…my shoe was broken.
My 10 year old lectured me.
“It’s morning, Mama! Do you realize it’s MORNING??”
I was about to tell him not to lecture ME; I was the mom here.
I opened my mouth. And hurled into the kitchen sink.
This is all the doing of my college BFF. She is a walking cyclone.
A full throttle unrepentant trouble maker.
She’s been my partner in crime over 25 years, ever since we were freshman in college.
We were the lone New York girls adrift in a sea of lame Midwestern chicks.
My BFF is a tough ass Latina chick from the South Bronx, a hard core rock and roller, and an empty nester.
This is a deadly combo.
She had her kids as soon as we graduated college, and after over 20 years of marriage, got divorced.
She lives every day as if it were her last.
In college, our mayhem was legendary.
I’m not just talking about our Intergalactic Voyage parties; in which we distributed pharmaceutical grade LSD to hundreds of students so they could get zonked out of their gourds.
I mean, literally legendary.
She is actually written into the pledge book of a popular fraternity at our alma mater.
She was so butt-toast hammered in the back of a limo en route to a fraternity formal, that she dropped a lit joint in her lap.
Her dress caught fire.
She looked down and deadpanned,
“Holy shit, I’m on fire.”
To this day, when a freshman is pledging that frat, and has to memorize facts in the pledge book,
one of the questions asked is, “Who said, ‘Holy shit, I’m on fire’?”
The answer? My BFF.
We both idolize Patti Smith, and when her birthday concert was announced for last December 30, we bought tickets. Immediately.
Patti was playing at Webster Hall, a club in Manhattan 2 blocks from my old apartment in the East Village.
Lot of memories from that place.
Dating all the way back to when it was The Ritz, a premier rock club in the 1980’s.
She and I and our freshman year boyfriends drove to Manhattan from upstate NY to see shows there.
Over the college years we had other boyfriends.
But we stayed friends with these two, because of our love for music.
And each other.
Freshman year, the 4 of us we saw the Beastie Boys at The Ritz over Christmas break.
Sophomore year, the 4 of us saw The Ramones at the Ritz for my birthday in September.
The Ramones. I could do a whole blog post on Joey Ramone. I will, someday.
Senior year, the 4 of us saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
I still remember the exact set list, because we stole it off the stage.
Since divorcing, she’d rekindled her romance with her college flame, R, who was also divorced and living in Brooklyn.
He was still best friends with M, my old college flame.
The last time I saw either of them, it was 20 years ago at a New Year’s Eve party at the Paramount Hotel in midtown Manhattan.
M was in law school in the city.
I was in a black rubber dress and heroin.
A lot had changed in the 4 years since we graduated.
When we found out that they were going to the same show, and wanted to meet up with us –
I shit a cold purple Twinkie.
It’s unnerving to see an old flame you haven’t seen in 20 years.
Of the four of us, M was the only one still married. Apparently his marriage was on the rocks, and he was about to be separated.
My BFF traveled to my house from Boston, and we spent the late afternoon
making ourselves look like club sluts primping for our night out.
My kid FREAKED when he saw me dressed for the show.
I was in skin tight black clothing from head to toe, lots of cleavage showing, thigh high black stiletto boots, and more makeup than I normally wear in a week.
My poor kid. He blocked the door to try to prevent me from leaving.
“Mama – you can’t go OUT looking like that! Everyone’s going to LOOK at you!”
“Little Dude,” my BFF said, “that’s the whole point.”
We took the bus into the city. No driving tonight.
I planned to get a little buzzed that night, not inebriated.
I’m a total lightweight when it comes to alcohol.
I get stupid on half a glass of wine.
She, on the other hand, planned on getting rat-ass kootered.
My girl can drink.
The club was packed with about 2,000 fans. All hail the Punk Poetess.
It was a bizarre mix of people; ranging in age from 20 to 60.
United only by the demographic of worshipping the Godmother of Punk.
R had texted her that they were at the bar of the club, near the back.
I spotted them as soon as we walked towards the bar.
He was still really cute.
He hadn’t changed a whole lot in 20 years.
It was like a time warp.
Almost instantly, everything was just like it used to be with the 4 of us.
The same exact energy was there.
M wanted to buy me a drink. I didn’t know what to have.
He suggested Vodka and Red Bull.
He told me it was “Refreshing. Like soda.”
He’s a FUCKING LIAR.
What happens is, you get drunk, but you’re so gorked on 5000 mg of caffeine, you don’t realize it.
So you keep drinking them.
Which is what I did.
The lights dimmed and the stage went black.
The band started to play the unmistakable and haunting opening strains to Lou Reeds, “Heroin.”
A few months earlier, Patti Smith had written a gorgeous eulogy to him when he died.
Now, she was opening the night in an homage to him, and one of his greatest songs.
It took the audience a collective 5 seconds to recognize the song she was opening with – and then –
they went HOG WILD OFF THE WALLS FUCKING BONKERS BAT SHIT CRAZY.
2000 people screaming and clapping.
This is the kind of shit New Yorkers are famous for.
When it comes to honoring one of our own, it’s no holds barred.
I had so many emotions running through me that night.
This club. The location. My old neighborhood.
The opening song. Heroin. My demon.
These men. The boys we dated in college.
When we first spoke at the bar, M asked me about my husband.
“I’m not married anymore. I left him.”
“Of course you did. That’s what you DO.”
“Drunk” is an understatement to describe my condition.
The kind of wasted where you lose your underwear (I didn’t.)
The show ended at 11:30.
The night went on forever.
I remember walking through the cold windy streets of downtown from one bar to another. And another.
I have no memory of where, exactly.
At some point my shoe broke.
I think…I fell?
That would explain me getting so dirty.
We ran the streets like we were 19.
My heart was free that night.
My mind traveled back in time, and I had no responsibilities.
No kid. No mortgage. No worries.
Things were said that shouldn’t have been.
Things happened that shouldn’t have.
We kept missing buses back to NJ.
The 2 am. The 3 am.
My BFF and I ended up on a 6am bus back to the suburbs.
We left the glittering city of hope and promise and rode the bus into the gray oppressive suburban morning.
I had no coat.
I had lost it at some point, and spent the night with M’s jacket around my shoulder.
The last thing I remember that night is him walking me on the bus – literally, onto the bus, taking his jacket back, and giving me a very soft kiss goodbye.
Just a peck on the lips.
And me looking up at him.
Then, I passed out.
M texted me the next day, and the day after that.
I never responded to him.
“Of course you did. That’s what you DO.”
I just heard through the grapevine he’s back with his wife.
We got off the bus and had no ride back to my house.
It was a mile walk.
I hobbled drunkenly, my shoe broken.
I fell again.
That would account for why I was dirty.
I walked in my house at 7 am.
My shoe was broken.
My 10 year old lectured me.
My BFF started the worst 5 months of her life January 7th, one week after the concert.
The chemo nearly killed her.
She kept having seizures and almost fatal temperatures after every treatment.
After that, months of radiation burned her body to the point of blistering.
But she’s ALIVE.
We have tickets to go see an epic concert at The Stone Pony in July.
The Stone Pony is an iconic New Jersey venue. Bruce Springsteen started his career there, and is known for dropping in unexpectedly.
It’s in Asbury Park, right on the beach.
Our old college flames are thinking of getting tickets to the same show.
GOD HELP ME.
Do you have that one friend who gets you into all kinds of trouble? Are you still friends with your college roommate?
Have you ever encountered an old flame, after a very long time?
Talk to me. I’m listening.