Dear Diary,

The other night I was hanging out with some buddies when my sister called, telling me to come down to the bars with her so I could meet somebody.  
           
“What’s his name?” I ask. And there was silence on the other end of the phone.
           
I correctly guessed it to be a guy who, a few nights before, she’d met at a bar after she’d been drinking a while. And my sister, one of the smartest people I’ve ever known, decided to take him home. Somewhere during the evening, she forgot his name. So that’s no-name guy.
           
Usually when I get the feeling that my sister isn’t really into a guy, I’m overly sympathetic to his situation and I try to get her to “oh, just give him a chance.” But it generally ends up like a strange medical situation where my sister is a big time doctor or the board of directors and I’m the hospital patient-advocate who’s job it is to represent people who think they’re sick and don’t have insurance. We both work for the same company, and I’m really bad at my job. And this no-name guy is there, his prospects aren’t so hot, it doesn’t help that he’s a little smug, and even I doubt there’s much that can be done to save him. I’m trying to get the doctor to operate on this patient, or at least give him a placebo, and they refuse, but I keep insisting because it’s my job. And then we find out he’s broke on top of not having insurance, and then we check and not so surprisingly he doesn’t even have a pulse. Suddenly, I’m feeling pretty good about my job, because I just saved my sister millions of dollars in malpractice fees.
           
So I get downtown to meet no-name, find out he’s pretty lame (I have high expectations for my sister) and I let her know that, because that’s what family is for: to stop other relatives from bringing people we don’t like to the rest of the family. She agreed with me, so we celebrated with continued drinking.
           
I embellish. I kept drinking, I think she may have had one more drink. And since I had already been drinking, I was to that point where all drinks are a great idea, so another wouldn’t hurt.
           
I really didn’t like the band that was playing either. So my sister’s 0 for 2. Somewhere along the evening I may have described them as being the metal-screamo version of the B52s, except it didn’t lend itself to dancing, and didn’t have female singers. Like, it very well could have been the boppy kind of “it was a rock… rock lobster!” only you’re hearing a guy screaming “kshdeathhhh (rock lobster) ahhhah” and some guy’s jumping on his keyboard and the bassist has 7 fingers on each hand and the walls are gyrating and you really wanna go home.
           
I noticed no-name guy was apparently busy enjoying the band. He was up at the front, and actually singing along with all of the lyrics. Really—all of them, or pretending to, but for entire songs. The whole set. And that’s how we lost no-name guy, or how no name guy lost...

Every once and a while he would come back and say something to my sister that the little brother wasn’t supposed to hear, trying to start a conversation but failing miserably, and I would pretend to be watching the band, only I wasn’t, because they were terrible. Once he was back at the front, turned away from us, my sister and I snuck out to the patio. She bought me another drink for being such a great brother, so she was 1 for 3 on the evening. In baseball, that’s actually a good statistic. And that was our night: I was wasted; I may or may not have driven her home, and then me home... but at the end of it all, I was home.

Safe at last.

I had been in a really cheerful mood all evening, and at 1:50 in the morning I wasn’t about to stop being cheerful, so I made waffles. I like waffles because they’re a good way to start or end your day, and I was doing both. I’m eating my waffles, and I ask myself, “What is a surefire way to keep this wonderful morning afloat?” So, like every other college student ever (ever, including when Thomas Jefferson was in college—The College of William and Mary—it’s real!) I got on my computer, where nothing can hurt anything, good decisions are like oxygen, and people throw money and compliments at you like you were the guy who invented the moon bounce. He comes home from work to a loving and vindictive housewife, “Say honey, I’ve got this real novel idea. You remember the Johnsons, from across the street? Well, their son just got a scholarship to play ball at Princeton. Isn’t that wonderful. Damn, I sure wish I had a moon bounce.” And the wife would just smile and nod, because her husband was insane.
           
And that’s a really important metaphor—the oxygen one—because though oxygen is everywhere, what I exhale is carbon-dioxide, and that’s only good for tree food and Al Gore’s blossoming movie career. So when I get on the computer, with the world at my fingertips, I actually decided to make bad decisions. Because that’s what technology does for people; like talking on your cell phone while driving, or letting cats pilot commercial jets. But when I say ‘bad decisions’ I only mean it in terms that it may have affected me negatively. I don’t make bad decisions that hurt others, mostly because I’m not sure how they would react.
           
So I continue my trend of being a twenty-something American, and I get on the Facebook.

Well, before that I checked my fantasy basketball scores, cause I’m super cool and a great coach and general manager. And maybe I should have just left it at that. But no, by 2:20 I was ready to social-network my way out of this one-horse-town. {side-note: I’ve always wondered about the first time ‘get out of this one-horse-town’ was used in speech. Were the people of the town offended? I wouldn’t have been. “Hey, we don’t need guys like you in this town anyway. Guess that just means more horse for us…”}
           
Let me tell you a secret about social networking: It doesn’t happen at 2:20 in the morning unless you’re doing business in Japan. I was not conducting business with the Japanese. In truth, I was just minding my own business, cruising, seeing if anyone from high school had remembered how cool I was so they could post on my Facebook wall “Charlie! What’s up man? I haven’t seen you since high school! What’s been going on? Hit me up sometime.” Presumably so I can write back “Not much, just going to school and hanging out. You?” Or if I were really clever I would reply with the exact same thing they said, and chances are no one would notice because those conversations don’t actually make sense or exist (only they do, and it’s sad).

So I was minding my own business, and I saw that a girl had commented on a ‘status message’ I’d left (generally I’d feel the need to explain something like ‘status message’ but I know everyone already understands its meaning, so I put in the apostrophes in case a caveman or an old person reads this so they can infer it to be a pop-culture reference).

My status message said “Yorkshire is a place. Yorkshire is a state of mind.” It’s a quote from the ridiculously popular British comedy series, The Mighty Boosh. But you knew that already, didn’t you Diary, because it’s so popular. It is also a common thing to hear said about Yorkshire, England. Anyway, the show’s not really popular at all, at least not in my circle of friends, and I know few people who’ve heard of it, but I posted it anyway because I suppose I thought it was funny. And some girl commented,
“Yorkshire is a breed of dog.”

And I’m all drunk, sitting there reading this, and somehow I see this as an affront to my taste in comedy. Or England.

But I react to it, all alone in my apartment, eating my waffles, as if she had said it to me in person in a really bitchy know-it-all voice. And I respond, in my intoxicated head with a mental voice that sounded about as drunk as I actually was, “Who the hell do you think you are? You can’t tell me what something is. You’re not a dictionary, little Ms. Dictionary. I know what Yorkshire is. You can’t tell me. If you weren’t inside that computer and I wasn’t so drunk I’d come in there and teach you a thing or two about stuff…”

After several heated seconds of this, worried things would escalate, I remembered where I’d met this girl, and I didn’t really know who she was, but maybe she was just harmlessly continuing the list I’d started about the existentialism of Yorkshire... So I settled down, still holding a grudge even though in my head we’d shaken hands and made up ‘Yeah, whatever…’

So I laughed it off and kept perusing. Cool as a bird. And then I remembered this awesome girl that I was supposed to hang out with earlier that day! I’d totally forgotten that she’d forgotten (right…?) to call me back!

Recalling all of this, I took drunk-internet-social-networking to the next step, the most common phase: I began composing a friendly Facebook message to her.

Now, I’d learned my lesson about this freshman year: Do not, under any circumstances— even if you believe your life is in peril and it is your only means of contacting another human who could save you— drunk F-book a friend, classmate, crush, neighbor, teacher, that cute girl you see in the library a few times each week, etc. of the opposite sex ever. You’ll be glad you were taught this, by me, before anything bad happens to you..

I’d learned the hard way, by trial and error, and however harmless the message I always got the same result:

I’d wake up, feeling great, or awful, about the night before, and then I’d vaguely remember the possibility of me having spent an hour composing two paragraphs about feelings or not feelings. So I’d rush to the computer, or if I were already there, I’d hurry to the Facebook from some other website, and I’d check my recent sent messages. Ninety-eight percent of the time there would be a freshly sent message, surely not sent by me, because I had no memory of writing it. And I’d read it. I’d overanalyze it. I’d send another one apologizing for it. “It’s crazy, someone must have gotten on my computer last night! I need to check my locks…” I’d then wait and see if she’d ever respond. Then I might send another one, just incase she hadn’t gotten the last one, because sometimes the internet loses these things. I’d smother the entire situation before it had chance to unfold.
           
And then I’d just feel silly, and I’d go through all the different stages of drunk-messaging-grief, which goes something like denial, then damage control, then bartering, then anger, then anxiety, and always ends in humiliation. I’d want to tell her “I didn’t even really care that much! Seriously, I was drunk! I thought I liked you, but you’re actually a total bitch! It was drunk Charlie, I promise! Please say something! I swear I’m not crying, it’s onions…” There are usually never any onions.

But I swore to myself before I started writing this one it wasn’t going to end up like that. I mean, I don’t really know the girl; I’ve just placed a lot of faith in her to not think I’m crazy. So I continue to type, all dignity intact.

I start off with a disclaimer, which is always a good idea when you’re executing a really bad one. It was something along the lines of, “Hey, I never do this [drunk fbook messaging] but I’m doing it because it seems like a great idea! So don’t hold it against me, just sign here ______ here ______ and here ______, and if you’d just put the date, my lawyer will hold on to this.” And with all the legal aspects taken care of, I finished the message.
           
When I was done, I sat back and thought ‘that wasn’t so painful’, and I was drunk, so it didn’t matter. But I decided to proof read it anyway, just in case, because by the time I’d gotten to the second paragraph, I couldn’t remember what awesome things I’d said in the first, and maybe some new genius would come to me that would really improve my chances of getting this published in the New York Times Op-ed section. My late night editing doesn’t concern grammar or sentence fluency though, because I’m too worried about whether or not the message makes me sound desperate.
           
Which it does, they all do— all Facebook messages do that, and no one actually notices that when they’re writing one. So I finish up, and send it, and go to bed. And then I wake up, and feel great. I make my way to the kitchen, not feeling hung over at all, and I start to make breakfast. I might as well have been whistling to myself, and little cartoon birds could come through the window and hang out with me, which is cause for concern because it’s winter and we keep our windows closed…
           
So I’m having a fantastic morning, and nothing can go wrong. I’m reading the newspaper eating my breakfast, and the little voice in the back of my mind says,“Ohhhh, noooooo.”
           
And the voice is saying it in slow motion, and I totally understand, because awful things are realized in slow motion. But, at least the voice and I are on the same page. So I’ve got that going for me.
           
I check my sent box, and sure enough, there it is. Someone broke into my apartment and got on my computer and sent this girl a Facebook message! I really need to check those locks. I wonder if it was no-name guy, who’s getting back at me for not adequately patient-advocating.
           
But it was me. And that’s what I did the other night.

Thanks for listening,
-Charlie

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© 2009

One Night in Debacle

Charlie Naramore

Photo by Marshall Rake