Drinking only becomes a problem when you miss your flight the next day. For those of us who ere on the messier side of life, this is a painful lesson to learn. The only thing more excruciating than carrying a hangover 36,000 feet up in the air, is losing $60 worth of French skin products at security because you slept in and arrived at the airport to find the baggage check had just closed. After watching my beloved moisturizer fall carelessly in to the garbage, I vowed never to fly hungover again.
Fast-forward to me at the end of a seventy-hour work week the night before my flight to Tennessee. The time is 1:46am and I just finish work at the restaurant. My flight for Nashville leaves at 2:35pm the same day which gives me more than enough time to return home, pack my suitcase, sleep for a luxurious eight hours, breakfast wrap at Café Artigiano, pick up my Calvin Klein tuxedo, and hop on the sky train to the airport.
At 1:47am, I accept a last-minute invite to grab a pint at the Judge before last call. “No harm done,” I tell myself, permitting me twenty ounces of crisp Moosehead to celebrate the fact I am finally on vacay.
Pubs are an endangered species in Vancouver, and the Winking Judge is one of the few still standing. On the unlikely corner of Burrard and Smithe, the downtown pub features a breath-taking view of the Scotiabank theatre, Scarlett Johansson-hot waitresses, impressionable straight boys, and the best drink specials in a one-bridge radius.
I am half-way done my pint when our server Samantha makes her final rounds to tell us those two words an alcoholic never wants to hear, “last call.” Paired together, these two syllables pierce like a tooth-brushed carved shank in the right side of a jailhouse rat. At there very mention, all thoughts of responsibility and early alarm clocks fly out the window and before you know it, you are left with three empty shot glasses on the table in front of you and a bill six times the size you intended.
I look at my two friends and feel like Renton taking a seat on the carpet at Mother Superior’s in Trainspotting. “We’ll take another round of pints and six shots of your finest well tequila.” When the cab driver drops me off outside my apartment it is three in the morning and I still haven’t packed my suitcase, washed the pile of dishes in the sink, or taken out the garbage. Fearing it is going to be a long night, I crack open a bottle of red wine, turn on Netflix and get right down to work.
At quarter after five I collapse in to my bed and at noon I wake up to the unfortunate realization that I am twenty-eight years old and still going on sixteen. Scrambling, I look down at my suitcase and remember that I didn’t finish packing it. At some point during the night, I got distracted by Miley Cyrus videos on Youtube and forgot to check off this important task on my list. Raiding my closet, I throw in as many clothes as I can, zip up my shaving kit, and bounce out the front door.
Booting it to the Tuxedo shop, my throat is so dry I have stop twice to cough up tumbleweeds. The bell rings as I stumble through the glass door and the kind lady behind the counter asks me if I want to try on the tuxedo before I go. “No time!” I gasp to her smacking my Credit Card down on the counter. Folding the black suit bag in three, I zip back up my suitcase, call another cab and one SuperSlim later I am racing down Granville Street to the airport.
I take a deep breath and look at the steady stream of green outside my passenger side window. I start replying to work emails and realize that my hand is shaking. I am half-way there when a single thought shoots across my troubled brain: I did not check the stove. The trigger snaps and the smoke rises with my blood pressure as a war breaks out inside my head. “I am going to burn my apartment down.” “You are not going to burn your apartment down.” “The stove is on and my apartment is going to burn down.”
At Granville and 61st I kindly ask the cab driver to back track 49 blocks. I kick myself the entire way.
At 2:35pm, I pass the flight attendant my passport. I am the spitting image of the photo inside: dark circles, tired eyes, faded smile. At 2:57pm the plane lifts off the ground and I am en route to Nashville.