Humiliation – It’s What’s For Dinner

The tale I about to tell occurred many moons ago, arguably in 2003, but also quite possibly in 2004. These things are open to debate. One thing I know – it was July.  In the middle of the hottest month that sits right in the middle of the hottest season.  Hot, hot, hot.

It was a Friday, and I had spent my day trying to divert the course of a river. (It was eating away at my in-law’s lawn.)  I thought I could do this by transferring gravel from the far side of the bank to the near side of the bank. So it was shovel, dump, shovel, dump, all day long. Actually, it would be more accurate to say shovel, sweat, dump, shovel, sweat, dump, shovel, sweat, dump. Over the course of the day I drank two glasses of water. I thought this meant I was staying hydrated. This was back when I was young and stupid. I would exit the day older and wiser.

I hear that my sister and her then-boyfriend are going to be passing through town, so we make plans to eat at Sardi’s. Sardi’s is a local legend and purveyor of the best ribs in the South. I know whereof I speak – they catered my wedding. During the college years Sardi’s was our official hang-out. It was like a second home.  But after this Friday I would not return to Sardi’s for two years.

Sardi's Den

The site of my humiliation.

I shower, get cleaned up, I’m feeling great, looking forward to dinner. We have a lovely time. Our waitress is young and fun and cute and a good server. I would later come to look at her as a kind of personal savior. I am ravenous. We order fried things. Lots of fried things. I eat lots of fried things. Lots and lots of them. I also order two margaritas, but they are very small, on the rocks, and weak. Talk begins to wrap up. And I begin to not feel so well.

I go to the restroom. Nowadays, Sardi’s has redone some of the bathroom. At the time, it was rustic, with a concrete floor. Possibly I inspired the switch to linoleum. I exit the bathroom and wind my way through the overcrowded, jam packed dining area. Such is the nature of Friday nights at Sardi’s. Everybody else is up at the front, paying. We say our good-byes and go outside. All the while, things are starting to go bad. They are, in fact, going real bad, real fast, real hard. My hearing and my vision start to fade. My neo-cortex short circuits, and the reptilian part of my brain comes to the forefront, insisting I go into protectionist mode. You don’t want the lions to know you’re the sick zebra.

Instead of telling anyone that death appeared imminent, I instead tell Evan that I have to go to the bathroom. Nobody notices this is weird, as I just went. He smiles and says he’ll wait in the parking lot. I go back inside, get halfway across the crowded dining area, and pass out. As I fall I grab the straps of a woman’s purse that’s hooked over the back of her chair. I try to keep myself up, but I go all the way down. I immediately come back to, and stagger to my feet. I hear a guy laughing. He thinks I’m hammered. He says, “oh my God!” while laughing, in that “I can’t believe that girl is so trashed!” kind of way.

My response? I slur at the man, “be cool, dude. Be cool.” Clearly, I was not in my right mind.

I manage to get myself into the bathroom and I close myself into a stall. I try throwing up, but nothing comes. I try going the bathroom, and that’s when all of a sudden I was in a wonderful place. It was garden-like, my friends were there. It was peaceful, pleasant, there was much laughter. I remember thinking, “this is so lovely, I’d like to stay here forever.” But there was something nagging at me, something trying to tug me away from this heavenly spot. It was a voice. It sounded alarmed. And slowly, my focus returned, and I realized it was the voice of my waitress.

Who was scaling the wall of the bathroom stall in order to come save me, as I had passed out, hit the concrete floor with my head like I meant it, and given myself a concussion.

The nimble woman managed her way over, unlocked the door and soon I was being tended to by a cadre of truly awesome women. People, tip your servers nicely. You never know when they may be saving what little of your dignity you have left. Yes, dignity, my friends. As attentive readers may have noticed, I was trying to go the bathroom when I Greg Louganis’ed my way into the concrete. Which meant that while my mind was in heaven, my body was sprawled out on a dirty bathroom floor, bare rump side up.

Not only was it as awesome as it sounds, it was even awesomer than that.

As I’m assisted into a sitting position I hear some of the servers suggest I am intoxicated. My waitress, God bless her, insists that I didn’t have much to drink, that there was no way my problems were being caused by alcohol. I vaguely gestured in her direction, slurring, “what she said.”

So, after some time Evan appears, and a bit after that, the EMTs arrive, and, finally, I puke up all that fried stuff in my stomach. And I immediately feel ten times better. Although still concussed.

Eventually it’s time for me to make my exit. I am, how do you say? Ah yes, humiliated, but there is no way out other than to go through the dining area. My sweet waitress assures me that we’ve been in the restroom so long every table has since turned over. I leave the bathroom and find she is right. It is a small comfort as I make my walk of shame to the parking lot.

And so, kids, the lesson here is – stay hydrated! Hydration is important! Without it, you can pass out half naked in public and that’s not fun! So don’t learn that lesson the hard way, take it from me – drink eight glasses a day, no matter what!

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