Wrong Place, Wrong Time

June 16, 2016 — 40 Comments

American-Hardcore-2006

My coke dealer Harold asked me to “babysit” his girlfriend Lisa when she went out clubbing. I could understand why. She was only 16; a high school girl who had run away from her parents in Scarsdale to live in charming squalor with Harold in his East Village apartment. I called her “Lolisa.”

I didn’t question the ethics of a 30-year-old man living with a 16-year-old girl. In 1991, I didn’t question much of anything. Besides, Harold was successful in his own way; confident, funny, smart. He would have made the perfect Jewish boyfriend were it not for the trickle of powdery white snot that always snaked down from his nostril onto an upper lip he was too numb to feel.

Harold had an international connection which provided him with cocaine much purer than typical street coke. I figured out that I could step on it with my own cut formula and redistribute it to my friends. So, if Harold wanted me to babysit Lolisa while he ran his business, I would comply.

One night, she and I were hanging at the bar at CBGB’s when the band “The Exploited” walked in. They were a Scottish hardcore punk band.

Hardcore punk was punk on steroids; faster, more violent, more dangerous. Hardcore wasn’t my scene but these guys were wildly funny. They chatted us up and invited us to see them play that Sunday.

Hell YEAH. Hardcore fans or not, we knew The Exploited were riding the wave of their most successful album to date. Who doesn’t want to party with the band?

The show was savage and chaotic. Punks were injured by frenetic slam dancing and stage diving. I wasn’t into the music, but I was WAY into their bass player, Smeeks. He was handsome, muscled and mohawked. Wattie, the lead singer, was all over Lisa. With his gargantuan bright crimson mohawk and anti-hero demeanor, he was an even better way for Lisa to say “fuck you” to Scarsdale.

The girls who were part of the hardcore scene were PISSED. Who were WE to be hanging out with their idols? The leader of the pack was Lazar, a wolverine with half her head shorn, the other half bleached and ragged, an upside-down cross tattooed on the side of her face.

That’s commitment to a fucked-up lifestyle right there. Ink like that.

 

We were impervious to their threats. We were with THE BAND.

After the show, we milled around on the street while they loaded up a van with all their equipment. Finally, the band, the roadies, the sound guy and various other members of their entourage piled in. Wattie said, “Come on, ladies! Get in!”

I peeked inside. There were at least 12 guys in there. Getting into a van with a dozen drunken Scots suddenly seemed like a baaaad idea.

“It’s too crowded in there! We’ll catch a cab and meet you uptown.”

They took off, slamming the back doors shut.

 

I felt them before I saw them.

The hardcore girls were a pack of angry she-beasts; snarling, spitting and snapping their jaws at us.

I was supposedly watching out for Lisa, so I stepped in front of her protectively. Lazar pounced on me with a searing punch to the side of my head. I went down. It became an all-out brawl with the gang of them punching and kicking me. With industrial Doc Martens, the kind reinforced in the toe with steel.

I heard, but couldn’t see, Lisa also getting beaten. The girls were chanting “GIVE US YOUR LEATHERS” which was a British punk gang thing. Though American, they adopted all things British punk, even affecting a cockney accent. Stealing leather jackets was a street victory.

They would have to beat me unconscious before I gave up my jacket. They got Lisa’s off, and held it up victoriously, screaming “Oi! Oi!,” a British punk war cry. It was at that point that I managed to escape.

I staggered to my feet, and in one of the most cowardly moves of my life, I fled, leaving Lisa there to fend for herself.

Bloody and disoriented, I tried to flag down a cab but none would stop for me. I looked like trouble, and New York cabbies avoid trouble. I  saw a couple flagging a cab, and when it stopped, I jumped in with them. The man demanded that I get out, but the woman with him was more sympathetic to my plight. We drove back for LIsa, but she and the crowd were gone.

 

I went to my boyfriend’s apartment. I had stabbing pains in my chest and he insisted I go to the Emergency Room. I stubbornly refused to let him call an ambulance. We walked out onto the street and he found a deserted shopping cart and put me in it, wrapping me tenderly in a blanket.

He pushed me 20 blocks to Beth Israel Hospital, where doctors determined that I had a concussion, a dislocated shoulder and several broken ribs.

Harold never spoke to me again. Lisa had gotten beaten up even worse than I had, and returned to her family’s home in Scarsdale. Her parents hired an attorney and tried to press charges against Lazar and her hellions, but no one was willing to testify as a witness to the event. The charges were dropped.

Eventually, I healed.

What didn’t heal was my profound sense of shame for abandoning Lisa. Twenty five years later, I still regret it.

This was a defining moment in the development of my core values. After that, I became a fiercely loyal friend. I will stand up, against all odds, for the people I love. In my opinion, too many people have a weak and diminished sense of friendship, wanting to stay neutral to all and loyal to none. Too concerned about what opportunities they may lose if they “choose sides.” Stay in friendships that have crossed boundaries because personal gains are at stake.

Perhaps that works for them. But they are missing out on the one of life’s great experiences – that of being a true soul friend.

 

Have you ever been in the wrong place at the wrong time? Did you learn any lessons from the experience?
Do you have any true soul friends?
Talk to me. I’m listening.

Hang out with me on Facebook! I say funny things there. 

 

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40 responses to Wrong Place, Wrong Time

  1. 

    Brilliant piece Samara. Should go to “Discoveries” or whatever WP is calling their chosen best now. It fulfills the word “Discovery” on so many planes. I too have made bad choices that have shaped my character but i don’t have the guts that you do to talk about it.

  2. 

    Yup. Lots of bad choices over here: marrying a narcissist was one of them. I thought for long time how much easier and better life would have been if I had never met him, but eventually I realised that I needed a self-improvement course and he was it. I learned a lot about myself and how I interacted with others, and some of it wasn’t pretty. I hate inspirational sayings, but failure is indeed the road to success.

    Good post. Paul is right. Lots of “discovery” going on here. 🙂

    • 

      Hey Lynn!
      Yes, I was raked over the coals from a relationship with a narcissist, but I learned SO much from it. It was a painful way to learn these things, but that’s the way it shook out.

      I’m in the process of writing about it, but it’s for a much bigger publication.

      thanks for reading! xoxoxo

  3. 

    Brutal. Some lessons are hard won.

  4. 

    I can’t pin down when the lesson was learned, but, considering some of the times I’ve gone above and beyond for friends, from driving through blizzards, to spending beyond my last dollar, and taking other risks, it must have been. Or, maybe I just have a weakness for unusual friends and a stubborn streak. Great story.

    • 

      You’re the kind of friend I am. I can be broke, and still give my last dollar to a friend.

      It’s not always a good thing, but it’s how I’m wired. Thanks for reading, and reblogging!

  5. 

    Reblogged this on cabbagesandkings524 and commented:
    Some lessons are learned the hard way.

  6. 

    Forgive yourself for this. Let it go. Thank you for sharing sister..I am often humbled by you. XOXO

  7. 

    ❤ Love this, love you, we live and learn and constantly become better versions of ourselves. xo

  8. 

    Yes, forgive yourself for this. Your survival instincts kicked in and you did what any decent mammal would do (if you can’t fight back, you get out). My bff and I were walking home late from the Cat Club one night, and were being taunted by a car full of Jersey boys. I threw a beer bottle at them and started running, never looking back for her. She eventually caught up, but so did one of the guys in the car. Never been so scared, and that’s NOTHING compared to what you went through.

    • 

      Cat Club!! Oh MY, that brings back memories! That was only a few blocks from where I lived in NY!

      Those Jersey boys. Ugh. Can’t believe I live here now.

  9. 

    Well, I think you probably did the right thing, because if you had stayed and fought back and turned it into a bigger fight, you might have both been worse hurt 😦 Thinking back to what people told me, when I hauled off and hit that guy who harassed my friend and I. Not my finest moment but I’m glad I did it, and I’m gladder it didn’t escalate.

    I’m glad you were okay in the end. I suspect Lisa was, too.

    • 

      I don’t know. I will always wish that I had stayed to protect her. She was a sheltered teenager. I already knew how to take a punch (sadly.) it’s like, a stronger person helping a weaker.

      Okay, time for me to catch up on your writing!

      • 

        We all have decisions we regret, Precious, but as the airlines say “Put your OWN oxygen mask on first”

  10. 

    Holy shit. I gotta say, I think most people would have run. And you did go back looking for her.

    I do have true soul friends. Probably more than I deserve. And I’ve hurt some of my friends. I can be stupid and say the wrong thing some times. It’s the worst feeling when you know you’ve let someone down who you care about. I’m beyond lucky that I was able to salvage those friendships.

    • 

      I’ve also hurt my friends, inadvertently, by saying the wrong things. Lucky for me, the friendships were repairable. They are really, really long-time friends – maybe that’s why we could work through it.

      You always want the best for EVERYONE. If you hurt anyone, I’m sure it was not intentional.
      Love you. 💜

  11. 

    Sometimes you have to put on your own air mask before you can help someone else. You got out of there and went for help – it was the best you could do at the time. If I ever had to have anyone at my back, I’d pick you. 😉

    • 

      You’d be so right! I adore you. If I have to stomp someone for you, just let me know!

      Ohhh. Last week at this time weren’t we having breakfast together? Miss you.

  12. 

    I really love this piece. It’s a great story, well-written and interesting all around. I don’t necessarily agree with your end conclusion (and I’ll explain), but that doesn’t take away from how great the work is.

    I believe in extremely personal situations when an uninvolved person cannot possibly know the entire story of those involved, it’s crucial to remain neutral, because it’s important to be fair to all individuals to the best of our abilities. However, in an obvious situation like the one you described with the beating — yeah, do anything and EVERYTHING to protect the one you’re with, or anyone for that matter. I admire your bravery in admitting that you took off — also, you did go back, and that’s something. I’ve never been in that situation and can’t really know how I would behave. I do know that in face-to-face confrontation between two people, my instinct has been to place myself in the middle to protect someone. However, I have to be a witness to the situation before I jump in. I can’t base my actions solely on someone else’s emotions when I don’t understand the whole story. Does that make sense to you?

    • 

      Neutrality is for a smokey eye.

      If someone I love is deeply hurt by another person, I can’t even FATHOM betraying the friendship by finding out the other person’s “version.” Every story has different versions of what happened. Friendship, by definition, is aligning yourself with those you love.

      I have a huge heart and love fiercely, so that’s how I experience friendship. I think everyone loves and has friendships on whatever level they feel comfortable at. That’s what joins people together. Or drives them apart.

  13. 

    I have this strange feeling that I’m the “friend” that somehow manages to drag my friends to the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe that’s why so many folks have been declining my invitations lately…
    (Also, maybe this is completely the wrong reaction to your post, but now I’m all like, “I’ve never thrown/taken a punch. My life is not well-lived. Where’s my Bucket List? We need to update that fucker! And I’m not talking a KICKBOXING CLASS, okay, future self? You’re going to THROW/TAKE A REAL GODDAMNED PUNCH!” I don’t feel like this is a healthy response to your thoughtful musings.)

    • 

      I wish I didn’t know how to take a punch, but sadly, I grew up getting my ass kicked in the projects.
      It’s not something I would aspire to. 💜

      • 

        Nope. I’m committing to this. I want to throw a punch in a fight to protect a little old lady from having her purse snatched. Yup. That seems like the most realistic scenario.

      • 

        Welllll- if you MUST….
        There’s a right way to throw a punch, and a wrong way. You can damage your hand if you don’t know this. Look it up, okay? 💜

      • 

        I promise I will research this before I stop a purse-snatching… 😉

  14. 

    I hope this post is discovered. Even if it isn’t, it is a tremendous piece of writing. You are so strong. My Wp name is lostmysoul1 so take what you will from that. Idk if I have any friends left. I’m in hyper isolation mode, but I’m courting fire. Love you dear Samara.

  15. 

    As an aside Samaral I just did a guest post over at Mark Bialczak’s and I would be honored if you had the time to drop by. Thank You. https://markbialczak.com/2016/06/19/janices-bicyle/comment-page-1/#comment-80839

  16. 

    You had me at “My coke dealer…”

  17. 

    You were in survival mode. None of know how we’ll react when bad things happen. You also learned from your mistake which is the main thing. (God, I sound like a shrink). Powerful post.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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