I've been waiting on this show for about three months. I've seen the band before, but they're one of my Top Five, which is meaningful mainly because I like almost everything I hear. I'd see them again and again and again. I was about to leave during the opening band nonetheless, appalled that I'd paid thirty bucks to see a show that may as well have been a stage at a festival, with porta-potties and uneven ground and mosquitoes and the works. But they started playing and I got over it.
I react badly to crowds, like a petulant child. I've left really good shows because of really bad audiences and I will probably do it many more times before I die. Someone diagnosed me as a claustrophobic while I was playing paintball, which is about the worst possible time to figure that out. Since then it makes more sense and I try to prepare myself better for it, but I don't enjoy people touching me and shit.
The Cuddlers bother me less, though, than the people who talk at shows. Much as I despised Seattle crowds, with large circles of yuppies dancing really badly and spilling their Fat Tire all over my legs, at least they pretended to know the music. These Austin crowds are different, young frat boys in packs of four who make no pretense of having heard anything but the single and only once it's played stop talking to unleash a volley of gorilla-worthy grunts barely in time with the beat.
Even so, this girl bumped into me and my first thought was elbow in the ribcage. I thought she was trying to make some kind of point as she rammed her head into my hip, like she wanted to push me out of the way, like a bulldozer would a pile of dirt. But she was twirling, spinning. Her head stayed still while her knees drew a half-circle in the air, folding under her. We, the idiot crowd, managed to guide her fall so she sat.
I don't remember how I got down between the legs and guilty cigarettes, but her eyes were closed. I had her right side, I had her shoulder and her calf, I looked carefully at her face. "Honey. Hey. Are you ok?" I turned to no one, to all the kneecaps, because she was not awake. Not drunk, no tongue lolling out or greasy alcohol sweat. Asleep. Out.
The night I met my husband makes a good story, but that doesn't make it a good night. I got to the club early to meet people I didn't know, friends of barely-an-acquaintance. Because they had a minimum for credit cards I got two drinks at once. I carried the scotch around while I left the champagne on a table, trying to spot a not so familiar face. Five minutes or so after I found them my vision began to tunnel. I left the conversation I was having with my husband-to-be and sat heavily. I lasted a second or so and then found myself waking up horizontal, having fallen over when I passed out. I don't remember much until we're already out on the street, halfway to my house. I don't remember assuring the group who propped me up for three blocks that I was fine, fine, gonna sleep it off. But I did. I remember I expected to throw up but instead passed out again, but safe, in bed, alone.
I've got this theory that some people get dosed and don't fight it, the fade is more gradual, nothing dramatic happens, they just find themselves more and more confused. And some people feel that initial dizziness and freak the fuck out, they try to snap themselves back to reality. And it doesn't work so lights out. No idea if this is accurate.
I slapped her leg softly, repeatedly, quickly. "Wake up. Hon. Wake up." Then she opened her eyes, just like that. No sleepy blink. Like a TV show that had gone to commercial.
"I don't know what happened," she whispered. "I fell down. I must have... passed out?"
"You passed out. Are you ok? Do you want to get up?" And then too soon there are arms everywhere but I am still right there in her face and honey I fucking see it too late, don't get up, play possum, wait, think. I'm thinking I have good survival instincts, I'm gonna osmosis them into you, you're confused, just sit the fuck still. But the encore's starting. As we all raise her up like some modern dance impression of an elevator, I see the anxious dude who's been here all along. She's ready to walk and she just goes, through the crowd and the loud frat boys. He's already behind her, propping her up and pushing her toward the exit, saying "let's get you home..." And the thing on his shoulder is not a security guard's radio, it's just a messenger bag.
My husband's role in this drama so far has been to make a seat of his legs and feet, but I look at him and only have to say, "Is that a security guard or is that the motherfucker who dosed her?" and he disappears, following them.
The security guards took care of her, the chivalrous date rapist took off, and it seems she ended up ok. But it occurs to me that this is one of those things you can't tell people. When you're 21, how tipsy do you have to be before you forget what you've been told about accepting drinks whose paths you haven't obsessively tracked since they left the bar? If you fall down in a bar, do me a favor, don't move. Sit as though you were anchored. Wait. If it doesn't start to make sense, continue not to move until you see a bouncer or bartender you can identify for sure. This shit happens so fast. It makes me sick to think how easy it must be for them.