This woman is dying before she is ever born.
I agree to meet my friend Jim for drinks, conversation and watching a little college basketball championship game. Of course, the University of Connecticut won. They had to because that's the school my best friend and the love of my life went to. It just happens that way.
The game isn't important and it isn't even close. The mind wanders. Jim had been there for a half hour before I arrived and the waitress had lavished attention upon him. When I arrive, she avoids the table like the plague has taken hold of it. I see her running back and forth, stopping to have empty conversations with the regulars, some of which seem to know her intimately. When she does return to our table, it seems like I do not exist. She asks Jim if he needs another beer. I have to clear my throat and tell her "Hey, how about me?" What the hell. Do I smell bad or something?
I grew up amongst the cutters, a name we borrowed from the movie Breaking Away. Cutters in that movie were townies descended from the men who worked the quarries. We grew up in a college town where half the people our age were people from out of town attending one of our colleges. You could always spot them and pretty much know what school they were going to. Holy Cross College. Clark University. Worcester Polytechnic Institute. And so forth. The one thing Worcester had aside from hordes of college students were cutters.
Orlando isn't really a college town. It is more like a demented, broken down circus town. It is a town without a lot of soul. There are the people who are part of the machine, and then there are the cutters. The cutters here live on the soft underbelly of the city. They live hard, they work hard and they play hard. Like the cutters I used to know, they all just seem to be drinking and drugging and fucking while waiting to die. It is the old Jim Morrison line in action. "I want to get my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames."
The waitress comes by again. She is very pretty, except that her face is too small for her head. It is as if someone shrunk her face to half its normal size. Tiny little eyes, nose and mouth framed by a head of tinted blonde hair. She's collected too much weight in the hips and thighs, but she insists on wearing tight little shorts to work. Its all for the tips, baby, and she likes when men fantasize about her... quietly to themselves. She doesn't look bad. She just looks like she's about to burn out and fade away. She is scared to death of what is going to happen to her when she gets older.
Her name is Christina, an almost sacred name in history of my personal journey. She's the kind of girl who hung out with the popular girls in high school, but they would make fun of her. The kind of girl who gets the "dumb slut" label. She likely got knocked up in high school and likely again after graduation. She barely graduated. She was drunk at the ceremony.
Cutters don't have insurance. There is usually no rich daddy and no one to bail them out when things go sour. There is no special skill to fall back on. Cutters stay alive working on cars, doing manual labor, wearing themselves down until they can get to the bar at the end of the rainbow. A few drinks, a couple games of pool, a party where you might get lucky... there is nothing else. Eventually they break down and live angry lives. They get the wrong girl pregnant and have to do the right thing. Or, if they don't, they live with it on their head.
Christina read us her laundry list of alcohol she had consumed in the last three nights. She has no real concern about mixing and matching her booze. "Doesn't matter. I do it all the time." Eight different shots, three different cocktails, and plenty of beer to wash it down with... and that was just her Sunday. She tells me I am drinking too slowly and gives me three minutes to finish my beer. I take the bet, not because I intend to finish the beer in three minutes, but because I'm quite sure she will not be back to the table in three minutes.
Exactly three minutes later she returns and stares at my beer. I look at the time on my cell phone and tell her I still have four seconds and then drain the last of my beer. She brings another and says, "Do it again." These are the kind of women who destroy me. All but sitting on my lap in a pair of shorts smaller than your average bikini bottom daring me to finish a beer in three minutes. I can do it, but I don't really want to. Instead I offer to drink a shot in her honor. I was planning on it anyway, but now I can be cute about it. "Bring us two shots of whatever you would order right now." She offers to join us, but complains that she'll have to go in the bathroom to drink her shot because the place has cameras. "It isn't a problem," she says, "I do it all the time. I just sit in the stall and chug it down. No problem."
You're lost... little girl...
Most of the cutters I knew never cared about tomorrow. Live every day like you're going to be hit by a bus in the morning. Some of them went too far, and most of those were female. It is almost like her little girl dreams of the prince on the white horse have been replaced by a mullet in a '69 GTO. Cutter males know that no one is ever going to save them, so eventually they either die or figure out how to save themselves. Cutter females go over the edge and wait for someone to show up and pull them back. Not openly, but in the back of their mind, they are always hoping that the prince is still out there somewhere and maybe he'll notice how tasty her ass looks in these tight shorts. She's forgotten most of her old dreams, but she still feels their shadows.
It is a cycle. You start not liking who you are and what you've done, so you find ways to block it out or make it go away. Drinking yourself into a stupor works well, and provides a convenient excuse for further errors in judgement that will require more forgetting. You can't get out of the cycle unless you stop cold and start over, but that isn't always easy. Actually, it never is easy. That's why people look for a savior.
Why would anyone care about a binge drinking, used up, empty shell of a woman whose biggest concern is whether or not she can sneak a shot of liquor in the bathroom at work?
Yes, Anastasia, the lessons are getting harder.
You see, I lost my wallet last night. Got to the bar, didn't have it. Checked my car, looked in between the seats, under the seats, the floor mats, even the glove box. Wasn't there, so I assumed I left it at home. Couldn't find it at home, so this morning I checked my car again. No sign of it anywhere. I was about to give up and start retracing my steps since I last used my wallet when I looked down and it was sitting dead center in the middle of the driver's seat. It wasn't there before, but it was. Three complete searches of the car missed the wallet being in the most obvious place possible. That's the answer to the question I just asked.