ears pierced in a sketchy parlor in Myrtle Beach on a spring break which involved zero drinking, zero sex and one fun… But which got me grounded for two weeks. At age17.
Anyway, the guys and I were sitting there, and our food had just arrived. My friend N had ordered these delicious cinnamon poppers that came with a variety of sauces, one of which resembled a strawberry jam. As he’s popping his popper into the jam, the jam flips off the table and onto his pleated khaki shorts, and we all started cracking up. What happened next, I could not possibly make up.
You see, my older, smarter, shorter sister and I are very different people with very twin-like mannerisms. She was not there that night, but she understands this story. It’s because we’ve both got this gyrating laugh. Like, if something terrifically funny happens, we not only laugh with our mouths, we laugh with our entire upper torso. Sometimes, most often in fact, no sound comes out. We laugh and laugh and alternate between breathing heavily and not breathing at all, and our shoulders heave with exasperation, while our heads bob up and down uncontrollably. It’s really quite ridiculous, but we simply can’t help it.
So anyway, that night, the strawberry sauce is all over N’s shorts and someone says something funny, and hilarity suddenly overcomes me. I begin to laugh so hard, I can’t breathe, so I grab my Sierra Mist to take a sip and hydrate, but as I grab the cup, I begin laughing so hard again, that my head violently jolts downward as I bring the cup up to my face. The straw conveniently and immediately shoots straight up my nostril, into some strange canal I believe probably leads to my eye sockets and hippocampus — which today, likely accounts for my increasingly terrible eyesight and even worse memory — and SNAP. The straw punctures something somewhere between my septum and my cerebrum. .
So, the straw is up my nose for just a couple of seconds, and when I yank my head back up, the flood gates open, and blood starts flowing. Nonstop.
Blood has found itself down my neck and onto my REBEL shirt, and I am beginning to look the part.
I run to the bathroom and am in there for a good 20 minutes, crying and leaning my head back, trying to clog the blood-snot with paper-thin restaurant toilet paper. My friends don’t come check on me. I mean, they’re boys, but they could yell through the door, or ask a female waitress to come make sure I’m alive. But no one did. I was horrified. I didn’t want to go back out there, with my blood-encrusted nostrils and red smears across my chest.
As I walk back to the bar, head held high (but out of sheer bodily necessity — it had nothing to do with confidence, I assure you), my friends are all, “Dude, that was awesome!” and I realize they’re sitting a few tables away from where we originally were, and that the staff had brought out the sanitary spray bottles to hose the place down. And that’s pretty much how the story ends.
So anyway, this is Straw Story #1: Please stay tuned for Straw Story #2.