Yesterday on Twitter, Dean Koontz mentioned that when he was in college, he cut class to play in Pinochle tournaments. When I was going to Marshall University, I skipped class once in awhile when it interrupted my hangover.
The day I woke up under a dining room table to the sound of 200 birds was definitely one of those days. I don’t remember how I ended up there, and when I first woke up I feared I must’ve been kidnapped or some sort of foul play had been enacted upon my person since I normally slept on a water bed at this point in time. Quit laughing. It was the late 80s. Everyone slept on a water bed back then.
Nathan, guy I was dating when this happened, lived in a frat house, which did not have a dining room, much less a dining room table, and the only time I stayed there, we slept in his twin bed.
My immediate panic that there might be someone with a gun on the other side of the off-white linen tablecloth drooping down from the table above me was assuaged when I realized I had slept with a feather pillow under my head and a down comforter over me, and I’m pretty sure those are not tools of the trade of your average kidnapper.
And then, there were the birds, not a good idea to harbor your human cargo in a room full of squawking creatures who obviously weren’t happy that I was there, or, maybe, they were just hungry. I really didn’t care because their racket was amplifying my dehydration headache from that smashing hangover I was experiencing.
Though my fear of being a hostage had dimmed, my next concern was that I had done irrevocably stupid like leaving the bar where I worked with a bar patron – or worse a friend of Nathan’s. Nathan was out of town at the beach with his sister, and we had been seeing each other for a couple of months. We hadn’t had “the talk” to determine whether we were exclusive or not, but if this little makeshift bed had been shared with a frat boy who knew Nathan, there pretty much wouldn’t be much point in having that little chat.
I looked at my watch, which indicated it was 3:44. I assumed it was afternoon because I could see some major daylight beaming in from outside my camp under the table, if you will. And the last concrete memory I have from the previous night was around 3 a.m. when I settled up my tips with the bartender at the Monarch Cafe (in Huntington, West Virginia, my hometown) where I worked back then. As I recall, the waitresses were required to give the bartenders 10% of our take.
Finally, I garnered the courage to lift up the tablecloth, I saw a messy and very ordinary desk and four cages with 3 or 4 very small white birds hopping around and chirping their little beaks off. I had no recollection of any of my friends having birds at pets, so these little feathered friends of whomever lived here were no help in solving the mystery of where the hell I was.
My quandary was interrupted by a hearty bout of laughter. I glanced to my right and much to my relief I saw Paula, my coworker at the Monarch, who was one of the bartenders. She was five foot nothing, had long blonde hair, and the face of a cherub. I always teased her saying her parents had stolen her face off the label of a baby food jar. Whenever I wanted to annoy her at work, I called her Babyface. She’d just roll her eyes and said, “One of these days, Smith, I’m gonna tape your butt cheeks together,” she reply laughing in homage to The Breakfast Club, of course, which had just graced the theaters a year or so before she and I started working together.
“Oh, thank God, it’s you,” I said smiling.
Paula giggled. “Where did you think you were?” she asked, her light blue eyes twinkling.
“I had no clue, but I was hoping and praying I hadn’t been kidnapped by some delusional grandmother-”
Paula laughed again.
“Or I’d left the bar with one of Nathan’s friends.”
“Nope. Just me, and I don’t think any of Nathan’s friends were there last night.”
“I didn’t think so either, but after that third Kamikazi, everything kinda fades to black. Thank you letting me stay here, but why am I under the table?”
“You said you can’t sleep on couches, and my roommate would freak if you slept in her bed.”
“Don’t ask. She’s more than a little O.C.D.” Paula said, “She’s more than a little touched in the head if you know what I mean, and these damned cockatiels are hers,” she said.
I nodded. “Why so many birds?”
“They were found in an abandoned house, and she couldn’t bear to separate them. She feared it would give them some sort of mental illness.”
I laughed. “Okay, then. So, next time if I get tanked, and I’m unable to drive, feel free to take me to my place. No roommates. Just two cats who won’t bother you unless you’re covered in bacon.”
“Fat chance of that,” Paula said, laughing.
“Yeah, since you’re a vegan and all.”
Paula nodded, and, luckily, I never ended up under her dining room table again. And these days I don’t drink like that – no more sleeping under the dining room table for me. I’m really boring these days, a beer before dinner, a glass of wine or 2 after dinner.
And, thank you, Dean Koontz for reminding me of that amusing story, which, in turn, reminded me that Paula’s birthday is in four days, and I must get her a card…so off I go to Walgreen’s.
Over and out from Tenacious Bitch’s bar and grill where cockatiels, sadly, aren’t welcome…they’re lovely birds, but all that racket wouldn’t be conducive to getting a whole lotta writing done…:)
~TenaciousBitch and her band of truth-spouting hippies