In a way, I chose to drink too much at a formal event four hours before getting on a plane to Los Angeles. Because something horrible always happens when I travel, I figured I could at least make the token bad decision one I had control over. Given that a thirty-thousand-mile-high hangover over the state of New Mexico was not the worst thing that went wrong on my trip, I think it’s time I accepted I have no agency in the derailment of my life.
My friend and I flew into LA Friday 7:30 AM CT and were set to fly out Sunday 7AM PT. (Same friend and trip from Good Customer Service Or In A Simulation?) Friend 1 had suggested we make it to the LAX airport by 5AM Sunday, but late Saturday night, we were still by ourselves downtown.
Friend 1 and I visited Tramp Stamp Granny’s, a piano bar veiled by a red curtain and styled in the roaring ’20s. The experience was like karaoke without the consequences—you could belt along to Rent and hear the pianist’s angelic voice instead of your own screeching.
We’d planned to stay there an hour or so, possibly meeting up with Friend 1’s friend, with whom we were couchsurfing, after her 11PM dance practice. But after Friend 2’s practice went overtime and especially after a bartender commented that Friend 1 and I had been there “forever,” we took the cue to Uber home.
Thankfully, Friend 2’s boyfriend was at the apartment to let us in. As I’d accumulated about a twenty-hour sleep deficit over the past week, I immediately changed, brushed my teeth, and put in earplugs. As I sat onto the couch, Friend 2’s boyfriend approached us.
Friend 2’s BF: I’m making pizza. Would you guys like some?
I gazed longingly at the blankets.
Friend 2’s BF: It’ll take a little bit to prepare since I’m making it from scratch. I usually make a Margherita pizza. Also I have five cheeses, like Asiago, mozzarella…
Friend 1: I’ll just have a slice.
Alas, I was weak, and also the repercussions of staying up even later for pizza sounded like a problem for Future Nicole anyway.
I waited by an outlet, charging my phone and watching YouTube videos on low volume because I never got Airpods and have just been adjusting to a phone without sound for the past several months. I stayed there, struggling in and out of consciousness before I gave up and curled under the blankets. Which of course meant that, a second later, the pizza came out.
The pizza tasted heavenly and Friend 1 and I each ate half.
BF: And here is the sweet balsamic reduction.
Me: This feels like a fever dream.
I remembered to raise my volume and make sure my phone was unmuted. Then I prepared for bed again and immediately passed out.
I woke up to someone very forcefully saying my name, and possibly my deeply ingrained fear of displeasing authority is what made me come to. I thought at first maybe I’d started eating her foot in my sleep (see below configuration, as I was too tall to sleep the other way.)
I opened my eyes to see the blurry outline of Friend 1, looking stricken. My heart sank.
Friend: It’s 6.
Our flight would depart 7:04. I ran to my phone, confused as to why the alarm hadn’t gone off. But it showed on the screen and seemed to have been going off since 4:40. Possibly a combination of the phone being far away, my earplugs being in, and my sleep deprivation, I just hadn’t heard either alarm.
Appreciating my light packing, I zipped my backpack into my duffel bag and called an Uber while Friend finished jamming a pair of shoes into her bag. We were out the door in 3 minutes and at the airport in 21.
Me: I guess that 1AM pizza was a mistake.
Friend: No. It was amazing.
Me: You’re right. I regret nothing.
Incredibly, our early morning luck with traffic seemed to be extending to the security line. I’d looked up average LAX security wait times the other day for morning flights and hadn’t seen anything over 20 minutes, but I didn’t want to jinx anything.
Friend 1 had to lead me out of security. I hadn’t wanted to put my contacts in in the Uber, so I couldn’t even focus my anxiety on missing my flight—I had to also mull on how pitifully short of a time I’d last in the wild.
But, incredibly, we reached our gate with time to spare.
Friend 1: No one’s even boarded yet. We’re probably the last group.
On Friday, we’d discussed the boarding class names. Friend 1’s family had once had an airline designate them the “Basic” group. I’d joked that we were Group “Scum.”
Me: Excellent. I need to go to the bathroom. Brush our teeth?
Friend 1: Yes.
We ambled out of the bathroom maybe ten minutes later, feeling fresher and, to a greater extent, alive. Friend 1 walked around to our gate, her face dropping when she saw no one there. The people she’d seen earlier had been for a different flight. Our flight had already boarded.
Lady at the Spirit desk: Are you two for Austin?
We nodded, frantic. As if on cue, our names rang out over the intercom and we ducked into the boarding tunnel in shame.
Moral of the story is I learned nothing since Consequences of Not Having Your Shit Together. Also, yes, title refers to “Party in the USA,” which played nonstop at the airport.
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