The night began with a shit-tonne of alcohol mixed with just enough juice to give the translucent liquid a pale orange tinge. This was of course before I developed an aversion to Minute Maid, which has smelled more like vodka than orange juice to me since my first year of university. It was back when bootlegged drinks were poured into water bottles and chugged behind warehouse-sized clubs in attempt to be discrete. I was 16, weeks new to drinking, and heavily intoxicated, but unfortunately not drunk enough to forget the awkwardness in all its lack of glory.
I was out that night with a group of friends, but I primarily stuck with one: the one who split the contents of that water bottle with me on some industrial downtown street corner near the club. Other than our makeshift pre-drink and my graceless departure at the end of the night, I recall only one instance of the entire evening: my first near-death clubbing experience. Ladies, surely you know that long hair is a nightlife deathtrap. (Oh God, I just remembered that this was during the era in which I teased my hair. I am so grateful that Facebook was not yet prevalent, ensuring any pictures documenting my all-ages days are long lost in some sea of GinoGina.ca profiles that I am also thankful are gone.) If yours hasn’t yet nearly led to your downfall, beware. I was innocently stumbling through a crowd one night when my life was on the verge of taken via my hair. It took my friend’s fingers slipping from my hand and a slight backward jolt of my head to comprehend that my hair had been caught between the shoulders of two guys, consequently enclosing me within the centre of a circle, likely of the gino variety. So many guys surrounded me that I couldn’t see beyond them to anyone of my own gender. (To give you some context, I’m 5’2”.) In retrospect, this doesn’t sound so bad. At the time, I thought I was dying. I – could – not – fucking – breathe! The guys around me must have inhaled all the oxygen in our vicinity before any could reach my lungs, situated one foot below theirs.
In the distance, I could hear my friend calling my name and I thought I felt her trying to pull me out, but I was in the midst of one of those drunken out-of-body experiences: This is it, I remember thinking to myself. I always knew I’d die young. At least if I’m going now, I’m going in a club. (Teenage me was addicted to nightlife. She would have thought it an honour to die clubbing. Twenty-something me would prefer a much less ridiculous demise.)
When my friend finally freed me, I was too happy to be alive to be conscious of anything else. I walked away from the circle of death in relief. It was then that my friend noticed what I somehow had not.
“T!” she shrieked. “What the fuck happened to your shoe?”
Confused, I looked down at my feet to find that one shoe was missing. “Oh my God!” I returned her shriek. “It must have fallen off when you pulled me out,” I logically concluded in spite of vodka.
“You’ve got to go back to get it!” she urged.
With my eyebrows raised as if she had to be fucking kidding me, I exclaimed, “I almost died in there! I’m not going back in for a shoe!”
She laughed a hysterical drunken laugh, which is where my memory fades.
I do, however, recall exiting the club. With my hair a curly disaster, my eyeliner probably running, and my feet one-shoeless, I inattentively trailed the typical post-all-ages-event promoter lane, carelessly accepting flyer after flyer on my way to the car (my dad’s car). I was nearly there – I was mere seconds away when I saw the spikey-haired guy I had crushed on the summer before. Friends, if you ever need to sober up fast, bump into someone you’ve hooked up with without a shoe. I instantly went from drunk off my ass to Breathalyzer ready.
All I could do was muster enough nerve to let out an uncomfortable “hey” in that way a girl does when she’s one shoe down in the presence of a guy whose tongue has repeatedly been in her mouth.
“Hey,” he smirked in that way a guy does when he’s one shoe up.
Awkward lesson learned: No shoes are better than one.