worst night of my life? A couple of years ago we were all down in Baja for
spring break and a bunch of guys were slipping roofies into girls’ drinks.
I don’t know where they got them since all the farmacias had hand-lettered
signs warning NO ROOFIES!!! but I suppose some joker must have had a stash
left over from a previous year of merry making. We were in Tequila Rudolph’s
and all these girls were just so fucked up, beyond drunk, and believe me
some of those chicks can drink like longshoremen. They were throwing up
or passing out, stumbling around on rubbery legs—much like winos but with
blonde streaks and little tank tops and phones tucked into their waistbands.
Some friends of mine I now don’t like were dancing on the furniture and
taking off their shirts so naturally all the guys were yelling, “SHOW US
YOUR TITS!” Those girls would have done it anyway, even without the knockout
pills. (Therize, later: “I love spring break!!!”) Sure, we all know the
concept of the date rape drug is to slip a girl a roofie and then take her
back to your hotel, where she conveniently passes out in your room, bypassing
the need for good looks, chit chat, or hygiene. But these guys were too
lame to actually arrange the date part. They were just dumping drugs into
girls’ drinks, hoping they could maneuver them home later. Bad planning
had saved the day, since the girls were too wasted to reliably walk. As
I heard it, almost everybody was still in the bar in the morning, sleeping
under the tables.
Anyway, this Kappa named Sandra was there and I just always hated her guts, because she was so skinny with big breasts and could eat whatever she wanted without gaining, bloating, or sticking her finger down her throat. In fact she had no neurotic body issues as far as I could tell—why did the Kappas even let her pledge? Masochism? I had a couple of classes with her and she was smart too but a real bitch who stole other girls’ boyfriends and slept with professors to get straight A’s for no work, or so my friends said. Our houses were next door to each other so sometimes at the gym she’d come up to me and say hello. She wore a little pair of workout shorts that had the word “perfect” printed in big letters on the ass. Occasionally we’d ride the stationary bikes together. Usually we’d talk about parties or how many turns to turn down the waist of our shorts so our abs showed (her abs), but one time she told me a little story about herself.
Apparently, she’d been a great trick rider when she was a kid. Everyday after school she’d take her Lady Schwinn out and practice in the driveway. Sandra could do a wheelie while twirling the front tire all the way around (she explained as we labored on the LifeCycles with our ponytails swinging back and forth); she could do a handstand on the banana seat while the bike rolled down a hill. None of the neighborhood boys could touch her in skill or daring, and they broke bones trying. I could see the proud little girl in her face as she described how she blew them away, though she also mentioned something about having to ride alone since the boys got mad, and slashed her tires with jack knives, and spread rumors at school about how she was a major slut, until after a while she became an untouchable at the junior high level.
“I had no friends,” Sandra said, and took a slug off her water bottle. “Zero. It was really awful. Finally I left the bike under our station wagon and my mom backed over it, and after that got around, everyone at school liked me again!”
And everyone had liked her ever since!!!
I was not dosed that night at Tequila Rudolph’s because I was reading this cool book in Great Western Authors about a defiant little clerk, so when a guy shoved a glass at me and said, “You should just fucking quaff this apple schnapps,” I simply replied, “I prefer not to.”
From then on, events degenerated. My friends were up on a table removing their bras; guys were dancing around with bras on their heads. Everyone was yelling “woo!” What I really wanted was a tequila shot so I slid up to the bar where the bartender was cringing in the corner. That’s where I found Sandra, swaying with her eyes closed, as though listening to a jazz standard. I said, “Hi Sandra,” and nothing happened. She was far away, in her own world, drooling a little. I should add that I didn’t exactly know about the roofies yet, though I had a sense that something had already gone wrong with the night, like these were the early scenes of a horror movie—the revelry before the kill. But how could I have known? The big thing was to drink a lot anyway. Sandra was drooling and I was smiling because beside her stood this guy Hans, a Gamma upon whom I had the most painful crush—a knife to my ovaries. I could feel it twist when I looked at him. He had one of those big, muscled chests, hairless, bronzed, a beautiful face, a boy as golden as the Mexican sunset. He drove a Beemer.
At that point, Hans was my future. I could totally see myself marrying him. Sure, I wanted a career, but I also wanted kids and I could imagine myself scurrying between kindergarten and pilates class the day before Hans and I hosted a dinner party. Who needs a real job? I would have all sorts of duties. Taking the SUV into the shop. Pleasing Hans in our marital bed. But he didn’t look at girls like me—slightly hog-faced, in size 12 pants; someone who tried too hard and smiled too much. He was more likely to register a gazelle like Sandra. I slipped my hand through her arm.
“Are you feeling okay?” I asked.
Sandra didn’t open her eyes. She mumbled, “Ma zing,” which I took to mean, “amazing.”
Hans leaned across her and said, “Hi Kylie.”
“Hi!” He knew my name?
“So, I think she’s really wasted.” He nodded at Sandra.
“I think she could use a hand. Wanna help me get her out of here?” He smiled.
I took an arm. Hans took the other. A strobe light was freezing the chaos in Tequila Rudolph’s into a stream of sleazy tableaus: half naked girls vomiting! Couples leg-wrestling on tables! It was like the fall of Rome, total decadence and an utter lack of self-reflection. I didn’t want to leave. But there was Hans, smiling at me and trying to keep Sandra from falling over.
We maneuvered her out the door into the old town, the cobbled streets half paved-over, the whitewashed buildings reflecting the moonlight. She stumbled and rolled her tongue and said, “later, later, later,” (or waiter, waiter, waiter?). I had to lean in and prop her against my shoulder. She was heavy—though more floppy than weighty.
“Whoa,” Hans exclaimed, “she’s pretty sauced, isn’t she?”
“Yeah, totally!” This was nice. We were conversing. We were getting to know each other. “So, where’s she staying?”
“Uh, I don’t know.” Hans looked straight ahead. His profile was killing me. I’m sure it was obvious that I had a crush on him. Some Mexican men in a doorway were laughing, probably at me. Hans said, “Let’s just take her to my place.”
We walked for a while in silence. I think that Sandra had basically passed out. I remember her head hanging forward on her neck. My shoulders hurt from carrying her, and Hans’ face had started to sweat. I was trying to convince myself that he had a great reason for this, for squiring a nearly comatose girl off to his room. I couldn’t think what it could be but I was sure he had one. Hans was one of those guys. He got what he wanted because he’d always got what he wanted—not by craft or charm but by the sheer weight of expectation. Twenty-one years of being the golden boy: mommy, daddy, teachers, coaches, hog-faced Chi Omegas.
We arrived at Hans’ place, a chalet-style condo by the beach. Whoever he was sharing it with was not home. The place was tidy. There were a few piles of clothes folded on the back of the couch, beneath a giant, peeling photograph of an orange sunset.
“Let’s put her where she can stretch out.”
We unfolded Sandra onto a bed. Her little shortie top had ridden up, exposing those notorious abs. I sat on one side of the mattress and Hans sat on the other. The bed was covered with a gray and red Mexican blanket, scabbed with lint balls.
Hans coughed, then said, “That was a great party you guys gave for homecoming. The luau theme was really creative.”
“Thanks!” His shirt was half-unbuttoned. “I agree. It was awesome.”
“I’d never had one of those rum and pineapple drinks. What do you call them?”
“Yeah. It was good.”
“I know! I had like eight.”
This was a hook up, absolutely. Me and Hans, alone together, with Sandra. I noticed that his hand was resting on top of hers. I was staring at it; I kept telling myself to stop.
“So, how long have you known Sandra?”
“What?” Hans seemed to be slipping into some void, but he pulled himself out and said, “Yeah, Sandra. Since sophomore year. We’ve been hanging out a lot.”
“That’s great.” I smiled. I kept smiling. Of course I knew this to be a lie. I’d been keeping tabs on Hans.
He was staring at Sandra’s motionless body and breathing through his mouth. We were drunk. Why else would we even be there? I started to stare at Sandra too. Her beauty was fascinating. There wasn’t a pore visible on her nose, and even after dragging her through the Mexican streets her hair tumbled back from her face in a wave, shiny and thick. She looked so milky and clean that I had an urge to dig my nails into her skin.
Then Hans put his hand in my hair and tilted me forward into a kiss. At first I didn’t know what he was doing and I had to plant my hand on his leg to keep from falling into Sandra. We kissed for a while, sloppy and boozed, and when he pulled back for air I saw that he’d pushed Sandra’s shirt up around her armpits. Not a bra in sight. I watched him caress her breasts. Maybe caress is not the word. Manipulate. They were just perfect, bigger than perfect. I wanted more tequila. I wanted this to be happening in a different way. I could handle sex the way I imagined it when I was eight, with Ken on top of Barbie, but I couldn’t quite identify what was going on here.
Sandra was lying very still and her face was impassive. I got worried and checked her pulse to verify that she was alive and clocked her at about forty beats per minute. Hans scooped in and kissed me again, with way too much tongue, but I was still so floored that Hans was kissing me at all that I just went with it. He’d kiss me better when we were married and living in our Tuscan-style mansion. He’d kiss me better once I wore his diamond ring. He took my hand and put it on Sandra’s other breast. We kept making out, our hands roaming over each other and Sandra, who lay there on the blanket like a big, warm doll. There was something so incredibly wrong with this that it was absolutely magnetic, compelling, and though I disliked myself for doing it there was no way I was going to stop. Sluttiness was frowned upon in the house of Chi Omega, in particular any lesbian activity including threesomes or whatever this was, but all bets were off during spring break. God only knew what my sisters had been up to. I heard them whispering about each other in the halls.
Even so, I was surprised when Hans pulled away from me and began to unbutton Sandra’s shorts. “It’s okay,” he said, as though he had obtained prior permission. Sandra was so inert that I’d begun to think of her as not really being there. But as Hans went for her fly she sputtered back to life for a second, rubbing a hand across her nose and saying something: “medicine,” maybe, or “impediment.”
Hans reached for me again, but he didn’t seem to be that into it anymore and after a few minutes he pulled away. He took his hands off of me. He just kept looking at Sandra, fondling her body, tugging at her remaining clothes. I was losing. I was losing to sleeping beauty.
“Maybe we should roll her onto her side,” I suggested.
“Why?” Hans’ tone was hostile.
“This alcohol counselor said you’re supposed to do that if people are really drunk. So they don’t choke if they vomit.”
Hans stared at me. The look said: how the fuck did you get here? He’d dropped all pretense of being interested in me; in fact, he looked like he hated me. Then he put he the pretense back on, just like that, like a coat. He grinned and gave me a peck on the lips and said: “Kylie, I have an idea. I want you to play a game with me.”
“Okay. What game?”
“Truth or dare.”
He was pinching Sandra’s nipples. She wasn’t moving but I could see her pupils sweeping back and forth under her eyelids. Hans coughed. “You go first.”
“Can I not go first?”
“I’ll flip you for it.”
He fished a quarter out of his pocket and tossed it into the air. It landed with a slap on Sandra’s stomach. I hadn’t called it but when it came up tails Hans informed me that I’d lost; by then it seemed clear that I was just going along with whatever he said anyway.
“I’ll take dare.”
“Great,” Hans cocked his head to the side. He was so damn good looking. “Okay. I dare you to go into the kitchen and bake a cake for me.”
“What what? That’s your dare. There’s a box of chocolate cake mix somewhere. We brought it with us.”
Hans eyes smoldered in the middle of his honey-colored cheeks. What was he? A shark? Those eyes were very gray, very dead. Oh. Now I could see what was happening. I was not going to be the wife of Hans. I was not going to be his girlfriend. He was not husband material, nor was he boyfriend material. He was a rapist. And I had been helping him.
Then I helped him some more by leaving the room and closing the door behind me.
Here’s the part that bothers me the most: I really did bake the cake. I went out into Hans’ little orange and beige condo kitchen and turned on the oven; I found the cake mix and a dented aluminum baking pan in a dirty cabinet and with these tools whipped up a chocolate cake for Hans while he stayed in the other room with Sandra’s body. I could hear something happening through the door. I tried not to think about it, or I tried to think that it didn’t matter because I hated Sandra, but that didn’t work very well because I wasn’t thinking of her as the perfect girl with the perfect ass anymore. Some time during the course of the evening she’d turned into the little girl who’d put her bike under a station wagon because the boys were scared so witless by her ability that they went around school saying she’d do anything with anyone.
I decided one thing, at least, while I was baking. I wasn’t going to just leave her there for Hans’ roommates to fuck when they got home.
After a while, Hans emerged from the bedroom. By then the cake was cooling in the pan on top of a wooden trivet. Hans cut a piece and ate it while leaning over the sink. We didn’t speak. There was no point. I could hear the ocean pounding about six houses away. I was draining a mug full of tequila and not feeling terribly lucid. Hans picked up the half-empty bottle.
“Did you open this?”
Our eyes met.
“You’ll have to help me get her out,” I said.
“What?” Hans blinked. I stumbled past him into the bedroom to check Sandra. He had put all of her clothes back on. What a tidy person. He’d go far in life. I poked her a few times. Nothing. At that moment I actually thought it was possible that Hans would attack me—he had turned from my future husband into a villain that quickly—but he was docile, almost bored. He helped me drag Sandra off the bed without comment, and he helped me load her into one of the golf carts that passed as a taxicab in that coastal town. I told the driver to take us back to Tequila Rudolph’s. It was so quiet. I don’t think there’s anything as quiet as riding in a golf cart at night—no sound at all but the soft whine of the electric motor. When we got to the bar the cabby helped me bring Sandra inside. We arranged her on a picnic table beside a dozen passed out girls, a bevy of sleeping beauties, wiped clean of thought or memory, totally blacked-out. I wanted to lie down and be one of them.
Before I left, Hans had said, “Thanks for the cake.”
And I’d replied, “You’re welcome.”
Sometimes now I see Sandra walking around school; she passes by me with absolutely no expression on her face, which is the same way I walk by Hans, who’s become more popular than ever. Boys can do whatever they want. They all just graduate and start working for Endeavor Rental Car anyway. Sandra got her hair cut short and looks even prettier, like a model, with her big eyes and egg-shaped head. All the Kappas with their ponytails agree it takes true beauty and guts to pull off a pixie cut, so Sandra is enjoying a new-found status. I see them clustered around her in the student center, talking on their phones, comparing nail lengths, sisters always in agreement with one another, even if what they agree on sometimes is who to hate.
As for me, I moved out of my sorority house. The reason for this was that I claimed to have developed an allergy to the Chi Omega signature scent (vanilla), but my sisters didn’t buy it—they were like a pack of dogs. They could smell the change in me even before there was any sign I was breaking ranks, even before I switched my major from Business and Marketing to English Lit. They forgot to give me phone messages. They stopped inviting me to house dinners. It’s to the point now where they won’t even say hello when I run into them at parties. Therize looks through me as though I’m made of clear plastic and sniffs the air, saying, “Something smells rancid in here. Do you girls smell something foul?”
There are times when I think I should have dropped Great Western Authors at the beginning of the semester when I had a chance (“Nothing is less cute than a girl with a backpack full of books,” Therize said). When that guy offered me the schnapps, I wouldn’t have had any foreign ideas in my head—I could have said anything. I could have said why the fuck not? I could have said chug-a-lug! I could have passed out under those benches in puddles of beer and vomit with the other Psi Epsilons and Kappa Kappa Sigmas and Chi Omegas, slumbering content in the goodness of products and things: overstuffed couches, home entertainment centers, kitchen islands—why not two kitchen islands? I could have been part of the carpet of sleeping beauties, assured of my own innocence as we ridiculed each other and taxed our livers and vomited up cupcakes and endlessly groomed until we finally married some Sigma Epsilon or God forbid a Gamma and settled down forever, never to think again.
Why the fuck not? Chug-a-lug! But I prefer not to.