Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentimes

I went on a professional development trip in a van with our two librarians, both about 59 years old (who think they are my two black mamas) and three other English teachers: teacher A we'll call "Pixie" because she is a thin as a rail white girl with hair down to her butt and very eccentric, and also very smart and nice. Teacher B we'll call "Bridge"--she's an African American girl from New Orleans who is very private--her mom died recently--but who has been like my big sister at school as far as helping me with teaching, so we're close-ish even though we don't really know each other. And teacher C we'll call "Blondie."

So we arrive Thursday evening and sign in and get all of our complimentary crap, which isn't crap at all, that includes a free drink in the lobby. Bridge and the librarians don't drink, so they give Pixie, Blondie, and me their cards and we all have two drinks. I had a gin and tonic followed by a red wine, which was a weird combo. (I've discoved on this trip that I don't like most hard-alcohol and that a thick, smooth red wine is my favorie drink.) Anyway, the other three decided to go to Outback steakhouse, and Pixie and I decided we were going to walk to meet them after we finished our drinks. Blondie decided she was going to split from the group and meet up with her friend who lives in town for drinks. So Pixie and I walk to Outback, pass it up, ask a guy at Macaroni Grill where it's located, find a sushi place on the way, and eat there instead. It was very enjoyable and it was the first time we hung out together. We like the same things, and that was comforting. We went back to the hotel, I sat with her on a couch in the lobby lounge where she had a glass of white wine, and we went back up to our rooms. I was rooming with Bridge. We talked and then fell asleep around 10 or 10:30.

The phone rang in the middle of the night. Bridge picked it up. I hear, "What?...Oh Lord...the hospital?...What happened?...Oh, that doesn't sound right..." She hangs up. The front desk had called Pixie and told her that her roomate was found passed out outside the hotel and had hit her head, and was being whisked away to the hospital in an ambulance. Bridge said she was worried because this could mean that some guy took advantage of her and hurt her--or that it could mean anything. Bridge called the librarians. We were all awake for about two hours. Bridge and the librarians got dressed, called a cab, went to get her. With nothing else to do, I hoped she was okay, and I fell back into sleep.

Bridge got back and said everything was fine and that Blondie's back in her room.
"What was the matter?" I said.
"She was drunk," she said. And we both went back to sleep and woke up very early for our conference the next day.

I got more of the story in the morning, but it still doesn't make sense. Reportedly, Blondie was in the ER hooked up to an IV and the nurses were pissed off because she was fighting them and trying to rip out the IV and leave. Bridge was freaked out to be there in the first place because of all the time she spent there when her mom was dying, but she managed to talk to her and get her to calm down enough to leave the IV in. They had done a cat scan and bloodwork. "She's very intoxicated," said the nurse to the librarians. She also didn't know how she got to the hospital--she had completely blacked out, but she wasn't admitting it, or didn't know it. (We still don't know how she ended up outside the hotel, passed out on the ground.) She wasn't speaking in sentences or making sense. She wouldn't answer any questions. She asked them why they were there and said that they shouldn't have come there and they should have left her there. The hospital staff said they were only going to release her because the librarians had come--otherwise, they'd keep her overnight in the state she was in, and if she would try to leave, they'd have had to put her in jail.

On the way home in the cab, she chatted hazily with the cabbie and leaned over and turned on the radio. When she got back in the room, Pixie said she wouldn't tell her what happened--she just shook her head over and over and said "I'm going to be on the librarians' shit list now, I know it."

We went to the conference without her. In the late afternoon, the librarians, Bridge, and Pixie went to have a talk with her in her room about the fact that she needs help. She's still in deep denial and said that she didn't want them to think badly of her and didn't want them to think she was an alcoholic. She told Pixie she was worried about what I thought of her. I didn't see her once or call her once the whole day--mostly because I have nothing to say, but also because I want to keep going in my own life without that mess. I had papers to grade, classes to go to, and I didn't want her to ruin my little vacation. I also didn't want to end up saying "Oh, it's okay" just because it'd be uncomfortable to talk to her--I didn't, and still don't, want to give her a "pass" on the responsibility of this. I am still surprised about how inconsiderate her behavior was. If I end up saying something to her, if she asks, it will be this:

"Blondie, I don't think you realize this, but you pretty much ruined our weekend. You hugely inconvenienced us by waking us up in the middle of the night, making us worry, making some of us go to get you at the hospital, making us upset and uncomfortable, and offending us with your immature and inconsiderate behavior. I will not say "it's ok"--you have a problem with alcohol and you are in denial about it, and you need to start taking care of yourself, not only because you deserve that for yourself, but because you can be a burden on other people, and that's just not fair to them."

But we ended up having a fun night with an all expenses paid dinner and a live band at a restaurant, and we all danced--well, except Blondie didn't come with us. But we had a great time, went home, woke up in the morning and had Breakfast in the hotel restaurant--Blondie was there, and all I said to her was "You feeling okay?" and left it at that--and then we all drove home. In my interactions with her, I didn't act like anything had happened, but I also didn't really talk to her directly because I didn't have anything to say to her and I didn't want to talk about what happened. I guess I just feel like we're not really close enough for me to be worried about her or try to help her as if it's my responsibility (because I am prone to doing that and acting like the mama, and I don't want to do that this time). I'm trying to be a guy about this--a guy would not try to be friends with someone who was a burden. They'd keep it light.

The only shitty thing is that we kind of have the same group of friends at school. She's going to tell them her version of it and probably make it sound like she was just having a good time and everyone else made a big deal about it because we are all goodies or something, because she was too out of it to know what really happened and she's in denial anyway. I am naturally going to want to tell everyone what REALLY happened, but I don't want to be that guy! I want to stay out of it truly and completely, or else it'll be like asking our friends to take sides on the issue. It's going to be all around school in one second anyway, and it'll probably be some skewed version--ulgh, I don't want to even think about it. I hate the drama of it and people are going to feed on it like fish. People are going to ask me directly what happened. I guess maybe it wouldn't hurt to tell it straight, but I'll have to be really careful not to try to be "right" about the situation or judgy or dramatic, and I know that Blondie doesn't want me going around and telling everyone about this humiliating story about her. The principal knows about it already, because it had to be reported since it happened on school time and school money, so I don't know what's going to happen with that.

I don't know guys...what is the appropriate thing for me to do on Monday when people ask me about it?

4 comments:

Maru said...

i would not tell any story- try your best to be like its not my story or my business.

Giving in to the gossip group will just bring you down to the drunk's level.

Therapeutic Ramblings said...

I wouldn't talk about it, but if questioned by the powers that be, I'd be honest and stick with the facts.

btw..."I'm trying to be a guy about this--a guy would not try to be friends with someone who was a burden. They'd keep it light."...made me laugh. Often us "guys" befriend train wrecks for the entertainment factor....though it can quickly change to "sad", particularly with people who have legit problems.

Skuh said...

Don't worry about it, guh. Focus on your task at hand -- enlightening young minds -- and if someone happens to ask you about, you can answer honestly, "I'm not totally sure WHAT happened."
The truth often times will surface on its own.

Tino said...

Thanks, Skuh. SOLID advice.

I did talk to one other English teacher about it, but she had already heard about it. No one else has asked me, thank god.